Bullpen Key in Sox 6–4 Victory Over Hot Jays

Toronto Blue Jays 4, Boston Red Sox 6

WP: Steven Wright (6–4)

LP: Marcus Stroman (5–2)

SV: Craig Kimbrel (13)

Although Steven Wright only pitched five innings and threw 111 pitches, he earned his sixth victory of the season Saturday evening in Fenway. Wright only allowed three hits (all singles) but walked five in his shaky outing. He gave up three unearned runs and decreased his ERA to a team-best 2.29.

Wright had trouble commanding his knuckleball and issued a career-high five walks because of it. Walking a batter in every inning except the fourth, Wright was in trouble most of the day.

Catcher Ryan Hanigan allowed three passed balls — one of which resulted in two runs scoring for the Blue Jays. With two outs in the top of the fourth and runners on second and third, Wright struck out Toronto’s Michael Saunders on a nasty knuckleball tailing inside on the powerful lefty. The ball nicked off Hanigan’s glove and trickled toward the backstop. Ryan Goins on third base alertly started for home and scored with ease as Hanigan’s throw to first was not in time. Jose Bautista, who started on second base, noticed that with Hanigan’s absence, home plate was vacant. He rounded third with no hesitation and scored the Blue Jays’ third run of the game.

Hanigan has allowed an MLB leading sixteen passed balls thanks to Wright’s unpredictable knuckleball. Red Sox fans will almost always bring up Boston legend Doug Mirabelli in situations like this. Marabelli handled the knuckleball as well as anyone and never allowed more than fifteen passed balls in a season. One thing is clear — Hanigan must get better at catching the pitch if the Red Sox plan on limiting easy bases.

After Wright’s early exit Matt Barnes entered the game for Boston. After walking Devon Travis who later came into score, Barnes did not allow another Blue Jay to reach first base. He struck out two in two innings pitched.

Next it was Junichi Tazawa’s turn. Tazawa, who hadn’t allowed a run in all thirteen home appearances this year, added to that impressive feat when he threw nine of fifteen strikes and retired the Jays 3–4–5 hitters in 1–2–3 fashion.

Finally, flame-throwing Craig Kimbrel got the nod. After allowing a leadoff base hit to Russell Martin, the 28 year old got the speedy Kevin Pillar to ground into a 5–4–3 double play. He then retired Darwin Barney to pick up his thirteenth save of the season.

The Sox offense continued its spectacular season on Saturday night. With seven of the eleven Boston hits coming from the top four hitters in the lineup, the Sox offense put up a six spot on the 5–1 (now 5–2) Marcus Stroman. Although Xander Bogaerts’ hit streak ended at twenty-six games last night, he rifled three hits tonight and scored twice to help his team get the victory.

David Ortiz and Mookie Betts each had a two RBI night to increase their impressive totals (Oritz 53, Betts 45). Ortiz leads the MLB in runs batted in while Mookie sits third on the list.

The key moment in the game came in the sixth when Betts ripped a double down the third baseline. Blake Swihart attempted to score from first base and was originally called out. The Red Sox challenged the play and the original ruling was overturned.

In the next inning Swihart made a dazzlingly play in left field — hustling over to foul ground and sacrificing his body in order to make an impressive catch. Unfortunately for Swihart his foot got caught on the wall in a dorsiflex position (toe pointing upwards) and he limbed off the field with help from John Farrell and Red Sox trainer Masai Takahashi. To make things worse, the play was reviewed and it was determined the ball brushed the wall before it landed in Swihart’s glove. His effort did not go unnoticed.

Hanigan also left tonight’s game with a strained neck. Farrell said he would have more information tomorrow on both Swihart’s and Hanigan’s injury. To prepare for the worst, OF Rusney Castillo and C Sandy Leon were both pulled early from tonight’s AAA Pawtucket Red Sox game.

With an Orioles 8–6 loss in Baltimore tonight, Boston has reclaimed the top spot in the AL East standings.

Tomorrow’s rubber match will feature Toronto’s Marco Estrada (3–2) facing Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez (1–0). The Red Sox will look to increase their AL East then.

Fun Fact of the Day:

The MLB hit streak leader has been a member of the Red Sox everyday this season since May 6th (Bradley Jr., Bogaerts, Pedroia/Ortiz).