One major bump in the road Wednesday threw the Boston Red Sox off their winning path.
The Red Sox, who were eyeing a three-game sweep at Rogers Centre, suffered a 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays after Toronto scored four runs in the seventh inning. Boston now has lost nine of its last 11 overall.
The Red Sox are off Thursday. They’ll then close out August and open September against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Let’s go over Wednesday’s defeat up north.
– Joe Kelly is winless through his first five starts with the Red Sox. It’s a deceiving reality, as the recently acquired right-hander actually has pitched well for the most part.
Kelly was charged with two earned runs on three hits over six-plus innings on Wednesday. He struck out four, walked two and departed after surrendering a leadoff double to Edwin Encarnacion in the seventh.
Kelly only threw 86 pitches (53 strikes). He exited his previous start Friday against the Seattle Mariners for precautionary reasons after feeling a tweak in his shoulder, though. The Red Sox thus wanted to minimize his workload against Toronto.
“Not concern as far as a health standpoint. From a volume standpoint, we didn’t want to get past 85-90 pitches,” Red Sox manager John Farrell explained. “Where he finished the sixth with Encarnacion coming, we felt like that was how we were going to match up through the seventh inning. But he felt fine in his side session, but more precautionary, we weren’t going to overextend him tonight.”
If you toss out Kelly’s seven-run implosion against the Houston Astros on Aug. 17, the 26-year-old has posted a 1.88 ERA (five earned runs in 24 innings) over his four other starts with Boston. His fastball touched 98 mph Wednesday.
– The Red Sox scored two runs in the sixth inning to grab a 2-1 lead.
An error by Blue Jays third baseman Juan Francisco and three straight singles from Brock Holt, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz created the first run. Marcus Stroman unleashed a wild pitch that plated the second run.
Stroman, to his credit, minimized the damage by retiring Mike Napoli on a comebacker and striking out Daniel Nava.
– Tommy Layne suffered the loss, though it was Junichi Tazawa who imploded most in the seventh.
Layne gave up a single to Dioner Navarro following Encarnacion’s leadoff double against Kelly. Layne appeared to have Navarro retired, but catcher David Ross dropped a pop-up in foul territory to extend the at-bat.
Danny Valencia, pinch-hitting for Francisco, crushed a three-run homer off Tazawa to give the Blue Jays a 4-2 lead. Kevin Pillar doubled and scored two batters later on a ground ball to make it 5-2.
Simply put, Tazawa has been knocked around by the Blue Jays in his career.
– Edwin Escobar, who was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket before the game, made his major league debut. He worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning, recording a groundout, a popout and a flyout.
Escobar was acquired from the San Francisco Giants in the Jake Peavy trade.
– Holt, Pedroia and Ortiz accounted for all five of Boston’s hits. The bottom six of the Red Sox’s order went a combined 0-for-20 with nine strikeouts.