New York Mets’ Marcus Stroman Thought He May Have Been Headed to Red Sox Among Other Clubs, per Report

In case you missed it, the Toronto Blue Jays dealt right-hander Marcus Stroman to the New York Mets on Sunday in exchange for a pair of minor-league pitching prospects .

With that, reports broke out on Sunday that the former Blue Jay star caused some commotion within his own clubhouse and ‘bolted’ out of there, per The Athletic’s Blake Murphy.

Earlier Monday, The New York Post’s Mike Puma reported why Stroman may have reacted that way, saying that he was disappointed that he wasn’t traded to a contending team, and, “he thought he might be headed to the Red Sox, Yankees or Astros.”

The Red Sox were never really in on Stroman, per se, although they did send top advisor Frank Wren to a July 9th game between the Blue Jays and Detroit Tigers that the 2019 All-Star was starting in, according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi.

On Monday, in a conference call with the New York media, Stroman clarified what went down in Toronto the day before, stating, “It had nothing to do with the Mets at all,” and stemmed more from voicing his frustrations in an exit interview with the Jays.

Stroman, 28, posted a 2.96 ERA and .248 batting average against over 21 starts and 124 2/3 innings pitched with Toronto this season.

He is also good friends with Red Sox’ left-hander David Price, who joined Stroman in the Blue Jays’ rotation when he was acquired from the Tigers back in 2015.

That could very well be a reason why Stroman may have been hopeful to join Boston this year despite the bad blood he seems to have with a few notable Red Sox players, staff, and Hall of Famers.

This is all just pure speculation, though. It’s not like Stroman has come out himself and said that he wished he got traded to the Red Sox. It just never seemed like the best of fits anyway.

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Chris Sale Allows Five Runs on Three Homers as Red Sox Fall to Blue Jays 6-3

After snapping a three-game skid with a 10-6 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday, the Red Sox fell flat once again on Wednesday, dropping a 6-3 contest to fall back to 45-41 on the season.

Making his 18th start of the season for Boston in the middle game of this three-game series was Chris Sale, who capped off his month of June with two subpar outings against these Blue Jays and the Chicago White Sox.

That trend continued in his first action of July, as the left-hander surrendered five runs, all earned, on a season-high nine hits, two walks, and one HBP to go along with just five strikeouts on the night.

All five of those runs came courtesy of three different home run balls, with Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Danny Jansen, and Brandon Drury taking Sale deep in this one.

Gurriel Jr. struck first in the bottom half of the third, putting his team on the board right after Vladimir Guerrero Jr. grounded into a 1-2-3 double play with a 406-foot solo shot off a 1-0 93 MPH fastball on the inner half of the plate.

Jansen made Sale pay for walking Justin Smoak with one out in the fourth by launching his sixth homer of the year, a 421-foot shot to deep left field on a first-pitch 95 MPH fastball from Sale.

That dinger knotted things up at 3-3, and it seemed as though Sale would be able to escape the sixth unscathed following another GIDP to erase a leadoff HBP.

Unfortunately for the Florida native, a Rowdy Tellez two-out single brought Brandon Drury to the plate for the third time, and he unloaded on a 1-1 91 MPH heater down the heart of the plate by depositing it 408 feet over the center field wall.

The Blue Jays went up 5-3 on that booming shot, and Sale’s evening quickly came to a close before Drury had even crossed home.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 104 (69 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler turned to his four-seamer more than 44% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing one swing and miss and topping out at 96.5 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez, not Sandy Leon, was behind the plate.

Falling to 3-8 with his ERA jumping up to 4.04 on the season, the first half of Sale’s 2019 did not go unexpected. Inconsistent would be a better way to put it. He’ll look to begin the second half of the year on a more positive note in his next time out, which should come against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first series out of the All-Star break.

In relief of Sale, Marcus Walden came on with one out to get in the sixth, got that, and worked his way around a one-out walk in a scoreless seventh as well.

Finally, Steven Wright got the call for the eighth, yielded one run on a sacrifice fly from Freddy Galvis to add on another run to the deficit at 6-3, and that would go on to be Wednesday’s final score.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Blue Jays right-hander Jacob Waguespack after fellow righty David Phelps served as Toronto’s opener and tossed a scoreless first.

