By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
Final, 4-3 Blue Jays: Strike three. Looking. Ballgame.READ MORE: Kyle Van Noy Hosts Christmas Party For Foster Children In Need
Storen confused Ortiz by putting the ball over the fat of the plate up in the strike zone for a called strike three. And that’s how this one ends.
That one boils down to a few things:
1. Craig Kimbrel and Koji Uehara were not effective in the eighth.
2. The defense — namely Josh Rutledge and Christian Vazquez — did those relievers no favors.
3. The offense went silent for far too long, managing just four hits off starter J.A. Happ.
On the plus side, Buchholz pitched well, which is something the Red Sox will need to happen regularly if they hope to remain competitive in the AL East.
Bottom 9th, 2 outs, 4-3 Blue Jays: Travis Shaw, for the second straight day, brought the Red Sox within two runs in the bottom of the ninth, this time sending a ball to left-center field off the wall to bring in Pedroia from second base.
That brought up Ramirez, who represented the tying run with two outs. And he came through with a single smoked up the middle to bring in Shaw.
Farrell elected to use David Ortiz as a pinch hitter for Young. The tying run is on first, and the winning run is at the plate.
Middle 9th, 4-1 Blue Jays: The Red Sox benefited from another double play, as Noe Ramirez was able to keep the score at 4-1. Now, it’s on the top of the Boston order to try to get something going.
Drew Storen is on to pitch for Toronto.
End 8th, 4-1 Blue Jays: Jackie Bradley came about a foot away from driving in a run and giving the Sox some life. Alas, Kevin Pillar loves making diving plays, and he made one coming in to end the inning.
Josh Rutledge followed up Young’s double by staring at strikes two and three to go down looking, and Christian Vazquez then grounded to short on a hot shot that advanced Young to third.
It’s not looking good for the Red Sox fans who hoped to head home happy today.
Bottom 8th, 4-1 Blue Jays: Well, at least the extra swings have paid off for Chris Young, who just smoked a wall-ball double to left to lead off the eighth. That ends the day for Happ, who gives way to Brett Cecil.
Middle 8th, 4-1 Blue Jays: And the wheels are off.
Kimbrel came in and just totally dominated Encarnacion, but he followed that up by walking Tulowitzki and allowing the go-ahead run to score.
Kimbrel then couldn’t retire Russell Martin, who eventually won an eight-pitch at-bat with a two-run single into right-center.
Goins did strike out to end the frame, but not before the damage was done.
Top 8th, 1 out, 1-1: We’ve got ourselves a tie game, and the Red Sox are still in a bit of trouble.
Koji Uehara created some trouble on his own, but his defense didn’t exactly help him out. To start the inning, Rutledge fielded a ball while lunging toward foul ground, and he then lofted a rainbow across the infield and over Shaw’s head, allowing Pillar to take second base. Uehara then walked pinch hitter Justin Smoak before Christian Vazquez allowed his second passed ball of the day when Saunders was showing bunt.
With the runners on second and third with nobody out, Saunders was free to swing away, and he smoked a low liner to Bogaerts, who was on the first base side of the second base bag. Bogaerts decided to go to first to take the sure out, allowing Pillar to score the trying run.
Uehara then hit Donaldson in the back with a splitter, setting up a two-on, one-out situation for Bautista. He didn’t roll into a double play this time around, as Uehara lost a long battle by walking the Jays’ dangerous hitter.
So now, Craig Kimbrel comes on looking to put out the fire, facing Edwin Encarnacion with the bases loaded and one out in a tie game.
End 7th, 1-0 Red Sox: Travis Shaw sent a flare into center field with one out to give the Red Sox their third hit of the day … but then Ramirez grounded into a 4-3 double play to end it, and the Sox once again head back to the field with their 1-0 lead.
It’ll be Koji Uehara on for Boston, coming in to face the bottom of the Jays lineup.
Middle 7th, 1-0 Red Sox: Tazawa did it, getting Goins to ground out to second and ending the seventh.
Buchholz’s final line: 6.2 IP, 6 H, 2 BB, 2 SO, 0 R. Nicely done by Buchholz, who entered the day with an 11.25 ERA and leaves with a 5.74 ERA.
Top 7th, 2 outs, 1-0 Red Sox: Clay Buchholz’s day is done, as John Farrell has decided to make the move before things might have turned sour. Buchholz was saved a bit by a spectacular catch by Jackie Bradley, who flew in from deep center to make a shoestring catch to rob Tulowitzki of what looked like a surefire single.
