TORONTO — If that towering home run in the ninth inning gets Mike Napoli going, the Red Sox will look back on Wednesday night's 4-3 loss against the Blue Jays with no regret.
A opposite-field blast with two outs in the ninth inning to tie the game should boost Napoli's confidence. Manager John Farrell had dropped him into the seventh spot of the order because of a protracted slump. As he came to the plate, Napoli had six hits in his previous 53 at-bats with 25 strikeouts.
Brett Cecil’s second pitch was a sinker that stayed up and Napoli hit a long home run to right field, his 15th of the season. The shot snapped an 0-for-16 skid — with 10 strikeouts— for Napoli.
The Sox were so excited that Dustin Pedroia gave Napoli a head butt when he returned to the dugout and David Ortiz ruffled his fingers through the first baseman’s bushy beard.
“It felt good to do something like that, to come through in a situation. Obviously I’ve been struggling a little bit,” Napoli said. “Keep grinding, got a pitch I could drive. ... I felt good about my approach and where I was at. I should be able to get out here tomorrow and try to repeat. Do the same drills and try to stay comfortable."
Napoli, for all his peaks and valleys, maintains a calm disposition. He doesn't take bad at-bats into the field, either.
"It's what we do. You can't get too high; can't get too low," he said. "You've got to stay with that even line. It felt good to hit that tonight, it definitely did. But it's over with and we didn't win."
Outside of Napoli's home run, it was a rather tepid effort for the Sox. Consider:
• They committed three errors, two on one play in the third inning that allowed Rajai Davis to race around the bases. It looked like a bad Little League game.
• They were 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position and left five runners on base after Napoli's home run.
• Toronto starter Esmil Rogers went six innings and allowed one run. This was a pitcher with an 8.50 ERA in his previous seven starts and was banished to the bullpen. He started only because Josh Johnson went on the disabled list.
• Jon Lester wasn't bad. But of the six hits he allowed, five were doubles.
• Toronto traded their second baseman, Emilio Bonafacio, to Kansas City before the game and started two players who were called from Triple A.
• Ortiz, who belted a long home run earlier, inexplicably tried to bunt to lead off the ninth with the Sox down by two runs. He tapped the ball two feet and was thrown out at first.
The Sox are 4-5 on a road trip through Houston, Kansas City and Toronto. They have a chance to go home with a win on Thursday.
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