Fast forward to the third, Rafael Devers got the scoring started for his team with a two-out, two-run single off Waguespack, plating Mookie Betts and Brock Holt from second and third to make it a 2-0 game early.

An inning later, Christian Vazquez came through with two outs this time around, taking the first pitch he saw from the Jays right-hander, a 90 MPH cutter on the outer half of the plate, and sending his 13th big fly of the season 408 feet to dead center.

Vazquez’s monstrous blast gave the Sox a 3-1 advantage, but it would be the last run they scored all night.

Oh sure, they had their chances, especially in the seventh with one out and runners on second and third in a 5-3 game for the pinch-hitting Eduardo Nunez following a Michael Chavis double.

New Toronto reliever Daniel Hudson held his own though, getting Nunez to fly out to left and fanning Mookie Betts on six pitches to kill any shot of a rally.

In the eighth, Hudson stranded J.D. Martinez at first after he reached on a two-out single, and Blue Jays closer Ken Giles needed just 10 pitches to retire Vazquez, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Chavis in order in the ninth, all but wrapping up the 6-3 loss for Boston.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox went 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position Wednesday and left five men on base.

On the day he was named an All-Star for the second time in his big league career, Xander Bogaerts picked up his first ever Golden Sombrero by punching out four times Wednesday.

During his seven-game hitting streak, Rafael Devers is slashing .516/.531/.935 with two homers and 10 RBI.

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

In his last three starts, Chris Sale has posted a 7.02 ERA over 16 2/3 innings pitched.

The Red Sox are 6-12 in games started by Chris Sale this season.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this three-game series on Thursday.

Right-hander Hector Velazquez is set to get the ball for Boston, while fellow righty Marcus Stroman is expected to do the same for Toronto.

With Brian Johnson on the shelf due to “non-baseball” reasons, Velazquez has taken over the fifth spot in the Sox’ rotation for the time being.

As a starter this season, the 30-year-old is 1-3 with a 6.41 ERA and .239 batting average against over 19 2/3 innings of work.

In five career appearances (two starts) at Rogers Centre, Velazquez owns a lifetime 2.57 ERA and .292 batting average against over a small seven inning sample size.

Stroman, meanwhile, has already faced the Red Sox twice this year, and has only allowed one earned run in those two starts and 12 innings pitched. The Blue Jays are 2-0 in those games.

In his last start against the Kansas City Royals this past Saturday, Stroman left early with a cramp in his left pectoral muscle, so it will be worth seeing if that has any impact on Toronto’s ace.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 7:07 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for the series win.

Happy Independence Day, everyone.

Red Sox Fail to Take Series, Fall to 18-19 at Fenway Park in 6-1 Loss to Blue Jays

After blowing a five-run lead to the Blue Jays on Saturday, the Red Sox came out absolutely flat Sunday, as they fell to Toronto by a final score of 6-1 and dropped the three-game weekend set in the process of doing so.

Making his 16th start of the season for Boston in the series finale was Rick Porcello, who entered Sunday both coming off one of his more impressive outings of the year against the Minnesota Twins, as well as a not so impressive track record when opposed by the Jays.

That much held true in this one, with the right-hander surrendering five runs, all earned, on eight hits and four walks to go along with a pair of strikeouts on the afternoon. Those four free passes were the most Porcello has given up in over two months, when he walked five on April 13th against the Baltimore Orioles.

A scoreless first, followed by back-to-back two-out hits, one being a ground-rule double down the right field line and the other a broken-bat RBI single, from Rowdy Tellez and Brandon Drury in the second would be how Toronto got on the board. Neither ball was hit particularily hard, but it got the job done nonetheless.

An inning later, and more two-out trouble bit Porcello in the third, this time with Lourdes Gurriel Jr. ripping a single over Jackie Bradley Jr.’s head in center field and coming in to score on an RBI double off the bat of rookie Cavan Biggio.

