Blue Jays get best of Kimbrel in comeback win

April 18th, 2016

BOSTON -- Before his two-out single in the seventh inning on Monday, Russell Martin had been hitless over his previous 15 at-bats against right-handed pitchers. That base hit ended the day for Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz -- who had held the Blue Jays scoreless on six hits and two walks -- and allowed Toronto to get into the Boston bullpen.

And that was when the Blue Jays did their damage, with Martin's two-out, two-run single in the eighth off another right-hander in Craig Kimbrel proving to be the decisive blow in a 4-3 win at Fenway Park.

The Blue Jays sent nine batters to the plate in the eighth inning against former closer Koji Uehara and current closer Kimbrel, with four scoring. The pair was forced to throw a combined 48 pitches, just 25 for strikes. Kimbrel, who has been one of baseball's most dominant closers, allowed all three of his inherited runners to score.

With Toronto trailing, 1-0, Kevin Pillar opened the eighth with single off Uehara. That was followed followed by a walk to Justin Smoak and a passed ball before Michael Saunders' RBI groundout tied the score. Josh Donaldson was hit by a pitch and Jose Bautista walked to load the bases, ending Uehara's outing.

Kimbrel struck out Edwin Encarnacion swinging at 99-mph fastball. Troy Tulowitzki then worked a walk to bring in Darwin Barney, pinch-running for Smoak, with the go-ahead run. Martin followed by ripping his two-run single on the ninth pitch of the at-bat to put the Blue Jays ahead, 4-1.

"That was big," said manager John Gibbons. "But yeah, we feel good. We needed it. But that's a typical Fenway Park game. They always seem to go down to the end."

The Red Sox scored two runs off Drew Storen in the ninth before he closed out the game by striking out David Ortiz looking to earn his first save of the season.

"It's a big situation right there against a tough pitcher," Martin said of the at-bat against Kimbrel. "I was fortunate to kind of get ahead in the count, and then he's got an electric fastball, so really I just trying to put the barrel on the ball. Took some good swings. He kept pounding the strike zone. I think the biggest pitch of the at-bat was probably that he threw a fastball in, [which] was probably a ball and I was able to foul that pitch off. After I fouled that one off, I'm like, 'OK, if I can handle that one, I feel pretty good right now.'"

Tulowitzki's walk was the first Kimbrel has given up in 31 bases-loaded situations in his career.

"Obviously, he's one of the best closers in the game," Tulowitzki said. "His fastball just tends to ride up on guys. So trying to get on top of it [is important]. I just did a good job today of laying off the pitch that was up and put together a good at-bat and did whatever I could to try to help us win."