The Red Sox bats were ice cold for eight innings yesterday, but Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna left the door ajar for a comeback in the ninth.
Hanley Ramirez led off the final frame with a single, and Travis Shaw laced a home run into the visitors bullpen to cut the Toronto lead to 5-3.
Manager John Farrell had Brock Holt and Dustin Pedroia on the bench as potential pinch hitters, but with the 6-7-8 spots coming up, he decided to stick with his starters.
Chris Young is a career .224 hitter against righties, but with nobody out, Farrell kept him in to face the right-handed Osuna.
“Chris Young needs the at-bats,” Farrell said. “We’ve got left-handers coming, but against a guy like (Blue Jays starter Aaron) Sanchez who has as good of stuff, if not better than Osuna, that’s a spot where I’m going to continue to stay with him.”
The manager’s gamble didn’t pay off, as Young went down looking. Jackie Bradley Jr. followed with another strikeout, Ryan Hanigan lined out to third base, and the final was 5-3.
Farrell defended his decision to keep his platoon outfielder at the plate.
“We’re going to need everyone,” Farrell said. “I’m going to stick with the guy that I started against a big time arm in Sanchez. I thought that the swings that (Young) took against Osuna, he put good swings on the ball. He’ll be in there the next two days. To take a guy who hasn’t played for a week, and then assume that he’s going to be productive against left-handers, he’s got to see right-handers to get the at-bats.”
The Sox found themselves playing from behind because Sanchez had an electric outing. The Toronto starter gave up two hits and one run over seven innings.
Coming into the ninth, the Sox had only had one runner reach second base.
And for the second time this season, Steven Wright was the tough-luck loser against Toronto. The Blue Jays tagged Wright for a pair of runs in the first, but the knuckleballer settled down and went six strong.
After Wright departed a 2-1 game, the Sox bullpen struggled. Noe Ramirez was hit hard, allowing an inherited runner and one of his own to score, and Matt Barnes was tagged for another run in the top of the ninth that ballooned the Blue Jays’ lead to 5-1.
That wouldn’t be good enough to best Sanchez.
“Sanchez, he was nasty,” Wright said. “He’s throwing upper-90’s, he was hitting his spots, changing speeds really well, and that’s just the way baseball goes sometimes. We’ve just got to be ready to go (today).”
Sanchez carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning that was broken up by Marco Hernandez’ first career hit, a broken-bat single to left. Hernandez stole second base and advanced to third when catcher Russell Martin’s throw sailed into center field. Mookie Betts singled Hernandez in to cut the deficit to 2-1, but it was the only offense the Sox could muster in the first eight innings.
Despite the loss, the 23-year-old Hernandez was happy to have a hit in his first big league start.
“It feels great,” Hernandez said. “I just go out there and push myself and try to go hard. And at the same time, have fun.”
As a team, the Sox will be having more fun if they can bounce back against the Blue Jays in today’s Marathon Monday game and take 3-of-4 from their division rivals.