That was another losing proposition, as Granderson crushed his fourth career walk-off homer to give the Blue Jays a 4-3 victory in 10 innings on Tuesday night over the Red Sox, who have now lost three in a row after starting the season with a sizzling 17-2 stretch.
The culprit during the losing streak? The offense, which had been mostly silent until a stirring rally from two runs down against Jays closer Roberto Osuna in the top of the ninth.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth and down by a run, Brock Holt went to the opposite field for an RBI single that tied the game. The bases could have stayed loaded for star leadoff hitter Mookie Betts, but third-base coach Carlos Febles pushed the envelope on the hit by Holt and also waved Eduardo Nunez around from second.
That backfired, as Granderson made a perfect throw home to nail Nunez by five to 10 feet and send the game to extras.
"It was an aggressive send. The way we've been swinging the bat the last three games, we haven't got a big hit in those situations," said Febles. "We've been challenging Granderson the last three or four years. That's based on reports. Why not take a shot? Unfortunately, he made a good throw. That, to me, was a time for me to be aggressive and try and make something go."
Febles, who is in his first year as a Major League coach and his 12th year in the Red Sox's organization, had support from the clubhouse and the manager's office.
As Febles was conducting his interview with a small group of reporters, Hanley Ramirez walked by and said, "Two outs, you've got to send him."
"Two outs, you know. The guy has to make the play," said manager Alex Cora. "It's an aggressive one, but you have to challenge Granderson. We've been challenging Granderson for more than five years. He made a perfect throw and threw him out. We didn't score for eight innings, so it's a line drive, and he charged it, and he made a good throw. Tip your hat to Granderson. He made a nice play."
There was still time to win the game. Joe Kelly, who had come on in the eighth, threw a second scoreless frame in the ninth. The Red Sox were able to turn the ball over to Kimbrel in extras.
Kimbrel hadn't pitched in six days, but he looked sharp when he struck out Devon Travis. Kimbrel missed on the first two fastballs to Granderson to start the at-bat and had to come back with heat. Granderson was ready for it, and he smoked the 96.5-mph pitch deep into the second deck in right to end it.
"You talk about time off and things like that, at the end of the day, those are just excuses," Kimbrel said. "And when you have a chance to win the game or keep the game going, I've got to do my job and I didn't do that today."
It was the first time Kimbrel has been scored on in nine appearances this season.
"He's unbelievable, he's the best closer in the game," said Red Sox right-hander Rick Porcello. "That's baseball, it's going to happen from time to time."
Porcello (1.93 ERA) pitched well for the fifth straight start, giving up three runs and three hits over seven innings while walking three and striking out nine.
And for the third straight game, Boston was shut down by the opposing starter. This time, it was lefty J.A. Happ, who carved the visitors up inning by inning, allowing four hits and a run while walking none and striking out 10.
Dating back to 2015, it was the eighth straight start that Happ has limited the Sox to two earned runs or fewer.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Devers picks wrong base: With runners at the corners and nobody out in the second, Kevin Pillar hit a chopper to Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers. Given how early it was in the game, what Boston needed most at the time was an out. But Devers forced a throw home when he had no realistic play at the plate, and Steve Pearce scored easily. The Jays went on to score three runs in that inning.
"Bad decision," said Cora. "But then, a 21-year-old made an adjustment. He gets the next one and he makes the play. So he's playing great defense. Just one of those decisions, sometimes you want something to happen, make something happen [for] the pitcher. Get that out. Avoid the run. But right there, he should have gone to first base."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS With the Red Sox already down, 3-0, in the bottom of the fifth, Betts prevented the deficit from widening when he made a sweet diving grab in the gap in right-center to take away extra bases from Teoscar Hernandez. Granderson had just led off the inning with a double and definitely would have scored if the ball had dropped. According to Statcast™, it was a four-star grab in which Betts had to cover 53 feet in 3.5 seconds, giving him a 31-percent catch probability.
"The kid in Oakland used a changeup. Here, he got a lot of fastballs early on, then he got the slider, breaking ball, slider," Cora said. "So he'll be fine. I do think he's going to hit lefties. It's not an issue. It's just a matter of him making the adjustment. He has a good swing. The head of the bat stays through the zone for him not to hit lefties, so we'll keep working at it and he'll be still getting his at-bats up there."
HE SAID IT "Those two guys [Porcello and Happ], that was a pitching clinic, because they do it in different ways. They go down. They go up. They use their fastballs. Happ was tremendous, but we were able to fight it, fight it, fight it and we put ourselves in a position to win the game. It just didn't happen." -- Cora
UP NEXT Eduardo Rodriguez will try to keep his momentum going on Wednesday. The lefty allowed three runs over 12 innings in his past two starts, both wins. Lifetime against the Blue Jays, Rodriguez is 1-3 with a 5.67 ERA. At Rogers Centre, he is 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA. Aaron Sanchez (1-2, 3.86 ERA) will start for Toronto. First pitch is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. ET.