Big payback as Blue Jays humble Red Sox at Fenway
Blue Jays left fielder Melky Cabrera (left) celebrates his home run against the Red Sox with centrefielder Anthony Gose (right) during the sixth inning in Boston on Monday, July 28, 2014. (Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports)
Was it just a week ago that the Blue Jays season seemed in such dire peril after being embarrassed 14-1 by the Boston Red Sox at home?
Six victories in seven games later and that low point of the season is a vague and distant memory, especially after the Jays laid a 14-1 pounding of their own on Boston at Fenway Park on Monday night, handing the Red Sox their 10th loss in 14 games.
Since the end of that debacle at Rogers Centre a week ago Monday, the Jays have beaten the Red Sox four times and outscored them 35-8 in the process. They have broken the 17-game Yankee Stadium curse and even won a series in the Bronx. At one point during Monday’s game, after they had scored nine runs in the top of the sixth, Toronto had scored 24 consecutive runs against Boston pitching without a response.
“It was a good one to be on the right side, just as it was for them in Toronto,” said manager John Gibbons. “(R.A.) Dickey was great and we came out swinging. Good way to start the series.”
And, wonder of wonders, even the Blue Jays front office snapped out of its long slumber to make a trade, albeit a minor one, that brings Kansas City infielder Danny Valencia in exchange for catcher Erik Kratz and pitcher Liam Hendriks.
With this win, Toronto moved to within 21/2 games of the idle Baltimore Orioles, who sit atop the American League East and playoff hopes that had seemed to be on life support are now showing some vital signs, all despite injuries to three of their best offensive players.
Melky Cabrera broke a windshield in the parking lot behind the Green Monster pic.twitter.com/07ve1GHpLe— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) July 29, 2014
Melky Cabrera was at the centre of all things offensive Monday, belting two home runs, one from each side of the plate, to account for five runs batted in.
“I think the all-star break did him some good, five days off to rest,” said Gibbons of Cabrera. “He’s out there every day and he was tiring out as were a lot of the players. From the looks of us right now, I think the break did us all some good.”
Light-hitting Ryan Goins had his best day as a big-leaguer with four hits in five at-bats, driving in four more runs.
“It’s one day,” said Goins. “One day doesn’t make a career, doesn’t make a season. I’ll come back tomorrow and prepare the same way. I went down to triple-A and cleared my head. My mind is a little more free and not so much going on. I’m just trying to contribute any way I can.”
“Ever since he’s been here Ryan has been great,” said Gibbons. “He was good for us last September and we gave him the job in the spring. He struggled a little bit and went back down and played well, didn’t drop his head. Everybody knows what he can do defensively but he’s really swinging the bat right now.”
This offensive laser show was a pleasant departure for knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who had pitched well in his previous nine starts but had only a 2-6 record to show for that period, largely because his offence had scored just 21 runs in those nine games.
He responded with one of his better performances of the year, breezing through seven innings, allowing just three hits, a walk and one run while striking out a season-high 10 batters for his ninth win.
“I kind of wish I could divide (the runs) up over three starts,” said Dickey. “That was fine. It’s fun to be able to go out and enjoy your craft. I almost wished we had scored only two runs tonight because I had that kind of knuckleball tonight and save this outing for when I give up five.”
For the fourth time in their last six games, the Blue Jays scored multiple runs in the first inning to grab the early upper hand. Jose Reyes walked to lead off the game and then Cabrera hit a bomb into the Red Sox bullpen about 400 feet away in right-centre to take lead 2-0.
That’s the way it stayed until the fourth inning when Goins drilled a two-run, one-out single past a drawn-in second baseman Dustin Pedroia, scoring Colby Rasmus and Munenori Kawasaki.
Meanwhile, Dickey was dealing. He erased the first six men he faced before Stephen Drew doubled down the right field line leading off the third. Drew was eventually stranded at third base when Dickey got Xander Bogaerts on a grounder, struck out David Ross and induced an inning-ending flyball to right by Brock Holt.
The Red Sox didn’t get their second hit until Shane Victorino’s infield single with one out in the fifth but he, too, was stranded when Dickey got Drew to line out to first and Bogaerts to ground out to third.
Dickey is changing speeds more now with his knuckler, from 78 mph at the top end, down to 64 mph.
“I’m always trying to improve,” he said. “I’m never going to have it all figured out, nor do I claim to. But at the same time I feel good with the way we’re moving the pitch back and forth, front to back as far as changing speeds goes. I feel like I’m in the strike zone a lot and getting good movement.”
Toronto blew Boston’s doors off in the sixth, sending 14 men to the plate to score nine runs.
Goins drove in his third run of the game with a double off the wall to start the deluge. Reyes hit a sacrifice fly, then Cabrera hit his second home run of the game — one from each side of the plate — to add three more to the tally. Rasmus had an RBI double, Kawasaki a two-run double and Goins drove in the final run of the inning with a groundball out.
Buchholz was responsible for the first three runs that inning and he left the game, having allowed seven runs on seven hits and four walks in five-plus innings. Felix Doubront faced 10 men and was tagged with six runs on six hits — including Cabrera’s homer — and two walks in 2/3 of an inning.
David Ortiz broke the shutout in the bottom of the sixth with a single flared into left field that scored catcher David Ross from second base.