Series Sum-Up: Red Sox vs. Blue Jays

 Joe Biagini was the losing pitcher in the third game of the Toronto Blue Jays' weekend series against the Boston Red Sox. Photo Credit: Jay Blue

Joe Biagini was the losing pitcher in the third game of the Toronto Blue Jays' weekend series against the Boston Red Sox. Photo Credit: Jay Blue

By Emily @JaysGirlEmily

Blue Jays from Away

Game 1: Friday, May 11
JAYS WIN!!! 5-3 (12 innings, walkoff)
Starting Pitcher: Aaron Sanchez
Winning Pitcher: Sam Gaviglio

Both teams scored runs with their first batters of the ballgame. Aaron Sanchez walked Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi singled, and Betts scored when J.D. Martinez grounded out. Teoscar Hernandez tied the game leading off the bottom of the first, when he doubled on Chris Sale’s first pitch, and scored on a Josh Donaldson single. Kendrys Morales snapped an 0-for-28 streak with a double to right field leading off the second. He scored when Luke Maile singled. From then until the seventh, Sale shut down 15 in a row, including six consecutive swinging strikeouts.

With two on in the third, and Hanley Ramirez at first after taking a walk, Martinez doubled. The ball bounced off the right-field wall, but Kevin Pillar backed it up perfectly, firing to Gurriel, who threw it home and Ramirez ran right into Maile’s waiting glove. The Red Sox reviewed the play (to determine if Maile blocked the plate) but the call on the field was upheld and the inning was over.

In the fourth, Xander Bogaerts led off with a home run to tie the game, then Moreland singled. After two attempts at a double play (one where the ball stuck in Solarte’s glove), Maile dropped a third strike and Sandy Leon reached as Maile threw the ball over the first baseman’s head and into right field, and a run scored. Sanchez was done after the fifth, having allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits and three walks. Maile tied the game with a solo homer in the seventh. The Blue Jays bullpen held the Red Sox hitless through the ninth. Pillar was thrown out trying to stretch a triple in the ninth.

Sale didn’t walk anyone in his nine-inning start, and then the first two batters walked against the first Boston reliever, Matt Barnes. Dalton Pompey (Mississauga, Ont.) pinch-hit and struck out bunting the third strike foul. Sam Gaviglio, just called up, pitched all three extra innings with just one hit and a hit batter. Then Curtis Granderson walked in the 12th, and Maile sent the first pitch from Brian Johnson over the centre-field wall for a walkoff home run.

Game 2: Saturday, May 12

Jays lose, 2-5

Losing Pitcher: Marco Estrada

David Price, recently diagnosed with carpal tunnel, didn’t look like there was anything wrong in a 5 1/3 inning, two-run start against his former team. Marco Estrada gave up back-to-back doubles and a two-run Hanley Ramirez homer in the third to give Boston a 3-0 lead. A walk followed the home run, but Estrada then set down nine batters in a row, including three strikeouts.

Toronto got two aboard in the third with one out, but Josh Donaldson lined into a double play at short to end the inning. Their first run came in the fourth when Kevin Pillar reached on a force out, advanced on a walk, and Anthony Alford scored him with a single. It was the first RBI of Alford's career. Price stranded Alford, and Montreal native Russell Martin (who had walked). Teoscar Hernandez doubled with one out in the next inning, but didn’t score. Estrada’s day was over after the sixth when he gave up another run on two hits. His final line was six innings pitched with four earned runs on seven hits, one walk and five strikeouts.

Justin Smoak led off the sixth with a home run, and Price left the game after getting Pillar to fly out in foul territory. Alford then reached when Rafael Devers fielded a grounder and threw the ball into the seats. Luke Maile and Martin, playing third base, caught Christian Vazquez trying to steal third. It was a big out, considering Jake Petricka had started the seventh and faced two batters, both of whom singled. Richard Urena led off the seventh with a pinch-hit single, but Hernandez hit into a double play. Joe Kelly struck out the side in the bottom of the eighth, omitting a single to Pillar, who then stole a base. Ryan Tepera issued the only bullpen run of the night, on back-to-back hits in the ninth.

