In his 11th start of the season on Wednesday, Eduardo Rodriguez took a perfect game into the fifth inning against the Blue Jays. It was not until Kendrys Morales reached on a one out single when the no-no came to an end. But still, a strike ’em out, throw ’em out double play with Devon Travis at the plate and Morales caught stealing got Rodriguez out of the inning while still facing the minimum 15 batters through five.
With a two run lead heading into the sixth, the lefty retired the first two batters he faced in order before walking Giovanny Ursehela on eight pitches. Things got even worse for Rodriguez in the next at bat, as Blue Jays right fielder Teoscar Hernandez took the native of Venezuela deep down the left field line to knot this thing up at two. In a matter of minutes, it went from cruise control to tie game.
Rodriguez would retire the side by getting Kevin Pillar to strike out swinging. After giving up a single to Justin Smoak in between getting the first two outs of the seventh, the 25-year-old’s day would come to an end with Devon Travis, a righty, coming to the plate. Finishing with exactly 100 pitches (70 strikes), Rodriguez capped off the month of May with one of his better starts of the season. He will look to build on this momentum in his next start, which should come against the Detroit Tigers next week.
In relief of the Red Sox starter, Matt Barnes would come on for his first appearance in five days. Needing just one out to get out the seventh, Devon Travis reached on a fielding error committed by Blake Swihart at first base, but Barnes got Curtis Granderson to fly out to center two pitches later to end the inning.
The UCONN product would come back out for another frame of work in the eighth, and he retired the 8-9-1 hitters for Toronto in order on 10 pitches.
Similar to Tuesday night, the ninth inning did not have to be a stressful one for the Red Sox, given the fact they had a four run lead, but it did. Lefty Brian Johnson got the call for the final frame, but he failed to record an out while surrendering back to back singles to Kevin Pillar and Yangervis Solarte. With the tying run in the on deck circle now, Alex Cora made the switch to his closer, Craig Kimbrel, to get out of another jam.
The Red Sox flamethrower walked the first batter he faced in Justin Smoak to load the bases, then served up a two-run double to Kendrys Morales to cut the Blue Jays deficit in half with still no outs in the inning. Luckily though, Kimbrel settled down and sat down the next three batters he faced in the 7-8-9 hitters for Toronto to pick up his 18th save of the season. “Another happy landing”, as Obi-Wan Kenobi would probably say if he were a Red Sox fan, but at least with the additional work, Kimbrel now only trails Mariners closer Edwin Diaz for the most saves in the American League with 19.
Offensively, the Red Sox lineup failed to score eight runs for the third straight game. Instead, they only scored six, wow.
Blake Swihart got the ball rolling in the third when he led things off with a hard hit single off of Blue Jays starter Sam Gaviglio. Two batters later, with Swihart now at second, Jackie Bradley Jr. stayed hot by ripping an RBI double to left field. That allowed Swihart to score from second and the Red Sox were up 1-0.
They easily could have scored more in the third, but Andrew Benintendi was caught stealing second after he singled, and Jackie Bradley Jr. was tagged out by catcher Luke Maile trying to score from third on a wild pitch with Xander Bogaerts at the plate. Talk about squandering some scoring opportunities.
Fast forward to the fifth, with Gaviglio still on the mound for Toronto, and Eduardo Nunez led the inning off by mashing his first home run since the first of May to put the Red Sox up by two.
An inning later, after the Blue Jays had come back to tie it up with a home run of their own, JD Martinez got in on the long ball action as well.
434 feet on that home run. 434! Martinez tied Mike Trout for the league lead in home runs with 18 thanks to that go-ahead rocket over the Green Monster.
In the eighth, Eduardo Nunez and Brock Holt tacked on another pair of runs for the Red Sox, which turned out to actually be fairly important since they only won by two runs. Nunez got his on a one out RBI double that scored Xander Bogaerts from second, and Holt got his on an RBI single that probably would have been an out if the Blue Jays infield were positioned normally. That put the Red Sox up 6-2, and despite some worries in the ninth, they would not have to look back.
Some notes from this win:
Over his last 10 games, Eduardo Nunez has quietly raised his batting average from .233 to .249, his OBP from .256 to .265, and his SLG from .353 to .381.
Over his last 10 games, Jackie Bradley Jr. is slashing .345/.406/.552 with 10 hits in 29 at bats.
With one home run and two RBIs today, JD Martinez now leads the league in runs driven in with 47 of them on the season.
All and all, the Red Sox outscored the Blue Jays 22-10 in this three game series. All three starting pitchers, Price, Porcello, and Rodriguez all looked decent on the mound as well.
Headed into a four game series against the Houston Astros in Houston that starts tomorrow, this weekend is going to be big. Drew Pomeranz kicks things off, as he will be matched up against Astros righty Lance McCullers Jr. First pitch of the first game is scheduled for 8:10 PM ET. Mookie Betts should be back in the lineup.