From there, Porcello settled in a bit with a quick fourth and fifth, but a leadoff walk to Biggio in the sixth would ultimately prove to be the New Jersey native’s demise.

Freddy Galvis moved Biggio to third with another double, and Porcello had no one to blame but himself for how the Blue Jays plated their third run, on a balk.

Porcello told reporters postgame that he thought Christian Vazquez had been granted time from home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi, but that proved not to be the case, as Biggio was waved in.

More one-out walks to Tellez and Drury loaded the bases for Toronto backstop Danny Jansen, who essentially delivered the final blow with a two-run single through the left side infield to put his side up 5-0.

Porcello managed to keep the Jays off the scoreboard again by retiring the last two hitters he faced in the sixth, and that is how his day came to a disappointing close.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 98 (62 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball nearly 34% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing one swing and miss and topping out at 92.2 MPH with the pitch while Vazquez was behind the plate.

Getting hit with his seventh losing decision while his ERA on the season jumped up to 4.52, Porcello will look for improved results in his next time out, which should come in uncharted territory: London, England, when the Sox travel there to take on the New York Yankees later this week.

In relief of Porcello, Josh Smith gave the rest of Boston’s bullpen a day of rest by finishing this contest off with three innings of one-run ball. That one run came on an eighth inning solo homer from Eric Sogard.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a fairly familiar foe in Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman, who held Boston to one run over six innings the last time he opposed them on May 21st.

This time around, it was more of the same for the Toronto ace, with the only difference being that he didn’t give up any runs on Sunday.

The Sox’ best, most opportune scoring chance came in the bottom of the second, when with one out and Christian Vazquez and Brock Holt at first and second, Jackie Bradley Jr. nearly drove in his club’s first run with an opposite field single to left, but perhaps in a spot where Holt should have been held up at third, interim third base coach Andy Barkett waved him in, and a solid throw from Gurriel Jr. to Jansen at home was enough to snuff out the runner.

Holt was also seen reaching for his left hamstring as he was headed towards home, and he was removed in the fourth because of it. Red Sox manager Alex Cora ruled the utility man day-to-day.

If Holt had scored there in the second, that would have knotted things up at one run a piece. Instead, it went for nothing, and the Blue Jays continued to add on to their lead while the Red Sox finished the afternoon 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

It wasn’t until the ninth when they finally get on the board, and that came when with one out and Eduardo Nunez at second following a leadoff double, Bradley Jr. reached first base safely on a fielding error committed by Jays reliever Joe Biagini, which provided Nunez with enough time to come in and score.

That’s it. One unearned run and no RBI, as the Red Sox would go on to fall by a final of 6-1.

Some notes from this loss:

Xander Bogaerts’ run of consecutive games with a double has ended at seven.

From Red Sox Stats:

JD Martinez is 7-for-his-last-39 (.179) in eight games going back to June 15th.

So, the Red Sox were nine outs away from at least guaranteeing a series win on Saturday, and less than 24 hours later, they find themselves losers of their last two against an opponent bound to finish with one of the worst records in the American League this season.

A three-game set against the 36-39 Chicago White Sox is next on deck.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will get the start for Boston, while right-hander Lucas Giolito will do the same for Chicago.

The winner in four of his last five outings, Rodriguez is coming off back-to-back starts of seven innings or more for the first time since 2015.

In four prior starts against the White Sox, including six one-run innings in a win back on May 4th, the 26-year-old has posted a lifetime 2.66 ERA over 23 2/3 innings of work.

Giolito, meanwhile, gave up three runs over five innings in his last start against Boston on the second of May. Since then, the 24-year-old has won eight of his last nine outings, posting an ERA of 1.75 and batting average against of .168 in 61 2/3 innings pitched.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to start another winning streak.

 

 

 

 

Eduardo Rodriguez Gets Taken Deep Three Times as #RedSox Fall to Blue Jays in Blowout 10-3 Loss

How do you follow up a 12-2 blowout win to open up a seven-game road trip? By getting blown out yourself the very next day, of course!

That’s right, after blowing the doors off the Blue Jays in the first of a four-game set on Monday, the Red Sox fell behind in the fourth inning on Tuesday and never recovered.

