After being limited to just one run in a 4-1 loss in Game 1 of Wednesday’s doubleheader at Fenway Park, the Red Sox flipped the script on the Blue Jays by taking the seven-inning night cap by a final score of 4-1, therefore splitting the twin bill with their division rivals.
Matched up against another left-hander in Jays starter Steven Matz, the Sox — like they did earlier in the afternoon — got the scoring started right away in the bottom half of the first inning.
Enrique Hernandez led things off with a hard-hit double off Matz and Rafael Devers followed by ripping an RBI single to drive him in, but was thrown out at second base after trying to extend his run-scorning single into a double.
In the second, Alex Verdugo and Kevin Plawecki reached base via back-to-back singles to lead off the frame, while Bobby Dalbec advanced both runners 90 feet on a groundout and Jarren Duran got a productive night at the plate started with a sacrifice fly to right field that brought in Verdugo.
That early offense gave Red Sox starter Tanner Houck a two-run cushion to work with, and he did just that by impressing in his fourth start (sixth appearance) of the season on Wednesday.
Over four solid innings of work, Houck yielded just one earned run while scattering all of two hits and one walk to go along with seven strikeouts on the night.
The right-hander began his outing by retiring nine of the first 10 hitters he faced, as he took a no-hit bid into the fourth inning before issuing a leadoff double to Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
A passed ball from Red Sox catcher Kevin Plawecki allowed Guerrero Jr. to advance up to third, and the Blue Jays took full advantage of that when Bo Bichette ripped a line-drive single to left field to bring in his side’s first run and cut Boston’s lead down to one run at 2-1.
Houck proceeded to fan Teoscar Hernandez and get Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to line out out to end the inning — as well as his night — while stranding Bichette in scoring position.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 75 (50 strikes), the 25-year-old hurler did not factor into the decision, though he did lower his ERA on the season down to 2.45.
Heading into the second half of this contest with a 2-1 lead to protect, the Boston bats struck once more in the fourth inning, and Plawecki proved to be the catalyst with a leadoff single.
After Dalbec struck out, Duran put his elite speed on full display when he took the fifth pitch he saw from Matz — a 1-2, 77 mph curveball down the heart of the plate — and sent it 359 feet towards the triangle in the right-center field gap.
Blue Jays center fielder George Springer bobbled the ball while trying to corral it, which in turn allowed a hustling Duran to score on the play, though it was ruled a triple and fielding error on the part of Springer.
Still, Duran’s Little League home run gave the Red Sox a 4-1 lead.
Garrett Whitlock took over for Houck in the fifth and tossed two scoreless innings, paving the way for Matt Barnes to come on for the seventh and shut the door on the Jays to notch his 23rd save of the season and secure the 4-1 victory for the Sox.
With the win, the Red Sox improve to 63-40 and are 8-4 since the All-Star break.
Devers removed with tight quad
Rafael Devers was taken out of this game in the sixth inning after tightening his quad while running his bases on a double in the fourth. He was replaced at third base by Bobby Dalbec (Michael Chavis took over at first) and will not play on Thursday — which was already planned.
Next up: Ryu vs. Rodriguez
The Red Sox will go for the series victory over the Blue Jays on Thursday night, with left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez getting the ball for Boston and fellow southpaw Hyun Jin Ryu doing the same for Toronto.
First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.
(Picture of Jarren Duran: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)