With Alex Cora back in the dugout, the Red Sox put an end to their four-game losing streak on Wednesday with a much-needed win over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
Boston defeated Toronto by a final score of 7-1 to snap their skid and improve to 8-11 on the season by doing so.
Matched up against Jays starter Ross Stripling to begin things on Wednesday, the Sox got right to work when Xander Bogaerts reached base via a two-out double in the top of the first inning. Rafael Devers followed with a sharply-hit double of his own that scored Bogaerts and made it a 1-0 game in favor of the visitors.
That sequence provided Michael Wacha with an early one-run cushion and he took advantage of it while making his fourth start of the year for the Sox. Over six quality innings of work, the veteran right-hander allowed just one run on four hits and two walks to go along with five strikeouts on the night.
The lone run the Blue Jays got off Wacha came in the third inning following a pair of back-to-back leadoff singles from Tyler Heineman and George Springer. Bo Bichette advanced Heineman to third on a fielder’s choice and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. drove the catcher in on a fielder’s choice that was nearly an inning-ending double play.
Instead, Wacha gave up the tying run at the time. But the righty rebounded by getting through the rest of the third unscathed, stranding a runner in scoring position in the fourth, and retiring each of the final six batters he faced from the fifth through the end of the sixth to end his outing on a high note.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 92 (57 strikes), Wacha ultimately improved to 2-0 while lowering his ERA on the season to 1.77. The 30-year-old hurler threw 42 four-seam fastballs, 26 changeups, 11 curveballs, nine cutters, and four sinkers. He induced eight swings and misses with his changeup and averaged 93.6 mph with his heater.
Shortly before his night came to a close, the Red Sox put Wacha in position to earn the win by pushing across two more runs in their half of the sixth. Greeting new Blue Jays reliever Trent Thornton, Bogaerts led of with a single, moved up to third on a Bogaerts single, and scored on an RBI single off the bat of J.D. Martinez. Devers, meanwhile, scored on an Enrique Hernandez sacrifice fly that gave Boston a 3-1 lead.
In relief of Wacha, Jake Diekman got the first call from Cora for the bottom of the seventh and sandwiched a six-pitch walk of Santiago Espinal in between the first two outs of the inning. Hirokazu Sawamura then came on to face George Springer, who ripped a single to center field to put runners on the corners. To his credit, Sawamura escaped the jam by fanning Bichette on a 96.5 mph four-seamer.
Moments after that happened, Martinez led off the top of the eighth with a blistering 106.2 mph double off Julian Merryweather. Hernandez laced a 105.2 mph double of his own to plate Martinez. A well-executed sacrifice bunt from Jackie Bradley Jr. allowed Hernandez to move up to third and Bobby Dalbec brought him in on a sacrifice fly to right field to put the Red Sox up 5-1.
John Schreiber took over for Sawamura in the bottom half of the eighth and impressed in his 2022 debut by sitting down the side in order on 14 pitches.
The ninth inning was all about insurance for the Sox. Bogaerts drove in Trevor Story with his fourth hit of the night and Rob Refsnyder, who was pinch-hitting for Martinez, drove in Alex Verdugo on his first. That made it a 7-1 game going into the bottom of the ninth for Tyler Danish.
Danish, in turn, wrapped things up with a 1-2-3 frame to lock down the commanding, six-run victory.
Some notes from this win:
From the Red Sox’ J.P. Long:
Next up: Whitlock vs. Manoah in series finale
The Red Sox will go for a series split with the Blue Jays on Thursday afternoon when they send right-hander Garrett Whitlock to the mound for his second career big-league start. Whitlock will be opposed by fellow second-year righty for Toronto.
First pitch from Rogers Centre is scheduled for 3:07 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Mark Blinch/Getty Images)