Making his 10th start of the season for Boston was Eduardo Rodriguez, who entered the day unbeaten in his last seven outings.

Working the first five innings of this one, the left-hander yielded six runs, all earned, on six hits and three walks to go along with five strikeouts on the night. Half of those hits went for Blue Jays home runs.

Retiring eight of the first 10 hitters he faced, the bottom half of the fourth is where things fell apart for Rodriguez, and it all started with a harmless leadoff single off the bat of baseball’s top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr., making his first ever start against the Red Sox after being held out of Toronto’s lineup Monday.

That was followed up by Justin Smoak flying out to center field for the first out of the inning, and then Rodriguez went ahead and made his first mistake of the evening, an 83 MPH changeup located way inside that Blue Jays designated hitter Rowdy Tellez took deep to right field to put his team on the board at 2-0.

Two pitches later, Toronto added to their lead, this time with Randal Grichuk taking Rodriguez deep to left on a 1-0, 87 MPH changeup on the bottom half of the strikezone.

In the fifth, it was once again Vladimir Guerrero Jr. who would wind up being the catalyst for another three-run inning by ripping another single off of Rodriguez with two outs in the inning.

After Justin Smoak drew a five-pitch walk and a wild pitch allowed both runners to advance up 90 feet, Tellez struck again for his second dinger of the night, this one a three-run, 397 foot shot to right field that seemed avoidable.

Why do I say that? Well, when you see where Christian Vazquez was set up, and then when you see where that 82 MPH slider ended up, it becomes a bit frustrating.

Anyway, Rodriguez got Grichuk to fly out to center for the final out of the fifth, and that is how his night would come to a close.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 95 (57 strikes), the 26-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball nearly 37% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday, inducing two swings and misses and topping out at 93.8 MPH with the pitch.

Falling to 4-3 on the season with his ERA jumping up to 5.43, Rodriguez will look to improve those numbers in his next time out against the Houston Astros on Sunday.

In relief of Rodriguez, Tyler Thornburg entered this contest in the sixth with his team trailing by five runs and left with them trailing by seven thanks to back-to-back RBI singles from Danny Jansen and Brandon Drury.

From there, Colten Brewer allowed an additional pair of runs to score in the seventh on a two-RBI double from Drury before retiring the side in order in the eighth. Just a banner day for Red Sox pitching.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against the ace of the Blue Jays pitching staff in 5’7″ right-hander Marcus Stroman.

Despite having several opportunities to push some runs across, the Boston bats didn’t get going until it was already too late.

It started in the second inning, really. No outs, runners on first and second in a scoreless game. Michael Chavis grounds into a 6-4-3 double play and Xander Bogaerts ends up stranded at third.

Just an inning later, one out and the 9-1-2 hitters do their job by loading the bases for the middle part of the lineup. Anything to show for it? Nope, because Mitch Moreland and Xander Bogaerts both struck out to end the top half of the third.

Fast forward to the sixth, Moreland led off what looked to be a promising frame by mashing his team-leading 13th homer of the season off of Stroman, a 352 foot shot to the opposite field to make it a 6-1 game.

Back-to-back walks drawn by Rafael Devers and Chavis in the same inning gave the Sox another chance to trim their deficit, but a 6-4-3 twin killing off the bat of Christian Vazquez put an end to that potential rally.

In the seventh, Stroman was chased due to Jackie Bradley Jr. and Steve Pearce reaching base to leadoff the inning.

One pitching change that saw left-hander Tim Mayza take over and one walk drawn by Andrew Benintendi later, the bases were full for the part of the Boston lineup you want the bases full for.

But, again, nothing to show with Mookie Betts and Moreland going down by way of the K and Bogaerts grounding out to short to end the seventh.

And in the eighth, a pair of solo homers from Devers and Bradley Jr. off Joe Biagini and Sam Gaviglio made it a 10-3 contest in favor of Toronto, which would go on to be Tuesday’s final score.

For Devers, his fifth big fly of the season and second in as many days to secure another mult-hit game.

