TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' bullpen has been a major strength through the first month of the season, but Mookie Betts and the Red Sox don't seem to care.Boston rallied for the second consecutive night against the Toronto relief corps, and unlike the previous game, this time the Blue Jays
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' bullpen has been a major strength through the first month of the season, but Mookie Betts and the Red Sox don't seem to care.
Boston rallied for the second consecutive night against the Toronto relief corps, and unlike the previous game, this time the Blue Jays could not bounce back. Right-hander Danny Barnes surrendered the decisive two-run shot to Betts, who picked up his second of the game, in the seventh inning of a 4-3 loss to the Red Sox on Wednesday night at Rogers Centre.
The Blue Jays' bullpen is first in the American League with a 2.43 ERA, even after the past two nights, and their relievers rank in the top five of almost every major category. It would have been unrealistic to expect perfection every night, but the Blue Jays picked a bad time to regress back to the norm with the AL East's top team in town. Betts and his 2-for-5 game with three RBIs is a main reason why.
"He's at the top of the game," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Betts. "He can beat you in so many ways. He's one of those guys who will be in the MVP running every year, I have to believe. But he'll beat you with his glove, too. He's at a different level than most of them."
Closer Roberto Osuna was charged with his first blown and first earned runs of the season on Tuesday night, but Curtis Granderson helped save the day in the bottom of the 10th with the fourth walk-off homer of his career. Toronto was not as fortunate the following game, as Barnes gave up the lead in the seventh and Boston's bullpen took it the rest of the way.
Toronto carried a one-run lead into the top of the seventh after right-hander Aaron Sanchez was pulled from the game. Sanchez limited the Red Sox to a pair of runs on three hits and two walks while striking out eight in his fourth quality start of the season. Barnes, who entered this game with one earned run over 11 2/3 innings, was not as fortunate.
Barnes allowed a single to the second batter he faced and then served up an opposite-field homer to Betts, who picked up the 11th multihomer game of his career. That was the second home run of the season allowed by Barnes, and as good as he was last year with a 3.55 ERA over 66 innings, the fly-ball pitcher surrendered 11 home runs and has been known to be susceptible to the long ball.
"Tough one late in the game, but we knew it wasn't going to be easy facing these guys," Sanchez said of the Red Sox, who snapped their three-game losing streak.
Yangervis Solarte hit a solo home run for the Blue Jays while Steve Pearce added a pair of hits, including a double. Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez picked up the victory for Boston after he allowed three runs on six hits and a walk while striking out three. Toronto will need a victory on Thursday to avoid losing its second consecutive series to a division rival.
"I think we missed some pitches that we could have hit," Solarte said through an interpreter when asked about Rodriguez's outing. "I think he got lucky a couple of times and we didn't take advantage of it. I think we made the adjustments a little bit, but I think he got lucky more than us got beat."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Setting the tone: Betts' second home run of the night was the deciding factor, but his first one of the game set the tone. Sanchez's first two pitches of the game were balls and his third was sent over the wall in left field for Betts' seventh home run of the season. It was his second multihomer game of the year and the second home run that Sanchez has allowed this season.
"He's somebody that can get you quick," Sanchez said. "Like you saw tonight, they were up 1-0 three pitches into the game. You just try to limit damage from that spot. You try to be aggressive with your pitches. You try to get him out on your pitches and see if he'll chase on some things. I felt like my next two at-bats with him were very good. He put a good swing on a pitch that I thought was middle middle, and with a player like that, he's supposed to do that."
Solarte goes deep: Solarte gave the Blue Jays their first lead of the game when he hit a solo shot in the bottom of the sixth inning off Rodriguez. According to Statcast™, Solarte's sixth dinger of the year was projected to travel 434 feet and the ball left his bat at 107.5 mph. All of Solarte's home runs have been projected to travel at least 400 feet. His longest was 459 feet against Jesse Chavez and the Rangers on April 6.
"I don't think about numbers at all. I just try to do my job," Solarte said. "I just try to make contact. That's what I've been doing my whole career. The ball is just going farther than expected, but I'm just trying to make contact."
The Blue Jays have lost eight of their last nine games against the Red Sox at Rogers Centre dating back to last season. Toronto is 6-7 vs. the AL East this year and are now 3-2 in one-run games. The Blue Jays also dropped to 1-9 when scoring less than four runs.
Right-hander Marco Estrada (2-1, 5.32) has the unenviable task of facing Chris Sale (1-1, 1.86) when the Blue Jays close out their three-game series against the Red Sox on Thursday night at Rogers Centre. Estrada has experienced some issues with the long ball this season with six home runs allowed in four starts. He's coming off a year in which he surrendered a career-high 31 home runs over 33 starts. First pitch is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. ET.
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.