After blowing a five-run lead to the Blue Jays on Saturday, the Red Sox came out absolutely flat Sunday, as they fell to Toronto by a final score of 6-1 and dropped the three-game weekend set in the process of doing so.
Making his 16th start of the season for Boston in the series finale was Rick Porcello, who entered Sunday both coming off one of his more impressive outings of the year against the Minnesota Twins, as well as a not so impressive track record when opposed by the Jays.
That much held true in this one, with the right-hander surrendering five runs, all earned, on eight hits and four walks to go along with a pair of strikeouts on the afternoon. Those four free passes were the most Porcello has given up in over two months, when he walked five on April 13th against the Baltimore Orioles.
A scoreless first, followed by back-to-back two-out hits, one being a ground-rule double down the right field line and the other a broken-bat RBI single, from Rowdy Tellez and Brandon Drury in the second would be how Toronto got on the board. Neither ball was hit particularily hard, but it got the job done nonetheless.
An inning later, and more two-out trouble bit Porcello in the third, this time with Lourdes Gurriel Jr. ripping a single over Jackie Bradley Jr.’s head in center field and coming in to score on an RBI double off the bat of rookie Cavan Biggio.
From there, Porcello settled in a bit with a quick fourth and fifth, but a leadoff walk to Biggio in the sixth would ultimately prove to be the New Jersey native’s demise.
Freddy Galvis moved Biggio to third with another double, and Porcello had no one to blame but himself for how the Blue Jays plated their third run, on a balk.
Porcello told reporters postgame that he thought Christian Vazquez had been granted time from home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi, but that proved not to be the case, as Biggio was waved in.
More one-out walks to Tellez and Drury loaded the bases for Toronto backstop Danny Jansen, who essentially delivered the final blow with a two-run single through the left side infield to put his side up 5-0.
Porcello managed to keep the Jays off the scoreboard again by retiring the last two hitters he faced in the sixth, and that is how his day came to a disappointing close.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 98 (62 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball nearly 34% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing one swing and miss and topping out at 92.2 MPH with the pitch while Vazquez was behind the plate.
Getting hit with his seventh losing decision while his ERA on the season jumped up to 4.52, Porcello will look for improved results in his next time out, which should come in uncharted territory: London, England, when the Sox travel there to take on the New York Yankees later this week.
In relief of Porcello, Josh Smith gave the rest of Boston’s bullpen a day of rest by finishing this contest off with three innings of one-run ball. That one run came on an eighth inning solo homer from Eric Sogard.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a fairly familiar foe in Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman, who held Boston to one run over six innings the last time he opposed them on May 21st.
This time around, it was more of the same for the Toronto ace, with the only difference being that he didn’t give up any runs on Sunday.
The Sox’ best, most opportune scoring chance came in the bottom of the second, when with one out and Christian Vazquez and Brock Holt at first and second, Jackie Bradley Jr. nearly drove in his club’s first run with an opposite field single to left, but perhaps in a spot where Holt should have been held up at third, interim third base coach Andy Barkett waved him in, and a solid throw from Gurriel Jr. to Jansen at home was enough to snuff out the runner.
Holt was also seen reaching for his left hamstring as he was headed towards home, and he was removed in the fourth because of it. Red Sox manager Alex Cora ruled the utility man day-to-day.
If Holt had scored there in the second, that would have knotted things up at one run a piece. Instead, it went for nothing, and the Blue Jays continued to add on to their lead while the Red Sox finished the afternoon 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
It wasn’t until the ninth when they finally get on the board, and that came when with one out and Eduardo Nunez at second following a leadoff double, Bradley Jr. reached first base safely on a fielding error committed by Jays reliever Joe Biagini, which provided Nunez with enough time to come in and score.
That’s it. One unearned run and no RBI, as the Red Sox would go on to fall by a final of 6-1.
Some notes from this loss:
Xander Bogaerts’ run of consecutive games with a double has ended at seven.
From Red Sox Stats:
JD Martinez is 7-for-his-last-39 (.179) in eight games going back to June 15th.
So, the Red Sox were nine outs away from at least guaranteeing a series win on Saturday, and less than 24 hours later, they find themselves losers of their last two against an opponent bound to finish with one of the worst records in the American League this season.
A three-game set against the 36-39 Chicago White Sox is next on deck.
Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will get the start for Boston, while right-hander Lucas Giolito will do the same for Chicago.
The winner in four of his last five outings, Rodriguez is coming off back-to-back starts of seven innings or more for the first time since 2015.
In four prior starts against the White Sox, including six one-run innings in a win back on May 4th, the 26-year-old has posted a lifetime 2.66 ERA over 23 2/3 innings of work.
Giolito, meanwhile, gave up three runs over five innings in his last start against Boston on the second of May. Since then, the 24-year-old has won eight of his last nine outings, posting an ERA of 1.75 and batting average against of .168 in 61 2/3 innings pitched.
First pitch Monday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to start another winning streak.