John McDonald turned the simplest out – a sacrifice bunt – into a heads-up baserunning play that had nearly everyone surprised by the result.
McDonald scored from second when the plate was left uncovered on Jose Molina’s bunte in the Toronto Blue Jays’ 4-3 win over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday night.
“You see everything man. You see enough games and you see a lot of things happen,” Toronto manager Cito Gaston said.
Jose Batista hit his major league-leading 49th homer, extending his own club record set one night earlier, as the Blue Jays won their second straight over Boston.
Leading 2-1, Toronto scored a pair in the sixth. Adam Lind doubled leading off and scored when third baseman Adrian Beltre threw McDonald’s infield hit past first for an error. McDonald went to second on the play.
Molina followed with his sacrifice down the first-base line. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia came out about halfway to first to throw him out, but the plate was left uncovered and McDonald scored easily.
“Not a situation you see,” Saltalamacchia said. “You see it sometimes when a runner’s on first and no one covers third.”
Boston pitcher Josh Beckett took the blame. He headed from the mound to the line with his batterymate as the ball rolled slowly as they looked for it to kick foul.
“Nobody but me has that play,” he said. “We don’t need two people fielding that ball.”
McDonald even surprised his own third-base coach, Brian Butterfield, who didn’t realize it until McDonald was two steps past him. McDonald said the play came about because the ball hugged the line.
“They did the right thing, but it worked out in our favor. I wouldn’t say it was a great hustle play,” he said. “It’s just the way the ball plays out in front of you. My job is to run to third base on the sacrifice bunt. The plate was empty.”
The Blue Jays clinched a series after going 0-4-2 in their previous six.
Batista’s homer in the first inning sailed over the Green Monster seats and into a parking lot across the street. The Blue Jays’ slugger established the franchise home run record in Friday’s win. George Bell held the previous mark with 47, set in 1987.
“Jose’s probably looking for five more, but we’ll take one more,” Gaston said.
Ricky Romero (13-9) pitched six innings for the win, allowing three runs on six hits, walking three and striking out four. He entered 1-4 with a 7.88 ERA in his career against the Red Sox.
Kevin Gregg got three outs for his career-high 33rd save despite allowing Victor Martinez’s two-out triple. Beltre bounced to short to end it.
Beckett (5-5), gave up four runs – three earned – on 10 hits, striking out four and walking three in seven innings.
Boston had tied it 1-all in the second on David Ortiz’s RBI single after Beltre doubled leading off.
Notes: The Blue Jays equaled last year’s win total with 75. … Red Sox manager Terry Francona said he sent a note to Dodgers manager Joe Torre, who announced on Friday that he’s retiring at the end of the season. “I hope that whatever he’s doing, he’s doing on his own terms because I think he deserves that. He’s been doing it for a long time and there’s a lot of respect from a lot of people in how he conducts himself.” … Batista has 25 homers since the All-Star break. … Blue Jays highly touted prospect Kyle Drabek will make his second big league start Wednesday. … Gaston, who will retire at the end of the season, talked about what he’s planning when he leaves the game. His first plan is to bring bench coach Nick Leyva and Gene Tenace on a trip to Hawaii “for all they’ve done for me.” Then listed many European countries he’d like to visit. … Francona started Martinez at 1B to “keep his bat in the lineup.” Martinez came in hitting a major league-best .404 against left-handed pitching.