Monday, April 18, 2016

Late rally helps Blue Jays earn split with Sox

 J.A. Happ allowed just one run in seven-plus innings and the Blue Jays rallied with four runs in the eighth before holding on for a 4-3 victory over the Red Sox on Patriots' Day at Fenway Park.
After going down, 1-0, in the second inning, the Blue Jays outlasted Sox starter Clay Buchholz, who forced them into four double plays while hanging zeros through the first 6 2/3 innings.
Toronto batted around in the eighth inning to score all of its runs, capped by a Russell Martin two-out, two-run single off Craig KimbrelKoji Uehara preceded Kimbrel and struggled to locate his pitches, walking a pair following a leadoff infield single from Kevin Pillar that turned into two bases because of a Josh Rutledge throwing error. The wheels came off for the Boston bullpen from there.
"It's a big situation right there against a tough pitcher," Martin said of the at-bat against Kimbrel. "I was fortunate to kind of get ahead in the count, and then he's got an electric fastball, so really I just trying to put the barrel on the ball. Took some good swings. He kept pounding the strike zone. I think the biggest pitch of the at-bat was probably that he threw a fastball in, [which] was probably a ball and I was able to foul that pitch off. After I fouled that one off, I'm like, 'OK, if I can handle that one, I feel pretty good right now.'"
The Red Sox tried to rally in the ninth, scoring a pair of runs off Blue Jays reliever Drew Storen and bringing pinch-hitter David Ortiz to the plate with the tying run on base. But Ortiz struck out looking to end the game.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Breakthrough: Although they outhit the Red Sox through most of the game, the Blue Jays were scoreless until they tied it in the eighth inning. Facing erstwhile closer Uehara, Pillar singled and took second on third baseman Rutledge's throwing error. After a walk to Justin Smoak, both runners moved up on on a passed ball by Christian Vazquez before Pillar scored on Michael Saunders' groundout. Toronto added three more in the inning to open things up.
Leap of faith: In the face of the Red Sox's defense completing four double plays on the day, it was Jackie Bradley Jr. who came up with the defensive gem of the game. Boston's center fielder got a nice jump on a flare hit to left-center by Troy Tulowitzki, and with left fielderChris Young and shortstop Xander Bogaerts converging, Bradley laid out to snag the sinking ball just before it hit the outfield grass for the second out of the seventh.
"I thought I got a good jump on it and I was able to make the call at the last second to try and make an attempt," Bradley said. More >
Happ holds down the fort: Happ had a stellar showing as he waited for his offense to kick in. He went seven innings (plus one batter in the eighth), allowing one run on four hits with a walk and four strikeouts to pick up the win.
"I feel good about it," Happ said of his outing. "I feel like I wasn't super sharp as far as getting first-pitch strikes, but got some big double-play balls for some great defense. And a huge eighth inning for us. The bullpen did a great job shutting it out. A big win for us today to split the series after going down in the first two."
Forgot about Clay: After a rocky couple of starts to open the season, Buchholz put his best foot forward on Patriots' Day. He induced a career-high four double plays on the day, the most by a Red Sox pitcher since Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2008. Of the eight Blue Jays players who reached base against him, only one advanced to second by way of a passed ball. It was Buchholz's longest outing since July 4 of last year, when he earned a complete-game victory over Houston.
"I felt really good with just about everything. My curveball came a little bit later, but the fastball, changeup, cutter mix really worked well," Buchholz said. "That's the best I've felt."
QUOTABLE
"We've got roles established. The seventh, eighth and ninth have been efficient, they've been successful. This is, I think, a little bit of a blip with Koji today." -- Farrell, on his bullpen
WHAT'S NEXT
Blue Jays: Toronto opens a three-game set at Baltimore on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Right-hander Marcus Stroman (2-0, 4.22 ERA) gets the start. In three career games (two starts), he is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA against the Orioles.

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