On a rainy Wednesday night at Fenway Park that caused first pitch of their game to be pushed back by about 31 minutes, the Red Sox fell short of their pursuit of another come-from-behind-victory and were instead beaten by the Blue Jays, 6-3, to drop to 12-7 on the season.
Garrett Richards struggled mightily and battled control issues in his fourth start of the year for Boston in this one.
Over 4 2/3 innings of work, the veteran right-hander yielded four runs — all of which were earned — on four hits, one hit batsman, and a season-high six walks to go along with two strikeouts on the night.
Richards put the first three Blue Jays he faced — Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. — on base on a walk, a HBP, and an RBI single off the bat of Guerrero Jr.
He managed to escape the top half of the first having just given up the one run, but more trouble arose for Richards in the second when he surrendered an additional three runs in an inning that included three hits, two walks, a sacrifice fly and run-scoring groundout, and a wild pitch.
After recording the final out of the second, Richards did string together a decent stretch in which he retired eight out of 10 Toronto hitters at one point, but a two-out walk of Marcus Semien in the fifth that put runners on first and second would mark the end of his day.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 92 — only 48 of which were strikes, the 32-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball 72% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing just two swings-and-misses while topping out at 95.7 mph with the pitch.
Falling to 0-2 on the year while seeing his ERA inflate to 6.48, Richards will look to bounce back in his next time out, which should come against the Mets in Queens next Tuesday.
In relief of Richards, Hirokazu Sawamura came on with two outs and two runners on in the top half of the fifth, recorded the final out of the frame, then faced the minimum three batters in a scoreless sixth inning.
From there, Phillips Valdez continued his impressive season-opening run by punching out two in a perfect top of the seventh, Austin Brice danced his way around traffic while keeping the Jays off the board in the eighth, and Josh Taylor got rocked for two runs on two hits and three walks in the ninth, which resulted in Toronto going from having a 4-3 lead to a 6-3 lead.
Taylor now owns a 10.80 ERA through his first eight appearances of the season.
On the other side of things, a Red Sox lineup that welcomed back the likes of Alex Verdugo and Rafael Devers was matched up against Blue Jays right-hander Trent Thornton to begin things on Wednesday.
After falling behind 4-0 early on, Devers got the scoring started for his side in the fourth inning by driving in J.D. Martinez from third on an RBI groundout to short off reliever Tommy Milone.
A double and single from Marwin Gonzalez and Bobby Dalbec to lead off the fifth put the Sox in a prime position to score, and they did so when Enrique Hernandez greeted David Phelps and drilled a one-out, run-scoring double down the left field line that brought in Gonzalez from second.
Now trailing by just two runs with one out and runners in scoring position, Boston appeared ready to turn this game on its head with the meat of their lineup due to hit.
Instead of that happening, though, Verdugo was called out on strikes, Martinez walked to fill the bases, and Xander Bogaerts grounded out to retire the side and thus extinguish the threat.
Bogaerts was able to cut into the deficit by crushing his second home run in as many days in the bottom of the eighth, but three runs is all the Red Sox could manage offensively in what would go down as a 6-3 defeat.
Some notes from this loss:
The Red Sox went 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position on Wednesday.
The Red Sox are 11-4 in games not started by Garrett Richards.
The Red Sox are 6-6 at Fenway Park and 6-1 away from Fenway Park.
After winning nine in a row from April 5-14, the Red Sox are 3-4 in their last seven games.
The Red Sox — after settling for a series-split against the Jays — will welcome the Mariners into town for a four-game weekend series that begins Thursday night.
Right-hander Nick Pivetta will be getting the ball for Boston, and he will be opposed by fellow righty Justin Dunn for Seattle.
Dunn, a former first-round pick of the Mets back in 2016, spent three years at Boston College from 2014-2016.
First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Garrett Richards: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)