Was Joe Kelly as wild as Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh?
Or were Blue Jays hitters as selective as the New York Yankees in their Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada Core Four-Ball Four days?
Whatever the answer, we saw once again how walks can hurt, harm and be detrimental to both your earned run average and your won-loss record Saturday afternoon.
Not to mention bruising an ego, cause distress for your manager, grief for your fan base and torment your pitching coach … assuming you have a pitching coach.
Kelly walked seven in 5 2/3 innings at the Rogers Centre. With the Jays attack mustering three hits in the first four innings it was enough to get off to a 5-0 lead after four innings.
When Dustin Pedroia singled in the fifth to knock in a run and David Ortizsingled Boston trailed 5-1, despite out hitting the Jays 7-3.
Toronto starter Drew Hutchison survived yet another frantic fifth leaving the bases loaded as the Jays scored a 7-1 win, their fourth in their last five, before 42,917. The Jays have outscored Boston 14-1 in the first two games of the series with the finale set for Sunday afternoon before the Jays head to Baltimore and Houston on a six-game trip.
The win lifts the Jays over the .500 mark for the first time since they were 9-8 on April 24.
Three of Kelly’s walks scored causing pain and hardship for the Red Sox, the final two on Edwin Encarnacion’s three-run homer in the fourth.
Devon Travis and Jose Bautista had pulled off a successful double steal on the 0-2 pitch to Encarnacion and Kelly’s next pitch landed in the second deck.
With first base open and after walking in his first two at-bats, Encarnacion wasn’t looking fastball.
“He threw a breaking ball, I was ready,” said Encarnacion after his fifth homer and fifth chicken-wing waltz around the bases. “I saw with my eyes he threw me breaking balls the first two at-bats.”
Manager John Gibbons called Encarnacion’s swing a “when it comes together a pretty thing.” It was his first homer in 16 games. After being on the Inter-state, the first baseman is 13-for-his-last-39 (.333) at-bats and now had seven doubles, eight homers and 26 RBIs in his last 25 games against Boston.
Identical as twins
Kelly had back-to-back ugly innings to start: one run allowed on three walks, aJosh Donaldson single, a throwing error committed by Kelly and 13 strikes (out of 31 pitches) in the first.
And in the second: one run on two walks, a Donaldson single, another Kelly error and he threw 13 strikes (34 pitches).
Kelly walked Chris Colabello, and Encarnacion in the second. After his big-time arm got in the way of him having a clean inning, Kelly himself got in the way when Travis grounded to first baseman Mike Napoli. Kelly went to cover but was bumped in the base path by Travis.
The Jays rookie was awarded first on obstruction by plate ump Gary Cedarstrom. Donaldson then singled home Colabello.
With one out in the first Kelly walked Bautista, Encarnacion and Kevin Pillar(five strikes in a 17-pitch string). Before Pillar came to the plate Russell Martinhit a fly ball to right, scoring Donaldson, who had singled.
“He was 93 MPH to Devon leading off, then ramped it up 97-98,” said Donaldson, who had three hits.
For Donaldson it was his third three-hit game of the season lifting his average to .320.
15th out the toughest?
Hutchison’s hump has been the fifth inning. Four times he’s failed to escape the inning, lifted after 4 1/3 innings when up 8-7, hooked after 4 2/3 when the score was deadlocked, lifted after four when he was up 9-5 and after 4 1/3 with the Jays leading 6-4. The Jays won two and lost two of those early exits.
He worked five Saturday and is now 3-0 — the Jays winning five of his seven starts. Gibbons visited the mound as Boston base runner began clogging the bases like the QEW in rush hour and told him it was his game.
With a run in, the bases loaded after three hits and a walk, and the tying run at the plate he popped up Napoli for the 15th and final out he recorded.
“I’ve been fortunate with the run support I’ve had, I’m not looking back,” Hutchison said, of the wins that got away. “You have to move on, when I’m 0-2, 1-2 I have to make a pitch.”
Hutchison threw 106 pitches (71 strikes) and now has a 6.69 ERA, highest among the starters but he’s off the runway … he entered the game with a 7.47 ERA.
Red Sox manager John Farrell, also doubling as the Boston pitching coach since Juan Nieves was fired, had to come out to protect second baseman Dustin Pedroia after a third-inning strikeout to debate worldly matters with plate ump Gary Cedarstrom.
Pedroia had two called strikes to begin the at-bat, then fouled off two pitches and struck out swinging on the 2-2 pitch.
Liam Hendricks worked three scoreless facing only 10 hitters allowing a Sandoval single and fanning three … Roberto Osuna worked a 1-2-3 ninth.