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If any game was going to stop the Red Sox winning streak, I had predicted it'd be this one. It was a new series against a Toronto team that always plays them tough and we had David Price on the mound. Even irrespective of his two shaky starts prior to this game, there's just something about the guy that doesn't inspire confidence at all. After taking my oldest daughter to her practice, she and I were both excited to watch the game and see if the Sox could keep their streak going when we got home.
When Price gave up a two run homer in the first inning to Teoscar Hernandez, it seemed as though my concerns were fully realized. He'd collapsed against the Yankees, pitched poorly against the doormat Royals, and was now going to get roughed up by the Blue Jays. Right? Well, in a way he hasn't really done in his Boston tenure, Price buckled down and ended up quieting the Jays down for most of the night. His final line was 6.2 innings pitched with eight strikeouts and no walks. On its own that's a great line although he did give up three runs on six hits (two of the home runs) and his ERA is a mediocre 4.42. Still, it ended up being good enough for him to earn his tenth win of the season. But it was how the Sox got there that ended up being the most thrilling part of this game. The Sox got a run back in the bottom of the fourth when Sandy Leon drove Xander Bogaerts in on a fielder's choice. The epic event of the night was later in the inning: with the bases loaded, Mookie Betts battled and battled through a thirteen pitch at bat before launching a ball over the Green Monster for a grand slam. He knew it right away, too, as he was pumped the second he left the batter's box. It was absolutely electric to witness on my TV...I can only imagine how incredible that must've been in person at Fenway Park. I've been in that ballpark for quite a few moments like that myself and I can tell you, there's nothing like it. With that single swing of the bat, Mookie brought the Sox back and put them ahead 5-2. The Jays wouldn't go away quietly, though. Kendrys Morales hit the Jays' second homer off of Price in this game, a solo shot in the seventh. But who came to the rescue again in the bottom of the inning? If you said Mookie, you're right. He drove Jackie Bradley in with an RBI single to make it 6-3 Boston. It got a little dicey in the eighth when Matt Barnes allowed a single followed by a double that scored a run for Toronto. The play itself was a bit strange as a fan reached far over the fence to catch a ball that Jackie Bradley would have been able to make a play on. The umpires allowed the runner to score from first and gave Justin Smoak (the hitter) a double while the fan was tossed. With one out, a runner in scoring position, and the tying run at the plate Matt Barnes came up with two huge strikeouts to get out of the jam and preserve the two run lead. That was all Craig Kimbrel needed as he came in to pick up save number 29 and close out the game.
Getting back to the offense, this game was all about the incredible Mookie Betts. He went 2-4 with five RBI and pushed his average up to .352. Jackie Bradley had a 2-2 night himself and is now hitting .208. Overall, the offense had a decent night although they did get outhit by the Jays 11-8. Still, it's not the number of hits but how many runs you drive in with them. It only took Mookie two hits to drive in five, after all. The one bit of bad news in this game was that Steve Pearce left early after taking a fastball to the shins. That pushed Blake Swihart into subbing at first base and he did a good job, especially at the plate. He went 1-3 and has his average over .200 now. We'll be seeing a lot more of him with Vazquez out and especially now if Pearce is out for any significant amount of time.
With this tenth straight win the Sox pushed their record to an incredible 66-29. You may remember a week or two ago that I mentioned how it'd be nice to see the Sox sweep through this final week of games heading into the break. You may also remember how I said it probably wouldn't happen. I'm happy to say that they just might prove me wrong at this point. Toward the end of this game my daughter and I checked the score of the Yankees game and saw they were tied with Cleveland. We were hoping the Indians would help us out, but unfortunately the Yankees came back to win so the Sox lead in the AL East remained at 3.5 games. Still, this is one of the most thrilling and exciting Red Sox teams I can remember in a long time. The fact that they're winning games in different fashions and having fun doing it makes it even more interesting and exciting to watch as a fan. I don't want to get ahead of myself, but with Rick Porcello starting in the next game, do I dare look forward to eleven straight? We shall see...