WP: Koji Uehara - 0.2IP, 1H
LP: Aaron Sanchez - 1.0IP, 2H, 1ER, K
S: Craig Breslow (1) - 1.0IP, 0H, 1BB
The Toronto Blue Jays made things interesting late Monday night, but failed to come out on top against the Boston Red Sox in a 4-3 loss. Despite facing the losers of eight straight and a pitcher with an ERA approaching six, the Blue Jays appeared not to be in the same league as the Red Sox for the first eight innings.
Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ looked fully on point through the early innings, spotting his fastball consistently and racking up the K’s with a high heater touching 95mph. Happ’s bump in the road came in the fifth inning where he surrendered a solo shot to Mookie Betts and a two-run blast to Dustin Pedroia over the left field wall. Happ righted the ship, however, and again left the Blue Jays with every opportunity to win as he allowed just 5H and 3ER over six innings while striking out eight. Todd Redmond followed Happ out of the bullpen and pitched three innings of shutdown ball, a welcome relief to Blue Jays fans following a string of shaky appearances from the long man recently.
Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz finally seemed to return to his old self on Monday, appearing nearly untouchable until the 9th inning. With pitch counts of 8 in the 1st, 6 in the seventh, and 8 in the eighth, Buchholz was forcing frequent ground ball contact from Jays hitters. In addition, Buchholz received elite defence behind him with highlight reel plays from Brock Holt and Will Middlebrooks, as the Blue Jays could not seem to find a hole.
The Blue Jays offence was asleep at the wheel and snoring loudly until the 9th inning, managing just two hits off of Buchholz until that point. Following seeing-eye singles from Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera, Jose Bautista walked to load the bases with one out for Adam Lind. Lind grounded to the right side, but was able to avoid the double-play while bringing the Blue Jays first run across. After a day as the hottest topic in Toronto, Jose Bautista’s hard-nosed slide into 2nd base was a big reason that the inning stayed alive.
Edwin Encarnacion delivered the comeback blow next, with a loud two-out double off the left field wall which drove in Melky Cabrera and pinch-runner Steve Tolleson.
With the Rogers Centre abuzz, Aaron Sanchez entered to start the 10th inning where Brock Holt would reach base on a single. Holt, one of the league’s most intriguing super-utilities, would steal 2nd and 3rd base before scoring on a single from Yoenis Cespedes. That was all the Red Sox would need as the Blue Jays bats could not provide the heroics again in the bottom of the inning.
This is the type of loss that pushes a fan base further in the wrong direction, especially given the current state of the Blue Jays. Clearly, this 4-3 loss following the Blue Jays comeback is much better than being shut out 3-0 with just two hits. The Blue Jays showed resilience late and received clutch situational hitting. However, Blue Jays fans were lifted up at last just to be dropped from a higher point in the 10th, and the social media reaction was ugly.
Blue Jays Ace R.A. Dickey will take the hill tonight in hopes of sparking all that can save the Blue Jays season: a lengthy winning streak. Toronto now sits 9.0 games back in the AL East and 5.5 games back of the AL Wild Card, so they’ll also be hoping from some help. A lot of help. Perhaps the Military and the Navy.
MVJ: Edwin Encarnacion. With a 1-3 day including a walk and the key comeback double, Encarnacion provided something that has been missing for the Blue Jays in August: timely hitting. At bats like his in the 9th are the difference between playoff teams and the rest of the league. Encarnacion could be heating up after his return from injury, as the Blue Jays will turn to him to end their recent home run drought.
Tomorrow’s Probably Starters (7:07ET, Rogers Centre):
TOR: R.A. Dickey (10-12, 4.08 ERA)
BOS: Rubby De La Rosa (4-5, 3.69 ERA)