The Red Sox were three outs away from picking up a hard-fought, 1-0 shutout victory over the Blue Jays at Fenway Park on Monday.
Matt Barnes came on for the save in the top half of the ninth and got the first two outs of the inning easily before making the decision to pitch to one of the hottest hitters on the planet in Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
That decision would turn out to be costly for the Sox, as Barnes served up a towering, 451-foot mammoth shot of a game-tying home run in the process of being charged with his third blown save of the year.
Still, even with that setback, the Red Sox did not falter going into the bottom portion of the inning.
Matched up against reliever Rafeal Dolis, Alex Verdugo and J.D. Martinez led off with a pair of singles to eventually put a runner in scoring position with one out for Rafael Devers.
On the fourth pitch he saw from Dolis, Devers got a hold of a 95 mph sinker on the inner half of the plate and crushed it off the Green Monster.
Devers knew it was good for a hit as soon as it left the bat, as Verdugo came into score from second to seal a 2-1 walk-off victory for the Red Sox.
With the win, not only does Boston halt a two-game losing skid, but they also salvage a series split with Toronto in addition to improving to 40-27 on the season.
Eovaldi takes perfect game into fourth inning
The Sox were in desperate need of a quality starting pitching performance at on Monday, and that’s exactly what they got from Nathan Eovaldi.
Having seen his team get outscored 25-6 over its last two games, both losses, Eovaldi put together one of his most impressive outings of the season to date against the Blue Jays.
In what was his 14th start of the year, the veteran right-hander kept the Jays off the scoreboard while scattering just three hits and one walk to go along with four strikeouts over 6 2/3 pristine innings of work.
After retiring the first 10 hitters he faced, Eovaldi saw his perfect game and no-hit bid come to an end all at once when he yielded a one-out single to Bo Bichette in the top of the fourth.
Eovaldi escaped the inning without allowing Bichette to get past second base before sitting down six more Jays batters in order.
The seventh presented a bit of a challenge for the righty, as he gave up back-to-back singles to lead things off, but nullified that by inducing a 5-4-3 double play off the bat of Randal Grichuk; at which point his night came to a close.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 81 (55 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball 40% of the time he was on the mound Monday, inducing just one swing-and-miss while topping out at 100.3 mph with the pitch.
Despite being hit with the no-decision, Eovaldi did lower his ERA on the season to 3.78. His next start should come against the Royals in Kansas City on Sunday.
Verdugo comes through early
The Red Sox lineup was matched up against an unfamiliar opponent in the form of Blue Jays rookie right-hander Alek Manoah, who was making his first career start at Fenway Park, to begin things on Monday.
While Manoah got through the first two innings unscathed, the bottom half of the third was somewhat of a different story.
With two outs and Enrique Hernandez at first base after reaching on a fielder’s choice, Alex Verdugo delivered what would turn out to be the most important Red Sox hit of the night.
On a 1-0, 94 mph fastball from Manoah, Verdugo laced a double to left field that was just out of the reach of left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
Because the ball eluded Gurriel Jr.’s glove, Hernandez was able to hustle in to score all the way from first while Verdugo was credited with an RBI double.
Taylor shines again out of bullpen, Barnes earns win
By the time Nathan Eovaldi’s night had come to an end with two outs in the top of the seventh, left-hander Josh Taylor came on in relief of the starter.
Taylor fanned Rowdy Tellez on six pitches to end the inning and punched out two more in a shutout top of the eighth to extend his scoreless appearances streak to 18 consecutive games dating back to April 30.
Matt Barnes, meanwhile, was able to strike out Teoscar Hernandez after giving up that game-tying home run to limit the damage in the ninth, and he earned his third winning decision of the season since he was the last Red Sox pitcher to take the mound on Monday.
Next up: On to Atlanta
The Red Sox will board a flight to Atlanta for the start of a three-city, eight-game road trip on deck that starts with two against the Braves at Truist Park.
Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will get the start for Boston in the opening game of the two-game interleague series on Tuesday, while rookie southpaw Tucker Davidson will do the same for Atlanta.
First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:20 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Rafael Devers: Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)