But after that catch, Russell Martin lined a single to right, and considering Martin is hitting .125 this year, that was as good a time as any to take Buchholz out of the game.
He’s responsible for the runner on first, but if Junichi Tazawa can get out of the seventh, it’ll be a nice clean line for Clay.
Ryan Goins is up for Toronto.
End 6th, 1-0 Red Sox: Another 1-2-3 inning from the Red Sox, who are accomplishing a whole lot of nothing against Happ. Good thing for them, they started Josh Rutledge today.
Happ’s allowed just two hits all day, but he’s currently on the hook.
Middle 6th, 1-0 Red Sox: OK, this is getting kind of ridiculous. Another double play.
And it was Bautista again, who has now grounded into three double plays himself. This one was a roller up the middle which Pedroia easily turned into a 4-3 double play.
That’s four double plays in six innings for the Blue Jays, who are no doubt going to be a tad frustrated. Nobody’s more mad than Bautista, though.
End 5th, 1-0 Red Sox: Bang, bang, bang, three more quick outs for Boston. Young flew out to right, and Rutledge and Vazquez both grounded out to shortstop. This game is cruising along.
Middle 5th, 1-0 Red Sox: It took a while, but Clay Buchholz finally has a strikeout.
It came with two outs and a runner on second, so it was awfully well-timed, and it just ended the Blue Jays’ half of the fifth inning.
Buchholz got two quick outs from Martin and Goins before Pillar singled into center then advanced to second on a passed ball.
This is certainly the best outing of Buchholz’s season, as he’s already matched his season-high in innings pitched. He’s also lowered his ERA by about five runs already. If he can give the Red Sox one more good inning, it’ll be a major boost to his — and the team’s — confidence. But he will need to do it against the top of the Toronto lineup.READ MORE: 'Get Vaccinated And Get Boosted': Gov. Baker Pushes COVID Shots In Brockton
End 4th, 1-0 Red Sox: Quite the crisp pace to this one, as the Red Sox go 1-2-3 in the fourth.
Middle 4th, 1-0 Red Sox: Another inning, another double play ball by the Blue Jays. This one came after a Donaldson leadoff walk, when Bautista sent a hard grounder directly at Bogaerts for a routine 6-4-3 double play. It’s the Blue Jays’ third in four innings.
Buchholz did allow a two-out single by Encarnacion, but he worked to get Tulowitzki to fly out to left to end the inning. He’s at 62 pitches through four.
End 3rd, 1-0 Red Sox: Dustin Pedroia absolutely unloaded on a 3-0 offering from Happ, but he sent it screaming foul down the third base line. He ended up sending a chopper up the middle, where Troy Tulowitzki was covering second base on a Jackie Bradley steal attempt. Tulowitzki fielded the ball, tagged the bag and then fired on to first for an inning-ending double play.
Middle 3rd, 1-0 Red Sox: Buchholz gets through another one, again pitching around a one-out base runner after Kevin Pillar singled into right-center.
Buchholz won a length battle with Carrera, eventually getting him to pop out in foul ground, before getting Saunders to ground out to the right side to end the inning.
Buchholz has looked good the first time through the lineup, needing 46 pitches to get through three. We’ll see how he does the second time around.
Bradley, Betts and Pedroia are due up for the Red Sox.
End 2nd, 1-0 Red Sox: The Sox have a lead from an unlikely source, as Josh Rutledge sent a ball into right-center field with Hanley Ramirez on second with two outs. Rutledge huffed it and turned it into a double, as Ramirez easily made it home.
Ramirez got there by smoking a line drive down the right-field line for a ground-rule double with one out. Chris Young popped out in the following at-bat, but Rutledge stepped up and delivered.
Middle 2nd, 0-0: Clay Buchholz may occasionally have trouble finding friends at Fenway Park, but today there is no doubt that he and the double play are amigos.
After giving up a one-out single to Tulowitzki on a smashed ground ball between short and third, Buchholz induced a 6-4-3 double play from the ice-cold Russell Martin to end the inning. That’s two inning-ending twin killings for the Sox through two innings.
End 1st, 0-0: The bats are not yet alive, as Happ gets the Sox in order. Betts and Pedroia both flew out to center, while Bogaerts went down swinging on three pitches. Happ needed 12 pitches to get through the first, while Buchholz threw 15.
Middle 1st, 0-0: Josh Donaldson worked a one-out walk, but it went for naught as Jose Bautista stepped up and chopped a grounder to Josh Rutledge at third base. He fired a bullet to Pedroia at second to start a 5-4-3 double play, and the inning was over.
