Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Game of the Day (8/26/14)

Red Sox 11, Blue Jays 7 (11). Boston's Rubby De La Rosa, who is 25 and just cleared 150 career innings, faced Toronto's RA Rickey, who is 39 and has thrown over 150 innings in each of the last five seasons.

Boston seized the lead quickly. Brock Holt led off the game by reaching on a strikeout/passed ball, and Dustin Pedroia followed with a two-run homer. They added a third run later in the inning when Mike Napoli singled, Allen Craig walked, and Will Middlebrooks doubled; Craig was thrown out at home on the play, but Napoli had already safely crossed the plate. Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera started the bottom of the inning with singles, but De La Rosa recovered to strand them both.

Mookie Betts walked and Christian Vazquez singled to begin the second, but Holt hit into a double play to cut the rally off at the knees. De La Rosa was perfect in the second, and Dickey worked around an error in the third. Toronto then picked up a run in the bottom of the inning when Munenori Kawasaki singled, Reyes doubled him to third, and Cabrera hit an RBI groundout; the next two hitters flied out to leave Reyes in scoring position. Dickey was perfect in the fourth, however, and the Jays pulled another run closer in the bottom of the inning when Juan Francisco and Josh Thole walked and Kawasaki singled Francisco around.

Dickey allowed a Yoenis Cespedes single and hit Napoli with a pitch with two out in the fifth, but left them both on, and his teammates evened the game in the bottom of the inning when Cabrera singled, Adam Lind doubled, and Edwin Encarnacion hit into a fielder's choice; Lind was thrown out at third, but Cabrera came home safely. De La Rosa was pulled for Tommy Layne, who allowed a Francisco single before ending the inning. Dickey worked a 1-2-3 sixth, while Allen Wilson allowed a Kawasaki double but left the runner on.

Dustin McGowan replaced Dickey in the seventh and promptly allowed a Holt single, a Pedroia walk, and a Cespedes single that put Boston back in front. Brett Cecil relieved and finished the inning without further damage, and Jose Bautista led off the bottom of the seventh with a homer to even the score at 4. Burke Badenhop then supplanted Wilson and preserved the tie. Aaron Loup was perfect in the eighth, while Badenhop hit Kawasaki with a pitch but allowed nothing else.

In the ninth, Holt chased Loup with a one-out single, and Cespedes singled against Aaron Sanchez before both runners were left on. Edward Mujica allowed a two-out Lind double, then intentionally walked Encarnacion before striking out pinch hitter Dioner Navarro to force extras. Casey Janssen retired the Sox in order in the top of the tenth; Junichi Tazawa allowed a one-out Kevin Pillar double, but left the runner in scoring position to keep the game going.

The game finally broke in the eleventh. Janssen allowed a leadoff single to Betts. Vazquez bunted, and Janssen tried and failed to throw out the lead runner on the play. Holt bunted, and Janssen failed to pick up the ball entirely, loading the bases with nobody out. The Sox then stopped bunting, and Pedroia singled in two runs. Sergio Santos replaced Janssen and struck out Cespedes, but Napoli followed with a three-run homer, and Daniel Nava's single was followed by a Craig homer that made it 11-4. At this point, the Jays more or less gave up entirely; Steven Tolleson, who had pinch run for Lind back in the ninth, was called on to pitch, and actually retired Middlebrooks and Betts to end the inning. Heath Hembree took the ball for the Sox in the bottom of the eleventh; he walked Bautista, allowed a Tolleson single, and gave up back-to-back two-out doubles to Navarro and Danny Valencia, pulling the Jays to within 11-7. Pillar then grounded out to end the game with the tying run in the hole - which, to be fair, is closer than you'd have expected the Jays to get at that point.

For ten innings in this game, the Blue Jays did most of the big things pretty well. They hit five doubles and a homer on offense, and struck out 12 Red Sox while walking only 3. Boston kept them contained, however, as Toronto went 1 for 16 with runners in scoring position over those ten innings. That allowed the littlest of little things to decide the game in the eleventh, as Casey Janssen twice failed to avail himself of free outs that the Sox helpfully offered him, leading to the decisive scoring avalanche. As anyone who watched the 2006 Tigers melt down in the World Series will tell you, pitcher fielding can make a significant difference in a key moment.

Of course, Sergio Santos allowing two homers in the inning didn't help much either.

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