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Everything seemed to be going according to the plan general manager Ben Cherington had in mind through the first four games of the season for the Boston Red Sox. The team was hitting, pitching, and playing good defense. On Saturday, the team experienced the type of loss that forced Red Sox Nation to put the excitement of April results on hold, as the team was blanked by J.A. Happ and the Toronto Blue Jays, losing 5-0.
The Sox managed a mere two hits, one coming off the bat of Jacoby Ellsbury to begin the game, and the other by Dustin Pedroia with two outs in the ninth inning. Starter John Lackey was the real story though, as he pitched well until suffering an injury in the fifth. After a slider to Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes, Lackey’s arm fell to his side, suffering from discomfort in his right biceps. The extent of his injury has yet to be determined.
The team’s most likely candidate to replace Lackey in the rotation is Alfredo Aceves, who came in to pitch the remainder of the game following Lackey’s departure. Lackey had allowed a two-run home run to catcher J.P. Arencibia to give Toronto a 2-0 lead.
After walking two batters in the sixth, Aceves surrendered a massive three-run shot to center fielder Colby Rasmus to break the game open. The Blue Jays were without slugger Jose Bautista (right ankle) and third baseman Brett Lawrie (oblique), but Arencibia and Rasmus made up for it by teeing off on Red Sox pitching.
On the plus side for Boston, Lackey was effective before his injury against a good lineup. If he manages to return from the injury soon, it will be interesting to see how his season progresses. Ellsbury also had a good day, stealing two bases to give him three for the year. Ellsbury’s use of his speed was a significant question mark in spring training as he heads into his contract season.
Overall, the offense for the Red Sox was pretty ugly on a Saturday afternoon that figured to be a slugfest. The 4-through-8 hitters in the lineup went 0-for-16 against Blue Jays pitching with eight strikeouts. That included a disappointing three-strikeout game for Mike Napoli, who has better career numbers against left-handed pitching. The day seemed to belong to the southpaw Happ, who struck out six and only gave up one hit over 5.1 innings.
Tomorrow the teams square off in the rubber game of the three-game series, as the Sox send Jon Lester to the hill to stay strong in the American League East. Lester was effective against the Yankees on Opening Day, pitching 5.0 innings while striking out seven and allowing two runs, good enough for the win. The Jays counter with 2012 National League Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey, who lost his first start for Toronto despite pitching 6.0 solid innings, allowing three earned runs. Boston hasn’t faced Dickey since 2009, when he pitched for the Minnesota Twins. First pitch is at 1:07 p.m.
Tags: Alfredo Aceves, Boston Red Sox, Brett Lawrie, Colby Rasmus, Dustin Pedroia, J.A. Happ, J.P. Arencibia, Jacoby Ellsbury, John Lackey, Jon Lester, Jose Reyes, Mike Napoli, r.a. dickey, Toronto Blue Jays