A bad weekend only got worse for the Red Sox on Sunday afternoon as they were swept by the Blue Jays. Boston fell to Toronto by a final score of 8-4, marking its fifth straight loss to drop back to .500 (48-48) for the first time since June 5.
Brayan Bello, making his third start of the season and first since July 11, allowed five earned runs on nine hits and two walks to go along with two strikeouts over four innings of work.
All five runs scored off the rookie right-hander came right away in the top of the first inning. George Springer and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. immediately put the pressure on with a leadoff single and double. Bo Bichette then drew a one-out walk to fill the bases. Bello struck out Teoscar Hernandez for the second out, but was unable to escape the jam as Cavan Biggio plated his side’s first two runs on a two-run single through the left side of the infield.
Another walk of Matt Chapman filled the bases with Raimel Tapia, who again came through in that spot by ripping a bases-clearing, three-run triple into the triangle to give Toronto a commanding 5-0 lead out of the gate.
Boston was at least able to counter by pushing across one run in the latter half of the first. Opposed by Blue Jays starter Ross Stripling, Jarren Duran laced a leadoff double, moved up to third base on an Alex Verdugo single, and scored on an RBI single off the bat of Xander Bogaerts. A Franchy Cordero groundout allowed Verdugo and Bogaerts to advance an additional 90 feet, but Bobby Dalbec was called out on strikes to kill any shot of extending the rally.
Fast forward to the fourth, Cordero led off with a softly-hit single off Stripling, stole second base with two outs, and then scored from second on a 261-foot RBI single from Yolmer Sanchez that cut Toronto’s advantage down to three runs at 5-2.
Bello, meanwhile, provided the Sox with four innings yet again despite dealing with a fair amount of traffic basepaths. By the time he got the final batter he faced in Bichette to ground into an inning-ending double play in the fourth, the 23-year-old’s pitch count had risen to 67 (41 strikes). His ERA on the season now sits at 10.50.
In relief of Bello, Hirokazu Sawamura received the first call out of the Boston bullpen from manager Alex Cora. Sawamura, in turn, issued a leadoff walk to Hernandez and a one-out out double to Chapman. Hernandez scored on an RBI single from Tapia while Chapman scored on a fielder’s choice. Tapia then advanced to third on a Jeter Downs fielding error and scored when Guerrero Jr. reached base on an infield single.
That sequence made it an 8-2 contest in favor of the Blue Jays. The Red Sox, again, got one of those runs back in their half of the fifth when Jarren Duran ripped a one-out triple off reliever Trevor Richards and scored on an RBI single off the bat of Verdugo.
An inning later, Jackie Bradley Jr. took Richards 404 feet deep over the Green Monster for his third home run of the season. From that point forward, however, Bradley Jr. accounted for Boston’s only other hit with a leadoff single off Adam Cimber in the bottom of the ninth that ultimately amounted to nothing.
After Sawamura surrendered three runs in the fifth, Garrett Whitlock, Austin Davis, Kaleb Ort, and Jake Diekman combined for four scoreless frames. But it was not enough in the end as 8-4 would go on to be Sunday’s final score at Fenway Park.
With the loss, the Red Sox are now 1-9 in their last 10 games, 5-15 in the month of July, and 12-29 against divisional opponents on the season. They currently trail the Mariners (51-45) for the third and final American League Wild Card spot.
Next up: Pivetta vs. Plesac
Looking to put this weekend behind them, the Red Sox will welcome the 48-46 Guardians into town for a four-game series that beings on Monday night. Nick Pivetta is slated to start the series opener for Boston while fellow right-hander Zach Plesac is in line to do the same for Cleveland.
First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Brayan Bello: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)