Rafael Devers Homers, Drives in Four Runs as Red Sox Hold on to Top Blue Jays 5-4

After waiting out a 33-minute rain delay, the Red Sox bounced back from a disappointing 10-4 loss on Tuesday by barely holding on to a 5-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday to improve to 52-44 on the season.

Making his 20th start of the season for Boston and second against Toronto was Eduardo Rodriguez, who allowed a season-high six earned runs north of the border back on May 21st.

Turning things around in this one, the left-hander yielded just two runs, both earned, on three hits and three walks to go along with four strikeouts over 6 1/3 quality innings of work.

Both of those Blue Jays tallies came courtesy of the home run ball, with Teoscar Hernandez taking Rodriguez deep to center on a first-pitch, 92 MPH four-seam fastball to lead off the top half of the third, and Hernandez doing the same with one out in the fifth on another 1-1, 92 MPH heater.

Other than those two blips, Rodriguez retired 17 of the first 22 hitters he faced with the help of Jackie Bradley Jr. before running into some trouble to begin the seventh, where Cavan Biggio led things off by drawing a five-pitch walk and Justin Smoak reached on an E5 committed by Rafael Devers at third.

A simple fly out off the bat of Freddy Galvis for the first out of the inning would wind up being the last action for Rodriguez, as Hernandez was due to hit next for the Jays.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 99 (63 strikes), the 26-year-old hurler turned to his four-seamer more than 54% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing seven swings and misses and topping out at 95 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately improving to 11-4 while lowering his ERA on the year down to 4.34, the month of July has treated Rodriguez very well to this point. Over his last three starts, the Venezuela native has surrendered just four earned runs in 18 1/3 total innings pitched. That’s good for an ERA of 1.96 and not to mention a batting average against of .182 in that span as well.

Rodriguez’s next start should come on Monday against the Tampa Bay Rays.

In relief of Rodriguez, Matt Barnes came on with two runners on and two outs to get in the seventh, and he officially closed the book on the starter’s night by walking Hernandez on six pitches to load the bases before fanning Danny Jansen and Eric Sogard back-to-back to escape the jam.

From there, left-hander Josh Taylor got the call for the eighth in a legitimate high-leverage situation, but all he could manage to do was serve up a one-out homer to Lourdes Gurriel Jr., cutting his team’s lead to 4-3, and put the next two men he faced in Randal Grichuk and Biggio on base with a HBP and six-pitch walk.

So, Brandon Workman entered with the potential tying run in scoring position and potential go-ahead run at first base, and he, like Barnes in the inning prior, came through with two huge punchouts to end the threat.

Finally, in the ninth, responsible for closing this thing out, Workman walked Hernandez and Danny Jansen to lead off the inning in a 5-3 game, got the first two outs in consecutive order after that, and allowed Gurriel Jr. to drive in his second run of the evening on a first-pitch, RBI single to center.

That made it a one-run contest yet again at 5-4, but, fortunately for Boston, Workman was able to rally with a seven-pitch strikeout of Grichuk to notch his fifth save of the season.

It may have taken him a season-high 45 pitches to do so, but Workman came through when it mattered to wrap up a tight 5-4 win for the Red Sox.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Blue Jays right-hander Aaron Sanchez, who entered Wednesday with a 6.22 ERA on the season while also leading the American League in walks with 58.

Brock Holt, batting out of the nine-hole, kicked off a five-run evening for Boston by coming through with two outs in the bottom of the second and ripping a line-drive RBI single to center.

An inning later, Rafael Devers put his opposite field power on display yet again, leading the third off with his 18th home run of the season off a 0-1, 88 MPH changeup from Sanchez.

In the fourth, Devers struck with his second and third RBI of the contest on a two-out, two-run double to right following base hits from Christian Vazquez and Mookie Betts, giving his side the 4-1 advantage.

Fast forward all the way to the eighth, after the Jays had battled their way back to make it a 4-3 contest, and the budding Devers capped off a fantastic night at the plate with a one-out, run-scoring single off Toronto closer Ken Giles to drive in Holt from second.

Holt scoring gave Devers his 70th RBI of the season, and it also gave the Red Sox a 5-3 lead, which would turn out to be just enough in an eventual 5-4 victory.

Some notes from this win:

From Red Sox Notes:

From Red Sox Stats:

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

Rafael Devers’ July thus far: .353/.431/.765 with six home runs and 20 RBI.

Xander Bogaerts during his nine-game hitting streak: .474 (18-for-38) with three doubles, five homers, and 16 RBI.

Mookie Betts during his nine-game hitting streak: .447 (17-for-38) with one double, one triple, and six RBI.

Brock Holt’s last seven games: .611/.600/.778 with three RBI and five runs scored.

On a day that started with some unneeded drama, the Red Sox were able to come out with a win. They’ll look to wrap up the four-game set against the Blue Jays with a series victory on Thursday afternoon.

Left-hander Chris Sale is set to get the ball for Boston, while fellow southpaw Thomas Pannone will do the same for Toronto.

Sale has not had much success against the Jays this season, posting an ERA of 7.98 and batting average against of .359 in three starts against them so far, including an outing in which he gave up five runs in less than six innings pitched back on July 3rd.

Pannone, meanwhile, will likely serve as the opener for Toronto after being recalled from Triple-A Buffalo.

In 24 appearances (two starts) in 2019, the Rhode Island native owns a 6.18 ERA over 39 1/3 total innings of work.

His last big league outing before being sent down came against Boston on July 4th, where he allowed four earned runs over 4 1/3 frames of relief.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT on NESN. Weather could be a factor once more.

Rest in Peace, Pumpsie Green.


Author: Brendan Campbell

Blogging about the Boston Red Sox since April '17. Also support Tottenham Hotspur.

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