Toronto hitters continued their assault on The Green Monster and Boston pitchers, homering five times and putting away the Red Sox 7-2.
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Steven Matz struck out 8 and only allowed 4 hits during his Saturday outing in Fenway Park Saturday afternoon. On a normal day, the fact it took him 111 pitches to accomplish that could be a cause for concern to Blue Jays fans. But a parade of longballs posted Matz to a 6 run lead and there never seemed to be a doubt about the game’s outcome.
The Blue Jays seemed to take measure of Red Sox starter Nick Pivetta (6-3) from the first batter of the game. Marcus Semien lined out to Rafael Devers. Bo Bichette singled sharply to center field. Vladimir Guerrero Jr.launched his 20th homer run of 2021 well over the Green Monster in left center field. Pivetta collected himself enough to strikeout Teoscar Hernandez and get Randal Grichuk to ground to third. But Pivetta walked off the Fenway mound down 2-0.
The second inning saw fielding misadventures nearly cost each team a run Christian Vazquez called off his pitcher on a Joe Panik pop fly to the mound and promptly had it pop out of his glove for an error. Cavan Biggio drilled a ball that one-hopped over the right field corner wall to put runners in scoring position with only 1 out Reese McGuire lifted a fly to Kike Hernandez in center, who one bounced his throw to the plate in time to nail Panik trying to score.
Steven Matz proved to be his own worst enemy in the bottom half of the inning. Devers singled to the base of the Monster, but was easily picked off by Matz. The Blue Jays lefty preceded to walk Hunter Renfroe on 5 pitches, then threw away what could have been a timely doubleplay on a tapper right back to him. Christian Arroyo, who watched his Friday night home run a tad too long, watched a called strike on the corner for the 2nd out. Bobby Dalbec fouled out to McGuire and the misadventure was over.
The next real damage occurred in the top of the fifth. Biggio smacked his second hard hit ball of the afternoon for his 4th home run of the season. McGuire worked the count to 3-2 and earned a base on balls. Semien stepped up next and sent a flat curveball over the wall in left to put Toronto up 5-0. Bo Bichette wasted no time making it back-to-back home runs; on a 2-0 count Bichette hunted Pivetta’s signature curve ball and put into the left center field stands and the Blue Jays up 6-0.
Brandon Brennan replaced Pivetta for the 6th and immediately loaded the by surrendering consecutive singles to Rowdy Tellez, Panik and Biggio. McGuire struck out while Semien bounced into a 5-4-3 rally killer. This set the table for the Red Sox to finally get themselves on the scoreboard. J.D. Martinez lined a single that Grichuk nearly made a diving catch on, but was forced at second by a nifty play by Panik at third. Renfroe was hit on his front foot and Vazquez ripped a single to left. With the 111 pitch shutout ended, Charlie Montoyo called in Anthony Castro to end the threat. Castro sent down Arroyo down on strikes for third time on the day and kept the score at 6-1.
Rafael Dolis‘ troubles with the Red Sox lineup (3 IP 7H 5R) continued in the 8th. J.D. Martinez walked and advanced on a wild pitch. Devers tripled the other way to score Martinez for the 2nd Boston run of the game. Devers got himself doubled off third to get Dolis off the hook with only 1 run.
Reese McGuire hit the Blue Jays’ 5th home run of the game after Biggio sent a Brandon Workman pitch to the deepest part of the ballpark in center to add an exclamation point to the Blue Jays win. In total Toronto had 10 hits, half of them round trippers. Jordan Romano came on in the 9th to seal the important AL East matchup.
WHAT THE ECK?
Red Sox analyst Dennis Eckersley is as brash as he was during his Hall of Fame Career. If you listen through his often cliched play calls, you will uncover some of the best insights on any team broadcasts. Eck picks and chooses the stats he finds most important for viewers. During the 5th inning home run barrage by the Blue Jays, Eckersley noted that hitters were only hitting .160 off Nick Pivetta’s signature curve ball. To emphasize how impressive the Toronto lineup was against the Red Sox starter, Eck added, “A lot of guys cannot hit Nick’s (Pivetta) curve, but these Blue Jays hitters have hit 3 of their homers off that pitch.”
While discussing the wisdom of pitching to Vladdy with runners in scoring position, Eck opined, “If I had any piece of advice for opposing managers and pitcher about Guerrero, I’d say do everything you can to have him challenge Barry Bonds‘ mark of 175 walks in a single season.”
But the gem of the game came during Rafael Dolis’ 8th inning appearance. “Rafael Dolis has absolutely the worst body language I have ever seen. He (Dolis) walks around like he doesn’t want to be out there. You’d think then he’d want to pitch quicker just so he could get off the mound quicker.”
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