Blue Jays vs Red Sox – Jays lose battle of offensive titans
By Craig Borden
Now that the Six is all pumped and ready to go, the Jays packed the house on Friday night. The construction on the new infield is done and looks beautiful in the ballpark. The ceremonies before the game got everyone emotionally invested with George Bell giving the Blue Jays (and American League) MVP Josh Donaldson his trophy.
Marcus Stroman took to the mound and promptly punched out the Red Sox first batter Mookie Betts. Stoman looked downright nasty right from the start. He only needed 4 pitches to punch out Betts and then followed that with a 3 pitch strikeout to Dustin Pedroia. Both punch outs were swinging and they didn’t look even close. Stroman looked ignited by the crowd and cut down the first 3 Sox hitters.
In the bottom of the first Kevin Pillar crushed a hard line drive into the gap in right center to lead off the Jays attack with a triple. It was only more fun to watch Pillar show off his wheels on the new dirt. After a Jose Bautista walk Edwin Encarnacion hit a hard line drive to the center fielder which was just enough to score Pillar on the sacrifice.
In the second, Stroman allowed Hanley Ramirez to hit a hard single into centre. Ramirez got greedy and was thrown out at second base by Kevin Pillar. This was key because Travis Shaw followed with a double and Brock Holt added a double after. This would make the score 1-1 and Stroman was still stuck with a runner on second. Stroman would escape the trouble but the game was now tied.
On to the top of the 3rd Stroman got into some more trouble which would lead to an RBI double to center field. The double scored Xander Bogaerts. Stroman had been playing with fire ever since he powered through the first inning. Meanwhile the Blue Jays bats went silent at the plate after the first inning. Joe Kelly settled in after having a 26 pitch first inning and held the Jays quite at the plate for 2 innings.
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Kelly finally ran into trouble with the bottom of the order in the bottom of the 4th. Michael Saunders struck a hard line drive into right for a single to lead off the inning. Russell Martin popped a ball of the body of Joe Kelly which dribbled between the fielders to get to first. Ryan Goins followed with a single to load the bases for the #9 hitter Darwin Barney. Barney singled on a drilled ball to right field which scored Saunders. Kelly then ran a ball high and tight to Kevin Pillar that hit the bill of the helmet of Pillar. Pillar picked up the RBI the hard way on as he got plunked but it put the Jays ahead 3-2.
Now the stage was set for the Bringer of Rain with the bases loaded. Hurt calf and all Donaldson cracked a low breaking ball in the middle of the plate over the left-field wall. Donaldson was able to rise to the occasion that is the home opener to electrify the crowd and the scoreboard with the grand slam. This chased Kelly from the game now that the score was 7-2.
Stroman came out revitalized in the 5th with the lead now firmly intact. He shut down the Red Sox quickly to get the Jays back in the batters box. Stroman was really ‘on’ in spurts when he was really mixing his pitches in. In the 1st and 5th innings he was nearly unhittable because of a great mix of pitches. Stroman’s night would end after 5.1 innings.
21In the top of the 6th Stroman allowed a double to Bogaerts then walked two to load the bases for Brock Holt. Jesse Chavez came in and gave up a grand slam to Holt to make the score 7-6 Jays. The slug fest was officially on.
In the top of the 7th the Sox continued to grind and got 2 singles off of Drew Storen. Storen was lifted for Brett Cecil to face David Ortiz. Ortiz singled on a 3-2 count to score Pedroia. Hanley Ramirez kept things moving for the Sox as he also single to score Bogaerts to take the lead. Cecil was finally able to work the Jays out of the inning after recording the final 2 outs.
The Jays we not able to get anything going in the remaining innings.
- Blue Jays continue to wear out pitchers in the first inning. Joe Kelly needed 26 pitches to get out of the 1st.
- Josh Donaldson’s grand slam was the 2nd grand slam of his career. It was also the first grand slam by a Blue Jay in the home opener ever.
- Blue Jays batted through the lineup in the bottom of the 4th inning. Michael Saunders reached base twice in the inning.
- Something you will probably never see again Russell Martin playing third base and makes it look easy on his first opportunity. First game in three years at 3rd base
- Joe Biagini makes his Major League debut and retires Bogaerts, Ortiz, and Ramirez in his one inning of work. Jumped from Double-A last year to the Majors this season
- Boston bullpen held the Jays to 0 runs to take the lead as the Jays bullpen allowed 3 runs.
MVJ – Josh Donaldson – 1-5 with a grand slam