Remember that great road trip the Red Sox just had in Tampa Bay, Baltimore and Cincinnati? The one where they won 8 out of 9 and 6 in a row? Well, they have looked like a different team since returning to Fenway Park on Monday. Drew Pomeranz looked bad in the first game and the ace was not much better last night. Chris Sale got the start in this one, and I really hope this was his last start of the regular season. The strikeouts were there, but so were the home runs. Yup, the Blue Jays took Sale deep FOUR times. The lefty simply did not have it going on as he usually does against Toronto. He pitched five full innings, allowing eight hits, five runs, two walks, and eight strikeouts. Josh Donaldson greeted him with a solo shot in the first, then hit another one in the third. Dude is just unreal back in his MVP form. He’s going to be 32 by Opening Day next season, but there are not too many third baseman that can do what Donaldson can. He wasn’t the only player to go deep twice though, as outfielder Teoscar Hernandez, former Astros prospect, hit his sixth and seventh home runs of the season as well. Sandwiched in between those two was Kendrys Morales’ two-run blast in the fifth. Like I said, four of those belong to Sale, but the bullpen gave up runs for the second night in a row. Matt Barnes pitched a scoreless sixth while Joe Kelly and Heath Hembree surrendered four runs in a combined two innings of work. Hector Velazquez made his first appearance in three weeks and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, but the game was already out of reach. With all the talk about how great this bullpen is, we’ve seen Addison Reed and Joe Kelly, arguably the two most important guys not named Craig Kimbrel, give up runs in consecutive nights.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox offense did not fare well against Blue Jays veteran JA Happ. One run and four hits is all they could get off of the lefty and they also whiffed nine times. Chris Young tied the game in the first with an RBI double, but that’s all the bats could do until the eighth inning. Having just gone down by eight runs, it looked like this one was out of reach. Sandy Leon led the inning off with his seventh home run of the year, and that was followed by a Rajai Davis RBI double. Next man up, Hanley Ramirez, shrunk the deficit to five runs with his two-out RBI single, but the lineup could do no more.
Having lost the first two games of the series, this will mark the first time since September 3rd that the Red Sox have failed to win a series. With each team having five games remaining, the Yankees trail the Red Sox in the division by three games. In order to give the division away, the Red Sox would have to lose four of their next five games while the Yankees win all five. If both teams finish with the same record, a play-in game will be hosted by the Yankees to determine who faces the Astros in the ALDS and who faces Minnesota in the Wild Card game. If the Red Sox do blow this three game lead, and Chris Sale had to pitch in the Wild Card game, that is a very bad scenario. Yeah, the one game thing is exciting, but it would be very hard to watch if my team was in it. One mistake and the season is over. I know the ALDS has a tendency to go quick, but at least you have multiple chances.
Anyway…Rick Porcello gets the ball tonight against Marco Estrada, hopefully the Red Sox can salvage something from this series with a win tonight.
91 down, 3 to go.