Bradley Jr., meanwhile, has also homered in two straight. That much is encouraging to see.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position on Tuesday while also leaving 10 on base. Not great.

Tyler Thornburg has allowed runs in nine of his 16 appearances so far this season. His ERA currently stands at 7.71.

Over his last two starts, opposing hitters are slashing .333/.392/.600 off of Eduardo Rodriguez.

From Red Sox Notes:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the third game of this series Wednesday night.

Right-hander Rick Porcello, fresh off a solid seven innings and a forgettable eighth inning against the Houston Astros, is set to get the ball for Boston while fellow right-hander Aaron Sanchez will do the same for Toronto.

In his career at Rogers Centre, Porcello owns a lifetime 5.47 ERA over 13 games (12 starts) and 72.1 total innings pitched.

Sanchez, meanwhile, has posted a career 3.91 ERA in 20 games (12 starts) and 76 innings against the Red Sox. He is currently 3-4 with a 3.88 ERA and .250 batting average against through 10 starts this season.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 7:07 PM EDT on NESN. Time to start another winning streak.

 

RECAP: Five-Run Tenth Inning Rally in Toronto Leads #RedSox to 80th Win of Season.

Coming off a weekend in which they swept the New York Yankees in four games, the Red Sox headed north of the border to Toronto on the first leg of a three-city, nine game road trip looking to become the first team in the majors to reach 80 wins, which is exactly what happened on Tuesday.

Drew Pomeranz made his third start since returning from the 10-day disabled list on July 24th, and despite what the numbers say, was far from proficient in this one.

Pitching into the fifth inning, the lefty surrendered two earned runs on four hits, yet walked FIVE and only struck out one.

Those two runs came on swing of the bat from Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis, a one out, two-run home run in the third inning that put Toronto on the board first.

That may have been the only real damage Pomeranz sustained on the night, but it truly goes deeper than that.

The pitch count, velocity, and what appears to be a lack of motivation or confidence while on the mound all seem to be prevalent in Pomeranz’s case. Bottom line: it does not look like he wants to be there and he rarely ever gives his team a chance to win.

In total, the Tennessee native found himself behind in EIGHT three-ball counts, including the five free passes, which came at a pace of one per inning ending in the fifth.

All and all, it’s difficult to say Pomeranz did not give the Red Sox a chance to win this game, because he left with them trailing by just one run, but how he performed last night was far from encouraging.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 84 (44 strikes), the 29 year-old hurler induced three total swings and misses. That is far from ideal, especially when you’re topping out at 91.8 MPH with your four-seam fastball in a game against big league hitters. Makes for an ugly outing, and Pomeranz may as well consider himself lucky for only giving up two runs.

With Chris Sale set to return from the disabled list this weekend in Baltimore, it will be interesting to see what becomes of the Red Sox rotation. Sale, Porcello, Price, and Eovaldi are all obvious locks. Then it comes down to two lefties: Brian Johnson, who starts on Wednesday, or Pomeranz? Who would you rather have as the fifth starter? My money is on BJ.

In relief of Pomeranz, the Red Sox bullpen certainly had themselves a night to forget starting in the middle of the seventh.

Heath Hembree rebounded from a rough appearance on Sunday night by retiring the only batter he faced in the fifth to make way for Brandon Workman in the sixth.

Despite loading the bases on the first three batters he faced, Workman escaped the frame scot-free with the help of some clutch defensive play from Sandy Leon to keep the Red Sox within one run.

From that point on, a combination of Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes, Craig Kimbrel, and Tyler Thornburg surrendered five runs over the final four innings of last night’s contest.

Kelly’s run put Toronto up 3-1, Barnes’ run cut the Red Sox lead to 5-4, Kimbrel’s run, a Justin Smoak solo home run, resulted in a blown save and a 5-5 game heading into the tenth, and Thornburg’s two runs broke up the reliever’s streak of six straight scoreless appearances.

Fortunately, the ex-Brewer held things together, recorded the third and final out of the tenth, and locked down his team’s 80th win of the season with the 10-7 victory. Oddly enough, Craig Kimbrel was credited with the winning decision.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Toronto’s “ace” in right-hander Marcus Stroman.

