While this is the sort of offensive production many expected from the team coming into the year, the majority of the Red Sox’ runs came from unexpected sources Sunday. After escaping the first inning allowing only a single to Adrian Gonzalez, it was the bottom half of the order that went to work on Jesse Litsch in the second.
Jed Lowrie, getting the start at shortstop, was once again Boston’s spark plug, picking up a gift hit—appropriate given that it was his birthday—when a weak fly ball was pushed just fair by the wind, dropping in front of Toronto left fielder Travis Snider. This would become something of a trend for the day, with Lowrie twice reaching base thanks to errors later in the game.
With J.D. Drew shooting a single into center field, the stage was set for two of the coldest hitters in the lineup to have a shot at driving in some runs. First up was Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who found himself the recipient of his own lucky hit, tapping a ground ball weakly through the hole between second and first for the RBI single. Jacoby Ellsbury also came through, but in rather more convincing fashion. Falling behind in the count 2-0, Jesse Litsch served up a middle-middle fastball, and sent it well past Pesky’s Pole and into the stands for his team-leading third homer.
While Ellsbury’s bomb was all positive, Saltalamacchia’s hit was just a matter of making up for the mistake that had already given the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead in the top of the inning. While Jon Lester was shaky throughout much of his outing, serving up three walks and seeming to focus in on an outside corner the umpire clearly wasn’t going to give him, he had a chance to throw some shutout ball. That opportunity was lost, however, when with runners on the corners and two outs in the second inning, Saltalamacchia threw to second base trying to catch a running Juan Rivera. As Dustin Pedroia dove to save an errant throw and start the run-down on Rivera, who eventually became the third out, Aaron Hill calmly trotted in the back door to score the run. It’s hard to describe that as anything other than “bush league”.
The good news, then, was that Saltalamacchia was not done. With Litsch settling in and retiring a long string of batters, the Red Sox were still holding on to their 4-1 lead entering the sixth inning. Finally getting to Litsch again, the Red Sox loaded the bases with a single from David Ortiz, a walk from J.D. Drew, and one of the errors on a ball hit by Jed Lowrie—this one a check swing bunt that Jayson Nix could not make a play on. Once again, Jarrod Saltalamacchia stepped up with a chance to deliver, and this time he did so emphatically, lacing a line drive into right field to drive in two more runs. Only Tim Bogar’s bizarre decision to try and score J.D. Drew from first kept the inning from continuing, but the Sox had a much more secure 6-1 lead.
With Daniel Bard and Felix Doubront holding down the fort in the seventh and eighth innings, the second error on a ball hit by Jed Lowrie—this time Adam Lind booting a ball just past the first base bag—brought home two more batters, giving the Sox eight runs on the day. Dan Wheeler came in for mop-up duty, and quietly retired the side in order.
The Red Sox are now 4-10 on the season, just a half-game back of where they were last year at 4-9. The 2010 Sox—a team with many more problems than this one—would eventually pull within a half game of first place in the division before being wracked by injuries and falling out of contention.