Playing at Fenway Park is just what the Boston Red Sox needed to break out of their early season slump, right?
Well, that still could prove to be the case, but for now, the answer is a resounding “no.”
The Red Sox lost 7-5 to the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday, an ugly end to a day that began with the World Series champions receiving their championship rings and raising a banner in center field. Chris Sale got the start for Boston and was handed an early 2-0 lead, but the left-hander allowed five runs over his final two innings en route to his third loss of the season.
Mookie Betts and Mitch Moreland both homered for Boston in the losing effort.
The Red Sox fell to 3-9 with the loss, while the Jays climbed to 4-8 with the win.
Here’s how it went down:
GAME IN A WORD
Yeah, this one was tough to watch. And when you did watch, it often hurt.
This about sums it up:
ON THE BUMP
— The Red Sox maintain there’s nothing wrong with Sale. They might believe that, and they might be right. But after his outing against Toronto, it’s getting harder to be anything other than concerned about Boston’s ace.
Sale breezed through the first two innings without allowing a baserunner. But the wheels began wobbling in the third inning, when he allowed two runs, before completely falling off in the fourth.
Randal Grichuk got the rally started with a single to left and moved up to second when catcher Danny Jansen singled to right. A passed ball by Christian Vazquez allowed Grichuk to move to third before he was driven in by a Lourdes Gurriel Jr. single to right.
A sacrifice bunt and a strikeout left the Jays with runners on second and third with two outs — a situation that seemed perfectly manageable. But another passed ball allowed Jansen to score, and Gurriel scored soon after when he — wait for it — stole home. Sale allowed another single to center before escaping any further damage. In total, the lefty allowed five runs on seven hits over four innings. He struck out three and didn’t walk a batter.
As for Sale’s much-discussed velocity, his fastball occasionally reached 94-95 mph, but there were just as many that sat in the high-80s. He did induce a swing-and-miss on a fastball for the first time this season, though, for whatever that’s worth.
Again, Sale might be just fine, and his blatantly restrained performance might be part of a larger plan. But if you were looking for an encouraging outing from the Red Sox ace, this wasn’t it.
— Tyler Thornburg took over for Sale in the fifth and pitched well, allowing just one hit while striking out two over two innings.
— Heath Hembree got the ball in the seventh and allowed a hit and walk before being pulled with two outs.
— Brandon Workman allowed an inherited runner to score before getting the final out of the seventh inning.
— Marcus Walden pitched a perfect eighth inning while striking out two.
— Alex Cora gave the ball to Matt Barnes in the ninth, and the right-hander responded with his first rough outing of the season. Barnes hit a batter, threw a wild pitch and allowed a run-scoring double before being pulled with two outs. He did strike out two batters.
— Colten Brewer got the final out of the ninth.
IN THE BATTER’S BOX
— The Red Sox bats were OK, but also were frustratingly lifeless at times.
— Moreland took Jays starter Matt Shoemaker deep in the first inning with a two-out solo home run. It was Moreland’s third homer of the season.
— The Red Sox pushed home another run in the second when Dustin Pedroia, making his first start since last May, drove home Xander Bogaerts after grounding into a double play. Pedroia went 1-for-4 in his return, with his lone hit being a leadoff double in the ninth.
— Betts made it a 5-3 game when he led off the bottom of the sixth with a solo homer over the Green Monster. It was the second round-tripper of the season for the reigning American League Most Valuable Player.
— Boston pulled within a run later in the inning when Jays left fielder Teoscar Hernandez dropped a fly ball off the bat of Rafael Devers, allowing Bogaerts to score.
— Back-to-back two-out doubles from J.D. Martinez and Bogaerts made it a 6-5 game in the bottom of the eighth.
— Pedroia doubled and Jackie Bradley Jr. walked against Jays closer Ken Giles to begin the ninth. But Giles then retired Blake Swihart (first-pitch fly ball to center), Andrew Benintendi (pop up to center) and Mookie Betts (strike out on full count) in order to secure the victory.
— The Red Sox finished with eight hits on the afternoon.
— Devers (2-for-4) was the only member of the lineup with multiple hits. Benintendi (0-for-5) and Bradley (0-for-3) both went hitless.
TWEET(S) OF THE DAY
The New England Patriots were honored in a ceremony before the game.
If there ever was a time to break the rules and run with more than one “tweet of the game,” this is it:
The Red Sox will have Wednesday off before squaring off with the Blue Jays on Thursday in Game 2 of this rather strange two-game set. First pitch at Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.