Game 3: Sunday, May 13
Jays lose, 3-5
Losing Pitcher: Joe Biagini

The Red Sox took an early lead, and the Jays’ bats couldn’t catch up in a game in which neither starter made it out of the fifth. Decked out in Mothers’ Day pink, Joe Biagini made his third spot-start of the season, and gave up four runs on four hits and three walks in 4 2/3 innings. He also struck out three. After getting into a 2-0 deficit on a J.D. Martinez home run in the first, the Jays stranded two in each of the first two innings.

The Red Sox added to their lead in the third when Biagini loaded the bases on two walks and a single, and then walked Mitch Moreland to force in a run. They made it 4-0 in the fifth, when Biagini left the game with two outs and a man (Mookie Betts) on second. Martinez then singled off John Axford (Port Dover, Ont.), scoring Betts. Up to that point, Drew Pomeranz had only allowed two hits and walked four, but the Jays started the bottom of the fifth with back-to-back singles, and Justin Smoak scored a pair with a double. Pomeranz then walked Yangervis Solarte, and was out of the game without getting any outs in the inning.

After Kevin Pillar struck out, Russell Martin singled, scoring Smoak. Kendrys Morales then hit into a double play to end the inning. Then, in the seventh, Solarte singled and was thrown out at the plate trying to score when Martin doubled. That ended the inning Had he scored, that would have been the tying run. Sam Gaviglio pitched a perfect seventh but started the eighth with a walk, a stolen base, and a single. Tyler Clippard was brought in to face Xander Bogaerts, who grounded out and drove in the run. Martin threw out Brock Holt stealing third in the ninth, which made a big difference considering the next batter singled. The Jays had out-hit the Sox 10-8, but Joe Kelly needed just four pitches to close out the game.

Overall Notes:

Before the start of this series, Marcus Stroman was placed on the 10-day disabled list with "right shoulder fatigue." His shoulder had also bothered him in Spring Training. That move necessitated Joe Biagini being brought up to take Stroman’s spot in the rotation on Sunday. Since the move was backdated, Stroman could potentially make his next start if his shoulder improves.

Sam Gaviglio was called up before Friday’s game and Tim Mayza was optioned. The Jays also activated Gio Urshela on Saturday, optioning Dalton Pompey (Mississauga, Ont.) in his place, and designating Carlos Ramirez for assignment.

On Sunday, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was sent down to Buffalo and Deck McGuire had his contract selected. McGuire was the Jays’ first-round draft pick in 2010, and made his debut last September with Cincinnati. He pitched in six games, two of which were starts, totalling 13 2/3 innings. He had a 1-1 record and a 2.63 ERA. The Jays re-acquired him over the winter, signing him to a major-league contract.

Anthony Alford was optioned following Sunday’s game and Dwight Smith Jr. was recalled to replace him.

The Blue Jays have won just two of their six games so far against the Red Sox. Both their wins came in extra innings, and both on walkoff homers (the first was courtesy of Curtis Granderson on April 24th). However, the Jays have only lost one game against the Red Sox by three or more runs – indicating the two teams might be more evenly matched than their head-to-head record would suggest.

My favourite player(s) this series: Maile/Gaviglio

Luke Maile may have earned a Golden Sombrero (four strikeouts in four at-bats) on Saturday, but his heroics the night before still earned him a spot on this list. In the first multi-homer game of his career, he both tied the game and was responsible for the Jays winning it. He went 3-for-4 with four RBI, a walk, and two home runs, including the walkoff. It was his second walkoff hit this season. Maile also threw out a baserunner on Saturday, snapping a long streak of successful Red Sox stolen bases against the Blue Jays. His .317 average and .902 OPS lead the team among those with more than 60 at-bats. He also has a .450/.542/.550 slash line with runners in scoring position.

The bullpen in general was a strength in this series (14 1/3 innings pitched and only two runs allowed), but a long appearance by Sam Gaviglio was a key in securing their lone win. He went three innings on Friday, in his first appearance of the season, giving up just one hit and striking out three. He also hit a batter. He even had a perfect inning in Sunday’s game before running into some trouble, as a hit and a walk prompted John Gibbons to lift him from the game.

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Emily

Emily is a Communications student who grew up with a Roy Halladay poster on the back of her door. A baseball history nerd, she played softball for nine years and changes her favourite Blue Jay on a regular basis. She fondly remembers going to her first Jays game at age six with her father, and spending the whole time staring at the elevators going up the CN Tower.