David Price gave the Red Sox seven mostly dominant innings on Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park en route to a 4-2 victory over the Blue Jays.
The lefty ace (2-0, 4.50 ERA) threw 107 pitches while striking out nine and walking none. He scattered six hits and allowed two runs. It was the first time a Boston starter has gone seven innings in the first 10 games. Craig Kimbrel struck out Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Troy Tulowitzki in the ninth to notch his fourth save.
"I felt good with everything I was throwing," said Price. "I was just going out there being able to execute. That was the key today. That's the key every five days."
The Red Sox rallied in the third, with Xander Bogaerts belting a three-run homer to left. With two outs, Hanley Ramirez lofted a two-out double to the corner in right and Travis Shaw came through with an RBI single.
Marco Estrada took the loss for the Jays, allowing eight hits and four runs. Encarnacion, fresh off drilling two homers on Friday night, smoked an RBI double in the fourth to make it a 4-2 game.
Boston is 4-1 against the defending American League East-champion Jays this season.
"We're playing good baseball," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "We're getting solid starting pitching here the last couple nights in particular. As I mentioned coming out of Spring Training, this is a good team, a very good team, and I think we're growing closer together as we meet challenges along the way."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Bogaerts bops first homer: Batting third in Boston's batting order, the jury is still out on what kind of power Bogaerts will hit for in his career. But he looked powerful on Saturday, swatting a three-run shot in the bottom of the third that traveled a projected 373 feet, according to Statcast™. Bogaerts hit just seven homers in 2015. More >
"That was a good swing on that one. I wasn't looking for the home run," Bogaerts said. "Just got to be tough and try to put good swings on balls."
One pitch does in Estrada: One pitch stood between right-hander Estrada and a pretty good outing. But that pitch was an 89-mph fastball that Bogaerts crushed in the third inning for a home run. Estrada had held the Red Sox scoreless over seven innings in his previous outing, a 3-0 Blue Jays win at home last Sunday. On Saturday afternoon, though, the Red Sox got to him for four runs -- all in the third inning. More >
"He wasn't bad. The difference was Bogaerts' three-run homer," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. "He wears us out. I don't care who we're throwing at him."
Koji-Kimbrel slam door: One of the most underplayed storylines early in the season for the Red Sox has been setup man Koji Uehara, who has been marvelous. The 41-year-old righty started the eighth inning by giving up a bunt single, but then recovered to get a 6-4-3 double play from Kevin Pillar. The dangerous Josh Donaldson popped out to end the inning, and Uehara threw only 10 pitches. Kimbrel was untouchable in the ninth. More >
"He's been lights-out pretty much his entire career," Farrell said of Kimbrel. "But to have him anchor that bullpen, Koji continues to do what he's done for three full years here. We've got seasoned veterans that continue to execute pitches. I don't think they really let the game unravel them in terms of emotion. You have those contrasts of styles and the strikeout ability by both guys; it's got a chance to be a shutdown back of the bullpen."
UNDER REVIEW After giving up a one-out triple to Donaldson in the first, Price surrendered a deep fly ball to Bautista off the wall in left-center. Jackie Bradley Jr. bobbled the carom, and Bautista thought he could make it to third. Bradley, known for his strong arm, fired it to third baseman Shaw. Though the throw was off the mark, Shaw did a great job racing to the bag to apply the tag just as Bautista was arriving. Gibbons challenged, but it was ruled that the call stands. Donaldson scored on the play.
In the eighth, Ramirez hit a grounder to third, and the Jays went for a 5-4-3 double play. But second-base umpire Will Little called David Ortiz safe at second, ruling that Darwin Barney didn't touch the bag before throwing to first. After a crew chief review, the call was overturned.
QUOTABLE "I'm definitely surprised. I know he was an infielder, and shortstop is probably one of the toughest positions, but me going over there to third base, I know how hard it was for me. Him going over there, he's handled it extremely well." -- Bogaerts, on how well Ramirez has handled the move to first
"We've been struggling offensively, and then you run into Price today. We barreled some balls early, and then he settled in and does what he does best. Seven strong innings. So, yeah, he's not the guy you necessarily measure things against because he's just so good. We're due to break out. I keep saying that over and over. But it's going to happen, and then I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of it." -- Gibbons
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS One of the best things for the Blue Jays about Price being on their team for the stretch run in 2015 is that they didn't have to face him. The lefty has been dominant against the Jays in his career and is 6-0 with a 2.68 ERA in his last eight starts against them. In his last 15 starts in day games, Price is 8-0 with a 2.48 ERA.
The Blue Jays fanned 12 times in back-to-back games and have struck out a Major League-high 124 times this season. Last season, 23 teams finished with more strikeouts than Toronto.
WHAT'S NEXT Blue Jays: Right-hander Aaron Sanchez (0-0, 1.38 ERA) will make his third start of the season when the Blue Jays face the Red Sox at Fenway Park at 1:35 p.m. ET on Sunday. In a combined 13 innings this year, he has allowed just three runs (two earned) on eight hits with 13 strikeouts. He has made four career appearances (one start) at Fenway Park, allowing four runs (three earned) in eight innings.
Red Sox: Knuckleballer Steven Wright (0-1, 1.35 ERA) makes his second start of the season on Sunday. Wright's first start was last Sunday at Toronto, and he took a tough-luck loss, giving up two runs (one earned) over 6 2/3 innings.