Red Sox

Red Sox blow late lead vs. Blue Jays with unvaccinated closer Tanner Houck sidelined

Tyler Danish and Hansel Robles failed to close late.

Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays' Vladimir Guerrero Jr., left, and Bo Bichette celebrate Guerrero's single that drove in the winning run against the Boston Red Sox. Jon Blacker/The Canadian Press via AP

Without Tanner Houck for a second straight important game, Alex Cora’s hands were tied a bit late as the Red Sox faced the Blue Jays on Tuesday.

The Red Sox took a 5-4 lead into the bottom of the ninth after Tyler Danish pitched a clean eighth inning, and — with the closer Houck back in Boston due to his unvaccinated status and Canada’s preventative COVID-19 measures still in place — Cora put Danish back on the mound.

Danish promptly gave up a single to Alejandro Kirk. He then walked George Springer. Cora jogged out to the mound and replaced Danish with Robles, but the Blue Jays recorded a pair of run-scoring singles — one each by Bo Bichette and Vlad Guerrero Jr. — and the Blue Jays won their second game in a row to open their three-game set against the Red Sox.


“That’s the way I saw it,” Cora told reporters afterward. “That’s the way I managed the game. I’m the manager here, and I decided to go with [Danish] for two innings.”

The Red Sox lost their second straight game after winning seven in a row. As noted by The Boston Globe‘s Alex Speier, they are yet to win a series against a divisional opponent — a streak that will continue after Tuesday’s loss guaranteed the series to the Blue Jays.

Houck and Jarren Duran both were forced to miss the trip to Toronto due to their vaccination status. Houck in particular has drawn sharp criticism from Red Sox media and fans for missing games.

“Most richly-deserved loss ever,” Globe columnist Dan Shaugnessy wrote on Twitter. “Anti-vax Sox closer is back in Boston enjoying personal freedom, while Sox pen blows 5-4 lead in the 9th.”

Reliever John Schreiber recorded just one frame and threw 10 pitches as Cora tried to maneuver his way through nine innings.

“I mean, we’ve got a game tomorrow,” Cora said. “He’s our best reliever right now. [Danish] did a good job. It was a bunch of righties, and he got good stuff. We tried to get 27 [outs] there, and we didn’t finish it.”


The Red Sox now trail the Blue Jays by half a game in the standings, as they began their crucial stretch before the All-Star break with a pair of discordant losses.


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