Chavis delivers final blow in 13-inning slugfest
TORONTO -- The Red Sox didn’t make it easy on themselves on Wednesday night in Toronto, but Michael Chavis was there to save the game in the 13th inning and deliver the 6-5 win.
Chavis’ 13th-inning home run, his 10th of the season, put the Red Sox up by one before the game could stretch too deep into the night ahead of Thursday’s 12:37 p.m. ET finale. His 424-foot shot to left-center field came on a 1-2 cutter from Jimmy Cordero that Chavis was all over.
In Chavis’ previous at-bat in the top of the 11th, he admitted that he stepped up to the plate specifically hunting for a home run. Chavis grounded out then, but he took a slightly different approach two innings later.
“Going into that at-bat, I was still trying to do damage, but I wasn’t exactly sitting there like I was trying to hit a home run this time,” Chavis said. “But I was still trying to do damage.”
The home run was Chavis’ third in four games and his second of the series after he was part of Boston’s offensive outburst in the series opener. Now 28 games into his Major League career, Chavis continues to produce at an incredible pace.
Boston’s bullpen surrendered a lead built by Rick Porcello earlier in the game, including a two-out base hit to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth. The two sides exchanged solo home runs in the 12th inning, with Rowdy Tellez answering for the Blue Jays after it looked like Mookie Betts would play the role of hero.
On a 3-1 fastball from Joe Biagini, Betts went deep to center field to put the Red Sox up by one at the time. The 423-foot blast was Betts’ eighth of the season.
The last time the Red Sox hit multiple go-ahead home runs in extra innings of the same game was Apr. 29, 1951 at Philadelphia.
“It wasn’t easy,” said manager Alex Cora. “Rick was outstanding. We felt like we had everything lined up going into the 7-8-9 and it didn’t work out, but the guys kept grinding.”
Betts made his presence felt in every aspect of the game, walking three times before recording his first hit of the night in dramatic fashion. At one point in the bottom of the 10th, Cora even brought Betts in to form a five-man infield with the Blue Jays threatening.
Porcello back in his groove
The month of May has seen Porcello settle back into his steady old ways, which continued on Wednesday night in Toronto as the Red Sox starter controlled the zone with a fresh mix of pitches.
“Great win for us,” Porcello said. “The guys kept battling. The way our offense kept responding, I know we had a tough time closing it out but they kept putting good swings on balls.”
Porcello’s curveball played a larger role than it typically does, and it was effective in the win. The right-hander allowed just one run on three hits over six innings without issuing a walk, and he turned to the curve for 20 of his 80 pitches (25 percent), which is well up from his season average entering play of 9.3 percent usage.
The value of that curveball showed itself against Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the top of the sixth inning, even though it was an at-bat that ended with Vlad Jr. standing at first. Guerrero had gotten to Porcello in his previous trip to the plate with a mammoth home run to center field, so Porcello chose to soften things up with a pair of curveballs the next time around.
Guerrero swung right through the second curve for strike one, which was one of six swinging strikes on 20 curveballs from Porcello. Even though Guerrero reached on a blooper later in the count, Porcello’s strategy was clear to see.
“I thought Sandy [Leon] and I were on the same page. He did a nice job of keeping them at bay,” Porcello said. “I made a mistake on Guerrero there and he’s the real deal. He swings the bat well and he did what he does but, other than that we were on top of it.”
Devers on a roll
Rafael Devers might not want to leave Toronto after the series he’s had. The young third baseman hit his third home run in as many games in the top of the eighth inning, an opposite-field shot that measured an even 400 feet. It was Devers’ sixth home run of the season.
Devers became just one of six Red Sox players to homer in three straight games at the age of 22 or younger, joining Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Carl Yastrzemski, Rico Petrocelli and Jim Tabor.