|Connelly’s Top Ten: Comebacks, Championships and Doobie Brothers||Patriots 2014-2015 Position Review: Quarterbacks||Cubs Hire Manny, Youkilis to Try to Become ’04 Red Sox…Literally||Red Sox 2015 Preview: Buchholz, Porcello, Miley, Masterson, Kelly|
The second heart-breaking loss in the last three games was arguably harder to swallow than the first, if for no other reason than that Tim Wakefield was so close—closer than he’s ever been—to his 200th win. Even so, this was an ugly game from the get-go, and both sides were to blame.
When the dust settled, the Red Sox and Blue Jays totaled 21 runs (11-10 Jays), 22 hits (14-8 Red Sox), 6 HBP (4 Jays and 2 Sox), but the one number that seemingly everyone in Boston cares about, that magic number 200, wasn’t there. Again. For the eighth—count that EIGHTH—time (seven starts and a long relief outing).
Just like the night before, the Sox scored early, pushing three runners across in the first against Jays starter Brandon Morrow. Kevin Youkilis was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to score the first run, and two batters later, Marco Scutaro, who has been scorching in his old home park, drove in two more runs with an RBI single.
But Wakefield wasn’t sharp. He gave up a sacrifice fly after two walks and a wild pitch, and after Jarrod Saltalamacchia allowed a passed ball. And the next inning, Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia hit a 2-run homer to tie the game. Toronto added two more an inning later on a hit batter, a wild pitch, a Jose Bautista ground-rule double, a walk to rookie Brett Lawrie, and an error by Scutaro on a double steal play. Suddenly, Wakefield had relinquished the lead and put the Sox in a 5-3 hole.
But, the Red Sox bounced back. In the fourth, Josh Reddick had an RBI double before Jacoby Ellsbury hit his 25th home-run of the season, a 3-run shot that put the Sox ahead once again. David Ortiz launched a solo homer in the fifth to make it 8-5, and when Wakefield escaped the bottom of the inning with the lead, the pieces were in place for the end of perhaps the most frustrating drought of his 19-year career.
Franklin Morales and Dan Wheeler shakily took care of the sixth inning, but Edwin Encarnacion pushed the Jays’ sixth run across in the seventh inning with an RBI single. In the eighth, everything imploded. Daniel Bard hit a batter, allowed a single, walked a batter, and, after striking out the next two hitters, walked in two runs. In the disastrous mess, he also ended all hope of Wakefield earning the win. Matt Albers came on and allowed a bases-clearing double to give the Toronto an 11-8 lead, going into the ninth.
In the 9th, the Red Sox didn’t go down quietly, as Adrian Gonzalez crushed a solo home-run, and Scutaro had an RBI single, but the Jays were able to shut the door and hand the Sox a bitter and frustrating 11-10 loss.
The Red Sox, down in the series 2-1, now sit at 85-57, 2.5 games back of New York. The Blue Jays improved to 71-72 but have an elimination number of only 4 (sum of wins by division leader and Toronto losses). The two teams finish off the 4-game series on Thursday.
Ellsbury has the most home runs from the leadoff spot (23) in the Red Sox order since Nomar Garciaparra had 30 in 1997….Dustin Pedroia broke an 0-for-13 skid with a single in the first inning….With his next home run this season, Ortiz will have seven 30-homer seasons in Boston. The only player with more is Ted Williams with eight….Youkilis has now been hit by a pitch 81 times in his career, a new Red Sox franchise record….Scutaro is now 8-for-13 in the series with 3 runs and 7 RBI. Against Toronto this season, he is hitting .486 (17-for-35) with 8 runs and 11 RBI in 8 games…. Bard’s 36 pitches set a season high, and his 5 runs allowed is now a career high….Wakefield may only have a few more opportunities for his 200th win, as his effectiveness has dropped severely, and his role has diminished. A return next season seems unlikely if he can achieve the milestone this season…. Jonathan Papelbon was in the bullpen, and many, including Sox radio announcer Dale Arnold felt that he should have entered the game in the eighth inning when Bard was clearly faltering. That he did not is either a poor managing move or a sign that Papelbon might be ailing.