BOSTON -- Exactly six hours after Eduardo Rodriguez offered up the first pitch of Tuesday night's game vs. Toronto, Mookie Betts began sprinting, spurred by a short flair into center field off the bat of Hanley Ramirez and the few remaining souls at Fenway Park who sat through 19 innings
BOSTON -- Exactly six hours after Eduardo Rodriguez offered up the first pitch of Tuesday night's game vs. Toronto, Mookie Betts began sprinting, spurred by a short flair into center field off the bat of Hanley Ramirez and the few remaining souls at Fenway Park who sat through 19 innings of baseball.
After lacing a leadoff double in the bottom of the frame, Betts got on his horse when Ramirez followed him and didn't stop until he had put an end to a marathon affair with the Blue Jays in which Boston rallied in the ninth to push extras and continued on into the night thanks to a Jackie Bradley Jr. rifle throw to home plate to eliminate Jose Bautista on a double play in the 11th, before winning, 3-2, on Wednesday morning.
"At the time, I think things just kind of happened quickly," said Betts, who also made a terrific diving catch in the third and scored the tying run in the ninth. "I wasn't necessarily looking around to see or anything. I just turned around and saw that [Kevin] Pillar was on a full sprint in, and I just pretty much said, 'I don't think he's going to catch it.' And I trusted my instincts."
Coupled with the Yankees' loss to Baltimore, Boston improved its lead in the American League East to 3 1/2 games over New York. In terms of innings, Tuesday's game was the longest this season, eclipsing the Cubs' 5-4 win over the Yankees in 18 innings on May 7.
"Every game is important," Rodriguez said. "We need to win the game, whether [the Yankees] won or lost. That's all that matters. To be in first place, you've got to keep winning games."
Trailing by two with only three hits heading into the ninth, Boston managed to parlay two hits into two runs, forcing extras behind fielder's-choice RBIs from Ramirez and Mitch Moreland.
A strong outing from Marco Estrada went by the wayside in the process as the Blue Jays starter tossed seven scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and three walks while striking out three.
"It's draining," Estrada said. "You're out there, everybody's trying really hard to win this game, and when you come up short, it's frustrating. I don't think I've ever played in a 19-inning game, and I didn't even have to play the whole game. I just played seven innings. I feel bad for the guys that were out there for the entire game. It's hard. It's hard to take a loss like this."
Rodriguez, who has not picked up a win in the 10 starts since returning from the disabled list, was also solid, allowing two runs on six hits, striking out eight in six innings.
The Red Sox got 13 scoreless innings -- a franchise record for the bullpen -- from 11 relievers while Toronto used six bodies from the 'pen who were equal in their task until Chris Rowley faltered in his fourth inning by giving up a leadoff double to Betts and then Ramirez's game-winning bloop.
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A Teoscar Hernandez sacrifice fly in the second inning got the Blue Jays on the board early, and Kendrys Morales' second home run in as many nights gave Toronto a 2-0 lead in the sixth.
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The Blue Jays' previous longest game of the season was 15 innings against Boston back on July 18, while the Red Sox's previous high came just three days before that, when they went 16 vs. the Yankees.
"There's not a lot to say," Blue Jays acting manager DeMarlo Hale said. "Talking about 19 innings, grinding, battling, emotions, playing the game the right way. There's nothing to say to them. We're back at it tomorrow. Come in here and see how we are physically. We won't do much on the field. Get some treatment and we have an off-day on Thursday, so that should be good for us. I'm proud of them. They went out there and battled their [butts] off, and it's just unfortunate we were on the losing end."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Morales mashes monster shot: Morales continued his assault on the Red Sox with a sixth-inning moon shot that gave Toronto a little breathing room. Leading off the frame, the DH lifted an 0-2 fastball towards the Green Monster, leaving it in the first row of seats. His 27th home run of the season, and second of the series, was projected to travel 361 feet according to Statcast™ and left the bat with an exit velocity of 97.9 mph.
Long-arm of JBJ lays down law: The Blue Jays were on the verge of taking the lead in the 11th inning, after Bautista worked a leadoff walk and advanced to third behind a sac bunt from Kevin Pillar and an infield single from Michael Saunders, who was pinch-hitting for Darwin Barney. With one out, Justin Smoak lofted a fly ball to center field where Bradley caught it and came up firing home from 279 feet away, nailing Bautista to end the inning with a double play.
"I knew it was going to be a do-or-die situation," Bradley said. "So, I tried to line it up and make a good throw. At the distance I was, I wanted to get some momentum; I wanted to be quick and also accurate and put something on the ball."
"An outstanding job by every guy that came to the mound. Whether it was [Brandon] Workman's two innings of work, at the time Austin Maddox, who showed great poise, power stuff, good changeup. Then it continued on. Every guy that walked out to the mound did exactly what we needed them to do, with their backs against the wall having to make key pitches with men in scoring positions." -- Red Sox manager John Farrell
"I definitely have confidence in him. You don't get 35 saves not being good. He's an All-Star, and he's a strong character young man. You all go through some struggles at this level at times, and I'm sure he's going to bounce back." -- Hale, on closer Roberto Osuna, who picked up his 10th blown save and seventh since July 18
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Osuna allowed two earned runs in the ninth inning, and his 10 blown saves are the most in the Major Leagues and the third most in Blue Jays franchise history. Duane Ward had 12 in 1989 and Joey McLaughlin had 11 in '83.
Tuesday's contest matched the longest game in Blue Jays' franchise history. Toronto also went 19 innings on July 1, 2016, vs Cleveland as well as on Aug. 10, 2014, vs. Detroit.
BETTS IN SHOW
Betts made a terrific diving play on Richard Urena's drive to right-center field to lead off the third, laying out to snatch the sinking liner just above the grass. The right fielder traveled 60 feet in only 3.5 seconds on a ball with just a 6 percent catch probability, making it Betts' second five-star catch of 2017.
"He's such an instinctual player and is extremely confident," Farrell said of Betts. "You're looking at a complete player. His entire skill set was on display tonight."
Blue Jays: Right-hander Joe Biagini (3-9, 5.01 ERA) will take the mound for Toronto when this series comes to an end on Wednesday night, with first pitch scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET. Biagini is coming off arguably the best start of his career as he didn't allow a run over seven innings while striking out 10 vs. Baltimore.
Red Sox: Right-hander Doug Fister (4-7, 4.19 ERA) will get the start for the hosts on Wednesday. Since returning to the rotation after a stint in the bullpen, Fister has been one of the Sox's more consistent starters, going 4-2 with a 3.05 ERA in his last six starts. In two starts vs. the Blue Jays this season, he is 0-1 with a 4.82 ERA.
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Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.
Craig Forde is a contributor to MLB.com based in Boston and covered the Red Sox on Tuesday.