Although he has not pitched much like an ace for the majority of this season, Stroman had his way with Boston on Tuesday.

Tossing seven innings of one run ball, with that lone run coming on a JD Martinez RBI single in the fourth, the thing that really killed the Red Sox while Stroman was on the mound had to be ground ball outs.

The Duke product induced 14 of them on the night, which also resulted in two double plays early on.

With his pitch count at 92, it looked like Stroman was ready for another frame of work in the eighth, but a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand forced his night to come to a close, and that’s where this game turned around in the right direction for Boston.

Blue Jays reliever Ryan Tepera took over for Stroman in the eighth with a two run lead to protect.

After Bruck Holt struck out to lead off the inning, a Sandy Leon double, Mookie Betts walk, and Andrew Benintendi single loaded the bases with Mitch Moreland due up.

On the second pitch he saw from Tepera, grounded a ball sharply to second base for the force out there, but Leon managed to score without a throw home to make it a 3-2 game with two outs for JD Martinez.

In a 2-0 hitter’s count with Betts at third and Moreland at first, Martinez launched a 95 MPH fastball over the wall in the left field corner for his league-leading 34th big fly and 97th RBI of the year. 5-3 game.

Unfortunately for the Red Sox, that clutch home run would not amount to much a few minutes later when the Blue Jays stormed back to send this thing into extras tied at five runs a piece.

Starting the tenth with the 9-1-2 hitters due up and former Astros closer Ken Giles on the hill for the Blue Jays, Mookie Betts got a five-run rally started with a one out triple.

Two batters and one Andrew Benintendi walk later, Mitch Moreland came through with his 14th homer of the season, another three-run bomb sent 381 feet into the seats in right field to give the Red Sox a 8-5 lead.

After JD Martinez grounded out to short for the second out and Xander Bogaerts reached first on a single up the middle, Jackie Bradley Jr. really put this game out of reach with his ninth long ball of 2018 to put his team up 10-5, which, despite a last-ditch two run rally from the Jays in their half of the tenth, is all they would need to secure this series opening win.

Some notes from this win:

Over his last five appearances, Craig Kimbrel has allowed five runs to score in 5.1 innings pitched. According to @RedSoxStats: Kimbrel’s 3.32 FIP (fielding independent pitching) ranks 64th/157 qualified relievers this year.

From @SoxNotes: The Red Sox are 80-34 (.702), their most wins ever through 114 games.

This is the first time since 2007 the Red Sox are MLB’s first team to reach 80 wins.

Since going 13-13 from April 21-May 18, the Sox are 50-19 (.725).

Boston is 24-5 (.828) in its last 29 games.

As is mentioned above, the Red Sox are 80-34 and the first team in baseball to reach that mark this season. Both statements are insane.

With a potential series win at hand later tonight, it will be a pitching matchup featuring Brian Johnson for Boston and rookie Mike Hauschild for Toronto.

Johnson is coming off an outing in which he got roughed up for five runs in five innings against the Yankees this past Thursday and owns a lifetime 7.47 ERA in five career appearances against the Blue Jays.

Hauschild, 28 and a right-hander, will be making his first career start in the majors after five career relief appearances between Houston and Toronto the past two seasons. As you may have guessed, he has never faced the Red Sox in his short stint in the big leagues.

Rafael Devers is expected to be activated from the 10-day disabled list today while infielder Tony Renda, who scored the game-winning run against the Yankees on Monday morning, will be optioned back down to Pawtucket.

Chris Sale, Ian Kinsler, and Blake Swihart are also expected to be activated from the DL in the coming days.

First pitch of the second game of the series in Toronto is scheduled for 7:07 PM ET Tuesday.

 

 

RECAP: Xander Bogaerts Homers Again as #RedSox Close out First Half with 68th Win of Season.

On the last day before hitting the All-Star break, the Red Sox were looking to end the first half of their season on a positive note by taking three out of four games from the Toronto Blue Jays.

Making his first start for the team since July 3rd, Brian Johnson returned from the disabled list in effective fashion on Sunday afternoon.

