Daisuke came in looking for his 50th win in a Red Sox uniform, and pitched well enough to get it, but after running into an unexpectedly tough pitching matchup, the Sox used a late rally to come away with a 5-1 win over the Blue Jays.
Matsuzaka went 5.2 innings, giving up just one run on six hits with one walk and five strikeouts, dueling with Toronto’s stop-gap starter Aaron Laffey, who tossed six scoreless innings but saw his start spoiled.
Laffey retired 12 straight batters after giving up a leadoff single to Mike Aviles. But after that, the Sox pounded out six extra-base hits, inclduing two doubles each from David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez. Ortiz knocked both of his off the Monster, nearly identical shots in the fifth and the eight.
After the Sox fell behind 1-0 in the first, Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a home run in the seventh that sparked a two-out rally.
Alfredo Aceves came on in the ninth despite the four-run lead and sent down the side in order.
The Sox have won eight of their last 10, and since starting the season 4-10 in their first 14 games, they have the second best record in baseball through the next 60 (35-25), second only to the Yankees.
Bottom of the eight, Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 1: David Ortiz shot another, nearly identical, double off the Wall. Cody Ross followed up with a single, and Adrian Gonzalez capped it off with a double to left center (his 24th double of the season, he entered the game tied for third) to plate Ortiz and give the Sox an insurance run. They got another on a Will Middlebrooks sacrifice to make things comfortable going into the ninth.
Top of the eighth, Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 1:Vicente Padilla came one in the eight and tossed a 1-2-3 eight. It gave him a 10-game scoreless streak, the longest of his career, setting things up for Alfredo Aceves in the ninth.
Bottom of the seventh, Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 1:The same pitcher who struggled through 11 Triple-A starts in Las Vegas before being called up by the Blue Jays two weeks ago just threw six scoreless innings.
Two batters after he left, his start went up in smoke.
John Farrell cut Laffey off before he reached that 85 pitch limit (he threw 82). The 27-year-old gave up just three hits and walked two batters, striking two out as well.
Jason Frasor came on in relief and after sitting down Gonzalez and Middlebrroks, Jarrod Saltalamacchia smacked a thigh-high fastball over the Monster to tie it up.
It was his 14th home run of the season (first in the bigs among catchers).
After such a great start from Laffey, the Jays needed three pitchers just to get out of the seventh.
Farrell called on Luis Perez, who got tagged for a double by Ryan Kalish. He then called on David Pauley, who plunked his former Red Sox farmhand Daniel Nava (hitting for Brent Lillibridge) to make it first and second, then walked Aviles to load it up.
All with two outs.
That brought Dustin Pedroia to the plate, and he cased in with a single up that middle that scored Kalisih and Nava before Aviles was tagged out, dangling between second and third.
How hot is Dustin Pedoria? In his last four games, he’s 7 for 15 with four RBIs.
Bottom of the sixth, Blue Jays 1, Red Sox 0: Rajia Davis’s arm is the reason the Sox are still scoreless.
With Dustin Pedroia on first, David Ortiz launched a fly ball that Davis had to play off the Monster. Davis didn’t field it terribly cleanly, but he came up gunning.
Pedroia got the sign from Jerry Royster to head home, and Jays catcher Jeff Mathis had to come up the third base line to get Davis’s throw, but he had time enough to swipe Pedroia in the back to wipe the opportunity away.
It was his 25th career outfield assist.
Top of the sixth, Blue Jays 1, Red Sox 0: Daisuke’s 5.2 innings were more than solid (six hits, and earned run and just one walk against five strikeouts).
The at-bat that did him in as a two-out duel with Yunel Escobar, who worked him out with over eight pitches, ending with a low rope down the third baseline. If it hadn’t hit the fence in foul territory, it would have been extra bases and an RBI for Escobar. Instead, he held up for a single and Edwin Encarnacion held up at third.
Daisuke was lifted at that point for Scott Atchison, who got the Sox out of the inning with a ground ball in the hole to short that Aviles made a great play on.
Bottom of the fifth, Blue Jays 1, Red Sox 0: Before the game John Farrell said Laffey was on roughly an 85-pitch limit (It’s the first start since 2010 the stop-gap starter). He’s been cursing most of the night, but when he got up to 52 pitches throwing to Jarrod Saltalamacchia with one out his catcher Jeff Mathis took a trip to the mound.
He came back and threw a curveball down and away on 3-and-1 that Saltalamacchia chased. Saltalamacchia fouled off a slider and a change up on 3-and-2. Then finally got him to bounce out to third on a fastball.
It was one of his longest at-bats of the night, and it was still just eight pitches. He got out of the inning unharmed, sitting on 65 pitches, and the Blue Jays have no one up in the bullpen.
Top of the fifth, Blue Jays 1, Red Sox 0: Daisuke’s dueling with Laffey, He ended the inning by getting Colby Rasmus to strike out chasing a fastball. This is the Rasmus who came in to the game 7 for his last 14. He’s currently 0 for 3.
Bottom of the fourth, Blue Jays 1, Red Sox 0: The last time Aaron Laffey faced the Red Sox was Oct. 3, 2009 here at Fenway and he barely survived two innings. He gave up eight runs on seven his, got smacked for a pair of homers in an 11-6 loss.
He’s now retired 12 straight.
Top of the fourth, Blue Jays 1, Red Sox 0:Daisuke rung up Kelly Johnson for his third strikeout of the night and fed Yunel Escobar some high heat before getting him to fly out but Rajai Davis broke up a string of seven straight retired batters with a single up the middle (it was Davis’s second single of the night). It did nothing to derail Daisuke, who got Adam Lind to fly out to left.
Daisuke threw 11 pitches in the inning, two more than he threw to Brett Lawrie in the game’s first at-bat.
Third inning, Blue Jays 1, Red Sox 0: After Mike Avile’s single to lead the game off, Aaron Laffey’s retired nine straight.
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First inning, Blue Jays 1, Red Sox 0: It didn’t take long for Bobby Valentine to make a trip to the mound to visit Daisuke Matsuzaka.
To be preceise: A nine pitch at-bat with Brett Lawrie that ended in a leadoff double, a strange fielder’s choice on a Colby Rasmus ground ball to short, on which Mike Aviles tried to throw out Lawrie at third, and an RBI single by Edwin Encarnacion two batters later that was exacerbated by a Will Middlebrooks throwing error.
Pregame:After a storm that delayed last night’s 9-6 loss to the Blue Jays by two hours and kept the players at the ballpark until well past midnight, the Sox are back at it, hoping the weather cooperates long enough even up the series.
Some positive signs have already come out, from Jacoby Ellsbury taking the field before the game to swing the bat, throw the ball around, and shag fly balls. He could be designated hitting as soon as Friday in Fort Myers along with Carl Crawford. Meanwhile, Clay Buchholz is said to be stable, according to manager Bobby Valentine, who was still skittish about explaining the details of the stomach illness that’s landed him on the 15-day disabled list.