For the first time this season, the Red Sox welcomed the 25-28 Toronto Blue Jays into town for a three-game series on Monday. Having already faced them six times and coming away with four wins, the Red Sox looked to continue their success against the Blue Jays with David Price on the hill today.
Making his 11th start of the season, Price’s day certainly could have been much shorter than it turned out to be. After getting the first two outs of the inning, Jays shortstop Yangervis Solarte lined a comebacker right back to Price with an exit velocity of over 101 MPH. The ball appeared to get Price right in the chest/his left arm, but he was able to pick the ball up and throw to first to record the out.
In the second, there was another concerning moment for the Red Sox when it looked like Price was looking at his pitching hand after walking Kevn Pillar to leadoff the inning. After a brief visit from Alex Cora and a trainer, Price remained in the game, worked around another walk to Russell Martin, and escaped the second without giving up a run.
From that point on, the lefty settled down for a bit. Despite consistently dealing with baserunners in the next three innings he pitched, the Blue Jays could only manage to plate one run in the fourth and another in the fifth. Other than that, I would say it was a solid day for David Price, especially when considering how it started.
The four walks may seem like a bit of an issue, but home plate umpire Jordan Baker’s was far from consistent, so I would not be too concerned about that. Now on a run of four straight starts of giving up two or fewer runs, Price will look to carry this momentum in his next start against the Houston Astros on Saturday. Since May 3rd, when he surrendered seven earned runs against the Texas Rangers, the native of Tennessee has lowered his ERA from 5.78 all the way down to 4.04 in those four starts.
With his pitch count at 95 through five innings, Alex Cora would need to turn to his bullpen early for the second game in a row. Heath Hembree got the first call, and he got some defensive help right away in the sixth from Jackie Bradley Jr.
That Kendrys Morales flyout had a hit probability of 91%, according to Statcast. Instead, JBJ made an insane over the shoulder catch in the deepest part of Fenway Park to prove that, once again, he is the best defensive center fielder in baseball.
Hembree would go on to retire the side in order in the sixth and come back out for the seventh. After giving up two straight triples and one run to leadoff the inning and end his scoreless appearances streak at three, the righty got out of the inning by striking out Giovanny Urshela and getting Yangervis Solarte to ground into an inning-ending 3-6-3 double play.
Next out of the Red Sox bullpen was Steven Wright. In two innings pitched, the knuckleballer held the Blue Jays scoreless on one hit to wrap this thing up. Over his last three appearances, Wright has tossed six consecutive shutout innings while holding opponents to just three hits over that span. In either a starting or relief role, a healthy Steven Wright could prove to be very valuable to this Red Sox pitching staff.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was without Mookie Betts for the second day in a row, but they got JD Martinez back.
Martinez got the scoring started in the first after Xander Bogaerts and Mitch Moreland reached base on back to back singles. With runners on first and third, Martinez grounded into what easily could have been an inning ending double play. Instead, Blue Jays first baseman Justin Smoak was pulled off the first base bag because of a bad throw from second baseman Devon Travis, and they could only get the force out at second while Bogaerts easily scored from third.
Fast forward to the fourth, and the Red Sox did a majority of the damage in this inning, as they plated five of their eight runs on the day. After Brock Holt and Jackie Bradley Jr. drove in two runs of their own, Andrew Benintendi capped things off by unloading on a 87 MPH changeup from Jays starter Aaron Sanchez.
That 346 foot shot to left field from Benintendi, his seventh of the season, put the Red Sox up five, and they would not have to look back in this one.
An inning later, JD Martinez got in on the home run hitting action, as he launched his 17th home run of the season 415 feet over the Green Monster.
In the sixth, Benintendi struck once again. With Jackie Bradley Jr. on first following a walk, the Ohio native ripped a triple off the left field wall to score Bradley all the way from first and move one step closer to completing the cycle.
Needing just a double now, Benintendi got one last chance in the eighth. With one out in the inning, Jays reliever Jake Petricka got Benintendi to fly out to left field. With Russell Martin out there, it looked like the ball had a chance to find some grass, but a las, the Blue Jays catcher, making his first career start in left field, came up with the catch and ended any chance of some history.
Some notes from this win:
Over his last seven games with at least one at bat, Jackie Bradley Jr. has raised his batting average from .161 all the way up to .184 with seven hits over that span. Combine that with the great defensive plays, and JBJ may indeed be turning a corner.
For the second time in three games, Andrew Benintendi fell one hit shy of the cycle. On the 26th, he finished a triple shy of accomplishing the feat. Today, he finished a double shy.
Speaking of Benintendi, according to @RedSoxStats on Twitter, he is now on pace for 40 2B, 10 3B, 21 HR, 110 RBI and 25 SB. After a slow start to the season at the plate for the Red Sox outfielder, these projections are certainly encouraging.
With the series opener in the books, Rick Porcello will be on the mound for the Red Sox in the middle game tomorrow night. He’ll be matched up against Blue Jays righty Marco Estrada, who has given up a total of nine runs in two starts against the Red Sox this season. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.