This figured to be a challenging start for Buchholz, but that’s a good start.
Top 1st, 0-0: The Red Sox have taken the field, and Clay Buchholz’s first pitch to Michael Saunders is a called strike on the outside edge. They’re officially underway at Fenway.
The Sox are wearing their rare home “BOSTON” jerseys this morning, which they debuted back in 2013 in their first home game following the bombing.
11:01 a.m.: Jeff Bauman and Jake Gyllenhall took over the TD Garden a few weeks ago, and today they’ll take their turn at Fenway Park. The two made it out to the mound for the ceremonial first pitch, with Hanley Ramirez catching Bauman’s pitch and David Ortiz catching Gyllenhall’s.
10:59 a.m.: Here’s a look at the Toronto lineup, as the Red Sox wrap up the pregame ceremonies.
1. Michael Saunders, LF
2. Josh Donaldson, 3B
3. Jose Bautista, DH
4. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B
5. Troy Tulowitzki, SS
6. Russell Martin, C
7. Ryan Goins, 2B
8. Kevin Pillar, CF
9. Ezequiel Carrera, RF
9:30 a.m.: Against a big lefty, David Ortiz is getting the day off.
Despite decent numbers against Happ (.231 average, two walks, one double in 15 plate appearances), Ortiz will be given a breather on Monday morning. Perhaps if Chris Young comes up against Osuna in the ninth, Farrell will think of using Ortiz as a pinch hitter.
Also of note: Josh Rutledge will get his first start of 2016. He was called up when Sandoval went on the disabled list.
Here’s the full Red Sox lineup for today:
1. Mookie Betts, RF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Xander Bogaerts, SS
4. Travis Shaw, 1B
5. Hanley Ramirez, DH
6. Chris Young, LF
7. Josh Rutledge, 3B
8. Christian Vazquez, C
9. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
9 a.m.: It is a beautiful morning for baseball in Boston.
The annual 11 a.m. Marathon Monday game is upon us, and for John Farrell, it comes at a rather convenient time. The manager on Sunday, with the game on the line, was content to let Chris Young, Jackie Bradley and Ryan Hanigan bat in the bottom of the ninth and the Red Sox trailing by two.
It was the use of Young, in particular, that raised everybody’s eyebrows, as he’s on this roster exclusively to face left-handed pitching. Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna is a righty, and against him, Young stood no chance. He struck out looking.
Farrell’s explanation was perplexing.
“First of all, Chris Young needs the at-bats. We’ve got left-handers coming, but against a guy like [Toronto starter Aaron] Sanchez, who’s got as good stuff if not better than Osuna, that’s a spot where I’m going to continue to stay with [Young] in that moment,” Farrell circularly explained.
Farrell continued: “I understand the question, and yet at the same time, I’m going to stick with the guy I started — like I said before — against a big-time arm in Sanchez. … He’ll be in there the next two days, so to take a guy who hasn’t played for a week and just assume he’s going to give you production against left-handers, he’s got to see right-handers to get the at-bats.”
Let’s unravel that a bit.
“That’s a spot where I’m going to continue to stay with Young in that moment.”
Yes, John. We know that you did that. We’re wondering why. Young batted. 182 vs. righties last year. He’s 0-for-8 against them this year. He should not have been in the game. Brock Holt hit .270 against righties last year. He’s hitting .308 against them this year.
But thanks, John, for telling us that you used Young. We were curious.
“I’m going to stick with the guy I started.”
Again, this was the problem.
” … to take a guy who hasn’t played for a week and just assume he’s going to give you production against left-handers, he’s got to see right-handers to get the at-bats.”
In order to be able to hit lefties, he’s going to have to face righties. OK. Maybe. But he doesn’t need to see that righty in the bottom of the ninth with the Red Sox trailing by two, riding the high of a Travis Shaw home run to pump some life into the home team.
Also, he’s all but admitting that a player who doesn’t play much can’t be expected to produce. That seems like as good a reason as any to sub him out of the game in a crucial spot in the ninth inning.
Anyway, fortunately for Farrell, his decisions won’t get a full day’s life to be dissected and debated, because today’s game starts bright and early at 11 a.m.
We’ll have updates and analysis from start to finish — on the field and in the dugout, too — right here in the live blog. Clay Buchholz will take the mound opposite J.A. Happ. Check back early and often.MORE NEWS: Car Involved In Holbrook Crash Was Stolen From Amazon Driver, Police Say