The Red Sox survived a six-run fifth inning from the Blue Jays and held on for their fourth straight win on Tuesday night. Powered by four home runs, including two from Connor Wong, Boston defeated Toronto by a final score of 7-6 at Fenway Park to improve to 17-14 on the season.
With left-hander Yusei Kikuchi starting for the Jays, the Sox opened the scoring in their half of the second inning. Following back-to-back groundouts from Enrique Hernandez and Masataka Yoshida, Christian Arroyo got his side on the board by crushing a 404-foot solo shot over the Green Monster for his first home run of the year.
An inning later, Alex Verdugo led off with his second double in as many at-bats and then scored from second on a one-out RBI single off the bat of Rob Refsnyder. In the third, Yoshida extended his hitting streak to 12 consecutive games by taking his countryman in Kikuchi 392 feet deep into Boston’s bullpen for his sixth homer of the season. The 103.1 mph blast put Boston up, 3-0, going into the fifth.
To that point in the contest, Red Sox starter Tanner Houck was cruising. The right-hander kicked off his sixth start of the year by tossing four straight scoreless frames. He than ran into some serious trouble in the top of the fifth. Back-to-back one-out singles from Danny Jansen and Kevin Kiermaier followed by a two-out walk from Bo Bichette filled the bases for Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Guerrero Jr. came through by plating both Jansen and Kiermaier on a two-run single to left field to cut Toronto’s deficit to one. Bichette, who went from first to third on the play, then scored the tying run on a passed ball. The Blue Jays were not done there, though. After Matt Chapman singled to put runners on the corners, Daulton Varsho deposited a 406-foot three-run home run into the right field bleachers.
Just like that, the Blue Jays were in possession of a 6-3 lead. The Red Sox, however, wasted little time in responding to Toronto’s six-run rally. Verdugo was hit by a pitch and Justin Turner singled to lead off the bottom of the fifth. Refsnyder then drove in Verdugo on his second run-scoring hit of the night. Two batters later, Yoshida brought Boston back to within one run by pushing across Turner off new reliever Zach Pop.
Despite struggling in the fifth, Houck came back out for the sixth on account of the Red Sox having a short bullpen on Tuesday. He bounced back and kept the deficit at one by retiring the final three batters he faced. And so the 26-year-old wound up allowing six earned runs on six hits and three walks to go along with five strikeouts over six innings of work. Of the 96 pitches he threw, 57 went for strikes.
After Houck blanked the Jays in the top of the sixth, Wong led off the latter-half of the inning with his first homer of the night — a 368-foot laser off Pop that deflected off the top of the Monster and knotted things up at six runs apiece. Following two scoreless innings of relief from John Schreiber and lefty Richard Bleier, Wong was yet again in the spotlight.
Going up against Erik Swanson to lead off the bottom of the eighth, Wong took aim at the Green Monster once more. This time, he took a 2-1, 93.1 mph fastball down the heart of the plate and demolished it 353 feet into the first row of Monster seats. The towering blast gave the Red Sox a 7-6 edge heading into the ninth.
With closer Kenley Jansen and setup man Chris Martin not available, manager Alex Cora turned to Josh Winckowski, who had just pitched two innings on Monday. Winckowski responded to the call by working his way around a one-out single and inducing a game-ending double play. He earned the first save of his career as a result.
Wong stays hot, literally
In his first career multi-homer game, Connor Wong went a perfect 4-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. He may have finished a triple shy of the cycle, but his four hits left his bat at 113.6 mph, 105.4 mph, 98.2 mph, and 105.2 mph.
Next up: Manoah vs. Pivetta
The Red Sox will look to ensure a series victory over the Blue Jays with another win on Wednesday night. Nick Pivetta is slated to get the start for Boston opposite fellow right-hander Alek Manoah for Toronto.
First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.
(Picture of Connor Wong: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)