TORONTO -- One misplaced pitch that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hammered for a three-run homer wasn’t going to spoil Brayan Bello’s latest impressive start, not to mention his breakthrough season.
Though 2023 has been disappointing for the Red Sox (74-74) as a whole, the same can’t be said for Bello, who has been a ray of sunshine amid the other flaws on the club.
That three-run homer that Guerrero hit on a first-pitch fastball that caught too much plate in the third inning led the postseason-hunting Blue Jays to a 3-0 victory over the Red Sox on Friday night at Rogers Centre.
It was the only blemish for Bello on a night when he went six innings while allowing four hits and notching a career-high 10 strikeouts. He generated 16 swings and misses.
“Yeah, if you take away the pitch to Vladdy, my outing was great,” said Bello. “I was able to locate my pitches where I wanted to. I think overall, it was a great outing for me.”
Bello’s undoing was the eight-pitch walk to Bo Bichette in the bottom of the third that allowed Guerrero to come to the plate with two on and two outs.
“I believe so,” Bello said. “I think he saw a lot of pitches. I just wanted to get ahead of the count with Vladdy, and he jumped on that first pitch. The pitch was supposed to be outside, but I stayed a little bit open, and the ball went straight to the middle.”
This marked the third straight start that Bello (12-9, 3.71 ERA) allowed three runs in one inning and none in any other frame.
What that shows is a maturity and a resilience Bello didn’t have last year, when things would snowball on him.
At the same time, Bello would like to prevent those crooked-run innings from happening.
“Yeah, in the past few outings, all the runs have come in only one inning,” Bello said. “So I’ll look back to the videos to see what’s going on and what’s missing in that specific inning and that specific time to try to improve it to the next outing. That’s what I'm gonna do this time. I'm gonna try to improve for my next outing. “
As Red Sox manager Alex Cora watched the 29-year-old José Berríos stifle his team, he couldn’t help but think back to when Toronto’s righty was Bello’s age.
“He's going to keep getting better,” Cora said of the 24-year-old Bello. “Very similar to their guy, right? We saw Berríos early in his career with the Twins, kind of like struggling to get to five, struggling to get to six. And, you know, [tonight], that’s probably the best I've seen him throughout the years.
“José was a kid when he got with the Twins, and now he's one of the dudes over there with the Jays. So hopefully, we can keep working with Brayan, keep making him better, attack the rest of the season the right way and do certain things in the offseason to be ready for next year.”
Bello seems primed to be a top-of-the-rotation starter for the Red Sox for years to come. Now, Boston just needs to get him some more support in the rotation, something the club has clearly lacked this year.
Even with Friday’s defeat, the Sox are 17-9 when Bello takes the ball this season.
“Yeah, when you look back a year ago and when you see where I am right now, I think I’ve improved in a lot of areas,” Bello said. “One of the things I want to improve on is to allow fewer runs, but I think that’s going to come with time. Overall, if you took a look at where I was a year ago and where I am right now, I'm in a really good position, and I'm happy where I am right now.”