In just over four innings pitched, the lefty surrendered two runs on two hits and four walks while tying a season-high in strikeouts with five on the day.

Four walks in that short of an outing usually is not a good sign for a pitcher, but Johnson found himself working his away around them to avoid anything too detrimental.

In fact, the only real costly mistake the Florida native made came in the third inning, when with one out and a runner at second, Johnson left a 0-1, 76 MPH curveball on the inner half of the plate, and Jays outfielder Teoscar Hernandez made him pay for it, as he sent it 349 feet into the Monster seats for a two-run shot, tying the game at two runs a piece.

Following that home run though, Johnson proceeded to retire seven of the final eight batters he faced, and with two outs in the top half of the fifth and Hernandez due up for Toronto, got the hook in favor of Brandon Workman.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 84 (52 strikes), the 27 year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball just over 51% of the time on Sunday, and topped out at 92 MPH with it in the first inning.

Since rejoining the Red Sox rotation on June 28th against the Angels, Johnson has yet to go deeper than five innings in three outings, yet the Red Sox are unbeaten in all three of those starts.

In relief of Johnson, as I had previously mentioned, Brandon Workman got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen. Needing one out to close out the top half of the fifth, Workman struck out the only batter he faced, Hernandez, on seven pitches.

From that point on, despite a more than welcome amount of traffic on the base paths, Tyler Thornburg, Ryan Brasier, and Heath Hembree all tossed a scoreless inning of relief each, setting up Craig Kimbrel for the save opportunity with a three-run lead to work with in the ninth.

Making his last appearance out of the Red Sox bullpen before heading to Washington DC for his seventh All-Star Game, Kimbrel notched his 30th save of the season by pitching a 1-2-3 ninth inning, including two straight punch outs to close this thing out and secure his teams 68th win of the year.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar foe in Blue Jays righty Marcus Stroman.

Never trailing in this game, Xander Bogaerts stayed red-hot and started off the scoring with his 16th home run of the season, a solo shot sent 423 feet over the Monster, to put the Red Sox on the board first.

Four batters later, after JD Martinez drew a seven pitch walk and Mitch Moreland reached first on a fielding error, Brock Holt came through with his first of two RBI knocks on the day, as he scored Martinez from third on a hard-hit bloop single to center field, putting the Red Sox up 2-0 early.

After Toronto came back to tie things back up again in the third, a Sandy Leon leadoff double in the fifth got a mini rally started for the Red Sox.

Following that up with a double of his own of off Stroman, Jackie Bradley Jr. drove in the go-ahead run while also collecting his 31st RBI of the season and giving his team a one run lead they would not have to look back from.

That was followed by a Mookie Betts flyout that allowed Bradley to tag up and advance to third, setting up another prime scoring chance.

Looking for his second RBI of the day, Xander Bogaerts managed to drive in Bradley from third by hitting a comebacker that got a piece of Stroman’s knee. The Blue Jays were able to recover and get the out at first, but the Red Sox had a two-run cushion to work with now.

In the sixth, Brock Holt wrapped up the scoring for the Red Sox with another RBI single, this one just out of the reach of Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis, as Mitch Moreland came in to score from second to put Boston up 5-2.

Some notes from this win:

From @SoxNotes: The Red Sox are 4.5 games ahead of the Yankees, their largest lead of the season.

The Sox have won 12 of their last 13 games and are 17-3 in their last 20.

This is the first time since 2007 that Boston enters the All-Star break with MLB’s best record (68-30, .694).

In the month of July, Xander Bogaerts owns an OPS of 1.154.

Over his last six games, Jackie Bradley Jr. is hitting .333 with five extra-base hits and five RBI.

With the next four days off, the Red Sox will resume their season schedule next Friday, as they open up a six game road trip starting in Detroit.

Starting pitchers for that series have yet to be officially announced by the team yet, but for the Tigers, it will be Matthew Boyd, Mike Fiers, and Michael Fulmer getting the start for the upcoming weekend series.

Before then, let’s just enjoy watching our five All-Stars in the nation’s capital on Tuesday.