The Red Sox will board their late-night flight to Philadelphia having gotten away with what feels like highway robbery following a drama-filled, come-from-behind 8-7 victory over the Blue Jays at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Fla. on Thursday.
Down to their final out in the ninth inning while trailing 7-6, J.D. Martinez crushed a go-ahead two-run home run to deep right-center field off Jays closer Rafael Dolis.
Martinez’s clutch two-run blast — the 250th homer of his major-league career — resulted in the Red Sox going from trailing by a run to leading by a run in what would ultimately go down as an 8-7 triumph.
With the win — which also secured a series victory over Toronto — Boston improves to 27-18 on the season and maintains a one-game lead over the Rays for first place in the American League East.
Early second-inning offense
Matched up against Blue Jays left-hander Steven Matz to begin things on Thursday, the Red Sox lineup got off to another fast start by pushing across a bevy of runs in their half of the second inning, all with two outs, to get out to an early lead.
After Xander Bogaerts struck out and Rafael Devers grounded out, Matz appeared to be on the verge of his second straight 1-2-3 inning. A Christian Vazquez single halted those plans, though, and Hunter Renfroe followed with a two-out single of his own.
Bobby Dalbec’s recent hot stretch continued when he brought in both Vazquez and Renfroe on a 349-foot three-run shot to right field that was good for his fifth home run of the season that also put the Red Sox up 3-2.
Michael Chavis ripped another extra-base hit, a double, and quickly came into score on an RBI single off the bat of Enrique Hernandez. Boston’s leadoff man and Alex Verdugo both scored moments later on a two-run single courtesy of Martinez.
In total, the Sox collected seven straight two-out hits off Matz in the second inning before Bogaerts drew a walk and Devers was called out on strikes.
Pivetta’s tough outing
Having yielded two runs to the Blue Jays in the first inning Thursday night, Red Sox starter Nick Pivetta was gifted a three-run lead as he came back out for his second frame of work.
Things did not get any easier for Pivetta, though, as the right-hander surrendered another run in the second. He did manage to settle in a bit by stringing together two consecutive scoreless innings, but more trouble arose in the fifth when the Jays tacked on two more runs on two hits and a Rafael Devers fielding error — the first of three Red Sox errors on the night.
Pivetta’s outing would come to a close after he recorded the final out of the fifth. The 28-year-old wound up being charged with five runs — four of which were earned — on seven hits, two walks, and eight strikeouts over five innings of work that saw his ERA on the season inflate to 3.59.
Red Sox bullpen takes over
In relief of Pivetta, Hirokazu Sawamura got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen for the bottom half of the sixth, and he could only record two outs. But not before giving up two runs — none of which were earned — on three hits, one walk, a fielding error committed by Hunter Renfroe, and a missed catch error committed by Michael Chavis that allowed the Blue Jays to take a 7-5 lead.
From there, Darwinzon Hernandez got the final out of the sixth and first two outs of the seventh inning before Phillips Valdez was dispatched to finish up the bottom of the seventh and toss a scoreless eighth inning, too.
Resilient Red Sox
Trailing by two runs at 7-5 going into the ninth inning, the Red Sox had no choice but to rely on the bottom of their lineup to ignite a late rally.
Dalbec and Chavis answered that call, as they led things off with back-to-back singles off Doilis as the lineup flipped back over.
Verdugo drove in Dalbec on an RBI groundout, which put Martinez in position to be the hero by mashing the game-winning, three-run home run.
The Red Sox now have 17 come-from-behind wins this season
Barnes rebounds and shuts the door on Toronto
Making his first relief appearance since blowing his first save of the season against the Angels on Sunday, Red Sox closer Matt Barnes bounced back by closing things out against the Blue Jays on Thursday.
The flame-throwing right-hander maneuvered his way around a two-out walk of Rowdy Tellez to otherwise punch out the side and preserve the 8-7 win for the Sox in the process of notching his 10th save of the year.
Next up: Perez vs. Nola
The Red Sox will arrive in Philadelphia early Friday morning and open up a three-game series against the 22-22 Phillies later that night at Citizens Bank Park.
Left-hander Martin Perez is slated to get the ball for Boston in the opener, while ace right-hander Aaron Nola is set to do the same for Philadelphia.
First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN+.
(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)