A nine game road trip filled with plenty of ups and downs has finally come to an end. The Red Sox defeated the Blue Jays 5-4 in their series finale last night, and they finish the trip with a solid 6-3 record.
Chris Sale got the start in this one, and he was matched up against Blue Jays veteran right-hander Marco Estrada. As was the case in his last start in Oakland, I don’t think Sale was at the top of his game last night. The lefty tossed six innings, surrendering three runs on four hits, including two home runs, and two walks while recording a season-low four strikeouts on the night. All three runs the Jays scored off of Sale came across in the first three innings. After that, he settled down a bit and held Toronto to just one walk over the final three innings of his outing. We also got to see a pretty cool moment when it looked like Sale was going to be taken out of the game with two outs in the sixth, but he convinced Alex Cora to keep him in the game. He retired the very next batter, Randal Grichuk, on one pitch following the exchange. Finishing the night with 104 pitches, 71 of which went for strikes, Sale will look to pick up another win next time out against the Kansas City Royals back in Boston.
In relief of Sale, the Red Sox bullpen had a bit of a challenge ahead of them. Earlier in the day, it was revealed that Joe Kelly’s six-game suspension for that incident with Tyler Austin would be upheld, so the team would be without the flamethrower for a little less than a week.
Anyway, Carson Smith would get the call for the start of the seventh inning, and he looked pretty shaky. In just two-thirds of an inning, the Jays managed to reach base twice off of Smith while scoring once. That made it a one run game, and that would be all for the right-hander out of Texas.
With two outs in the inning and the tying run on second base, Matt Barnes came through with a huge strikeout to retire the side and preserve the lead. He pitched a scoreless eighth inning as well, despite walking two, to pick up his fifth hold of the season and make way for Craig Kimbrel in the ninth.
For the second night in a row, Kimbrel was perfect. He needed just 16 pitches to end things in the inning and pick up his seventh save of the season, second best in the American League among closers.
On the other side of things, Andrew Benintendi got the scoring started for the Red Sox in the fourth inning. After Brock Holt doubled with one out to extend his hitting streak to nine games, an issue with his left hamstring led to him exiting the game. Tzu-Wei Lin replaced him and took over as the runner on second.
Two batters later, Benintendi drove Lin in from second on a double of his own, picking up his 14th RBI of the season.
It seemed as if the Red Sox could have gotten more off of Marco Estrada in the third, but Benintendi was picked off sliding back into second base, and that ended the inning.
In the fifth, Rafael Devers tacked on another run on a sacrifice fly that scored Mitch Moreland from third and cut the Blue Jays lead to one run.
Fast forward another inning, and JD Martinez put the exclamation point on this one by taking Estrada deep to left field for a three-run blast.
That ball was hit 365 feet at 102 MPH off the bat, and it put the Red Sox up by two runs, ultimately sealing the win in the end. Those three RBIs now put Martinez at 18 for the season, which is best for seventh in the American League.
With the road trip over and done with, the Red Sox will now be at home for their next six ballgames, those coming against the Tampa Bay Rays and Kansas City Royals. Xander Bogaerts should be back this weekend after spending a few weeks on the disabled list, which could not come at a better time if Holt’s injury is serious.
Drew Pomeranz will get the series with the Rays kicked off later tonight, as he makes his first Fenway start of the season. First pitch is at 7:10 PM, hopefully the rain will lighten up before then.