The Red Sox continue to find ways to lose games in heartbreaking fashion, with Tuesday’s walk-off loss to the Blue Jays marking their fourth consecutive defeat and their sixth in the last seven games.
Boston fell to Toronto in 10 innings by a final score of 6-5 at Rogers Centre to drop to 7-11 on the season. They are now 1-4 halfway through their 10-game, three-city road trip.
Nick Pivetta, making his fourth start of the year for the Sox, allowed two runs on three hits and four walks to go along with six strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings of work.
It was a grind for Pivetta, who breezed through his first two innings but ran into some trouble in the bottom of the third when he issued a leadoff walk to Santiago Espinal. Espinal and Gosuke Katoh effectively switched places when the latter grounded into a force out at second base, but he advanced into scoring position himself on a wild pitch.
Another walk of Bradley Zimmer put runners at first and second for the Jays with one out. Christian Vazquez gunned down Zimmer as he unsuccessfully attempted to steal second base but Katoh moved up to third on the play as well. He then scored on an RBI single off the bat of George Springer, who was just getting his productive night at the plate started.
Despite falling behind by a run early on, the Sox lineup quickly responded in their half of the fourth when Xander Bogaerts led off the inning with a hard-hit single off opposing starter Kevin Gausman. Bogaerts successfully stole second base on a J.D. Martinez strikeout and advanced to third on a Zack Collins throwing error. Enrique Hernandez drove him in on a sacrifice fly to knot things up at 1-1.
Pivetta, however, struggled with his command yet again in the latter half of the frame. The Canadian-born right-hander issued another leadoff walk to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. that was followed by a line-drive single from Collins. Guerrero Jr. scored from second on an Espinal RBI single, but Collins was left on base as Pivetta managed to limit the damage to just the one run.
After working hard in both the third and fourth innings, Pivetta recorded the first two outs of the fifth before walking Bo Bichette on seven pitches. Bichette would be the final batter Pivetta faced. The 29-year-old hurler wound up finishing with a final pitch count of 98 (60 strikes) while throwing 52 four-seam fastballs, 28 knuckle curveballs, and 18 sliders. He induced seven swings-and-misses and averaged 93.8 mph with his heater.
In relief of Pivetta, Hirokazu Sawamura received the first call from acting manager Will Venable out of the Boston bullpen. Sawamura stranded the lone runner he inherited in Bichette by getting Guerrero Jr. to ground out.
From there, Austin Davis tossed a scoreless sixth inning and got the first two outs of the seventh before making way for Ryan Brasier, who — like Sawamura — inherited one runner but left him on base by getting Springer to fly out to Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field.
To that point in the contest, the Sox had not been able to get much of anything going against Gausman or the first reliever out of the Blue Jays bullpen in Trevor Richards.
Boston’s fortunes changed in their half of the eighth, though, and that happened when Rafael Devers came off the bench to pinch-hit for Christian Arroyo and immediately greeted Yimi Garcia by ripping a leadoff single off of him. Another single for Vazquez put runners at first and second for Trevor Story, who came through with a clutch, 111.8 mph RBI double that scored Devers and made it a 2-2 game.
That stalemate did not last long, though, as Alex Verdugo kept the rally going with a sacrifice fly that brought in Vazquez and Bogaerts followed with a run-scoring double of his own that pushed across Story. Hernandez then drove in Bogaerts on an RBI single that gave the Red Sox a 5-2 lead just like that.
With a three-run lead to protect all of the sudden, Hansel Robles was dispatched for the eighth inning and worked his way around a two-out single in an otherwise clean frame.
The Sox had an opportunity to add on to their lead in the ninth but could not take advantage of the two walks issued by Ryan Borucki. In the bottom half of the inning, it was Jake Diekman who was in for the save.
Diekman immediately yielded back-to-back doubles to Tapia and Espinal, cutting Boston’s lead down to two runs and putting the tying run (Espinal) in scoring position. The veteran lefty punched out the pinch-hitting Lourdes Gurriel and Zimmer in back-to-back fashion, meaning he was just one out away from closing things out.
Instead of picking up the save, however, Diekman grooved a 2-1, 96 mph fastball down the heart of the plate to Springer, who took it and deposited it 423 feet to center field for the game-tying home run.
Springer’s clutch homer pulled the Blue Jays back even with the Red Sox at 5-5. Matt Barnes got the final out of the ninth and — after his side squandered another scoring opportunity — came back out for the last of the 10th.
Barnes and Co. elected to intentionally walk Guerrero Jr. in hopes of turning a double play. That strategy did not pay off, though, as Barnes walked Alejandro Kirk on seven pitches to load the bases with no outs.
A strikeout of Matt Chapman is how Barnes’ night ended with left-hander Matt Strahm being called upon to face the left-handed hitting Tapia, who proceeded to lace a 298-foot sacrifice fly to left field. Bichette easily scored from third to lift the Blue Jays to a 6-5 walk-off victory in extras.
Next up: Wacha vs. Stripling
The Red Sox will look to put an end to their four-game losing streak against the Blue Jays on Wednesday night. Michael Wacha is slated to start for Boston and he will be opposed by fellow right-hander Ross Stripling for Toronto.
First pitch from Rogers Centre is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.
(Picture of Bo Bichette and Christian Vazquez: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)