Blue Jays 7, Red Sox 4
The Red Sox have dropped their third straight series and fallen to 3-7 over their last 10 games after falling 7-4 to the Blue Jays Thursday night behind another terrible start from Andrew Miller.
While Miller survived the first inning unscathed largely thanks to Marco Scutaro's stellar defensive effort, he would not prove so fortunate in the second. Three straight hits to lead off the inning put the Sox in a 1-0 hole, but it was the fourth batter who really put an exclamation mark on things. Facing a 3-2 count, Andrew Miller threw a low changeup to J.P. Arencibia, who put a good uppercut swing on the pitch, hooking it so high and far that it bounced off the wall above the luxury booths. With another homer coming in the third inning from Edwin Encarnacion, the Sox found the game blown open on them.
They would not fight back, ultimately, until it was too late. A Jacoby Ellsbury double and Marco Scutaro single would lead to three runs in the seventh, with Michael Bowden providing a reasonably stabilizing presence out of the bullpen to cut the Jays' lead to 6-3. But another homer in the bottom of the eighth off of Felix Doubront built the lead back to four runs. While the Sox would get a homer from Jason Varitek in the ninth, and bring the tying run to the plate in Dustin Pedroia, the slumping second baseman struck out on four straight fastballs to end the game.
The composite score of the series ends, amazingly, at 28-20 in favor of the Red Sox, but at the end of the day that's not what matters. By dropping seven of their last ten games, the Sox have suddenly given some meaning to the upcoming series against the Rays. With a sweep--which doesn't seem entirely unlikely given the way the Sox are playing right now--the Rays would suddenly be within a reasonable striking distance of the Sox and their Wild Card spot.
The heat is on, it's time for the Sox to respond.
Three For The Road
Slumping Second Baseman
It's been a bad week for Dustin Pedroia, who finds himself in a 3-for-30 slump in his last seven games. What's more, it's come with six strikeouts in his last four games. All-together, Pedroia is looking not like his MVP-contender self that Sox fans had gotten used to over the past few months, but the off-balance hacker who caused them so much pain back in April. Perhaps this is caused by the fact that Pedroia has played in every game since June 9. It's not exactly an ideal time to give the second baseman a night off, but it might be very much necessary.
Scutaro Does It All
If Marco Scutaro hasn't won back his job as a starter by now, he should have. A 3-for-4 night has his OBP up to .352 on the year, and that wasn't even the most impressive part of his night, as the first couple of innings saw him put up highlight play after highlight play. If only the rest of the team were running hot right now, the Sox could be at a level of productivity that they didn't even see in June.
The Surprising Catching Duo
With tonight's homer, the duo of Jason Varitek and Jarrod Saltalamacchia now have 26 homers on the year, trailing only the Rangers and Braes at the position. Before Thursday's loss, their .332 wOBA was good for fifth best in the Majors. Somehow one of the biggest offensive holes on the team ended up being one of the biggest advantages the Sox have over other teams.
Red Sox MVP -- Marco Scutaro
For everything listed up there and just the fact that he and Jacoby Ellsbury seem to be the only consistent players on the team right about now. Scutaro is still no All-Star, but he's finally starting to find his groove this year, just in time for a playoff run that everyone else seems to be gearing...down for.
Up Next -- Friday, 7:10 p.m. at Tampa Bay Rays | John Lackey (12-11, 6.11 ERA) vs. Wade Davis (9-8, 4.50 ERA)
If ever the Sox have needed John Lackey to get it together for one clutch start, now is the time. His last start wasn't too far off from the sort of stuff the Sox had seen from him of late, but it crossed that line between acceptable and not. If he can draw it back in, and provide a reasonable outing, then Wade Davis isn't the type of guy to shut out the Sox.