Game 96: Toronto Blue Jays at Red Sox (July 13, 2018)

It had to end eventually, didn't it? I just didn't think it would be at the hands of Rick Porcello. David Price? Sure. Whoever is filling the fifth rotation spot? Absolutely. But Porcello? I can only chalk this one up to his being due for a bad start after his predominantly stellar season thus far. I sat down on the couch with my oldest daughter after dinner to watch the game and we ended up watching a rollercoaster of excitement until it got away from the Sox at the end.

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The Sox scored first when Mookie Betts scored from third on a throwing error on a ball hit by JD Martinez. Mookie had led off the game with a triple so it was a quick strike to put the Sox up 1-0. Seeing as how the Blue Jays had a recent call-up pitching and that the Red Sox had only lost four of the games this season when they scored first, it seemed a foregone conclusion that it would soon be eleven straight wins. Baseball is a funny game, though, and the Blue Jays must have missed the memo. Kevin Pillar doubled to bring in a run in the very next inning to tie the game. A sacrifice fly and a single by the next two batters put Toronto up 3-1. Porcello hadn't looked sharp all game and his pitches just didn't have the movement they usually do. Walks were also hurting him...this is a guy who averages a little less than three walks per game but had already reached that amount in the first couple of innings. The Sox came storming back in the bottom of the inning starting with Jackie Bradley's RBI single. Mookie was up next and missed a home run by about six inches, settling for his second triple of the game while driving in two to put Boston back in front 4-3. Brock Holt drove Mookie in, stole second, and advanced to third on an overthrow. That was a huge sequence as Xander Bogaerts singled to drive him in and make it 6-3. At that point, I was sure the Sox had this game in the bag. We scored one in the first, Toronto got three in the second, we scored over, right? To their credit, the Jays didn't pack it in and kept fighting. The third inning ended up being the one that did the Sox in as Toronto scored five of their own. Pillar continued to hurt the Sox with a two-RBI double after Justin Smoak's solo homer. At this point Porcello should've been pulled but for whatever reason Alex Cora left him in the game. Toronto made him pay when Dwight Smith smacked a two run homer to make it 8-6 Jays. Mitch Moreland drove JD in with a single in the top of the fourth and it looked like it was going to be one of those back-and-forth games but both teams quieted down for a while after that. Toronto made sure the game was out of reach starting in the eighth when they scored three runs; they followed it up in the ninth with two more on another Smoak home run. Joe Kelly and Robby Scott were the bullpen culprits in those last two innings and this ended up being a game to forget as the Sox went down 13-7. Streak over.

Porcello had a brutal night, giving up eight runs on seven hits in only two innings of work. He struck out two but walked four which is highly unlike him. The bright spots for Red Sox pitching were the innings put in by Hector Velazquez, Ryan Brasier, and Tyler Thornburg. This was Thornburg's first Red Sox appearance where he looked like the guy we've been expecting since we traded for him two years ago. At the plate, Mookie continued to be otherworldly going 3-4 with two triples and a single, a walk, two RBI, and two runs scored. His average is now up to .357 and there's no way anyone can say he isn't right there with Mike Trout in the conversation for AL MVP. Everyone Sox batter had a hit in this game except for Sandy Leon but it doesn't matter how many runs you score if your pitching can't keep the other team from scoring more. At least there was no damage done in the standings as the Indians beat the Yankees last night; our lead remained at 3.5 games. I'm looking for a bounce back today with Eduardo Rodriguez on the mound. A couple of wins (or at least a series win) heading into the All Star break would be some nice momentum to have.