Sports Baseball

BUFFERY

Blue Jays fight off stubborn Red Sox, win series opener

By Steve Buffery, Toronto Sun

Jose Bautista high fives Kendrys Morales of the Toronto Blue Jays after hitting a solo home run against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Sept. 4, 2017. (Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Jose Bautista high fives Kendrys Morales of the Toronto Blue Jays after hitting a solo home run against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Sept. 4, 2017. (Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

BOSTON - 

Like a creature from outer space in a Hollywood movie, the Red Sox kept getting knocked down by the Blue Jays and then getting up again.

The Jays continually grabbed leads at Fenway Park on Monday night, only to see the home side chip away. 3-0 became 3-2. 7-2 became 7-4.

But in the end, the Jays, on the strength of home runs by Kendrys Morales, Jose Bautista, Raffy Lopez and Justin Smoak, were able to out-last the AL East-leading Sox and breeze to a 10-4 victory.

The win was sweet redemption for Toronto starter J.A. Happ, who lost against the Red Sox last Wednesday after leaving the game tied at 1-1 after six innings. The Sox poured on six runs over the final three innings of that game off the bullpen, giving Rick Porcello the victory.

Happ lasted 5.2 innings on Monday and gave up only one earned run, though he had to work hard, throwing 105 pitches. He has allowed just two earned runs in 11.2 innings over his last two starts, both against Boston. Porcello took the loss this time.

“They’re a team that make you work,” Happ said. “They see a strike and then they battle you the whole at-bat, especially when you turn that line-up over, second, third, fourth time facing those guys.

“Today I felt pretty good with the two-seam fastball, we tried to use that down in the zone, tried to get some ground balls, which I felt like early on we did a good of that,” the lefty added. “Just mixing it up enough. Try not to get too much in your head with that Green Monster in left field. Just try to stay aggressive, get ahead.”

Steve Pearce picked up three hits for Toronto, including a double, while Lopez has three homers and six RBI over his past five games, batting .353 in that time.

“It was pretty awesome,” Lopez said of his two-run smash in the sixth. “My first year I went to school in Boston so to come back here to do that was a lot of fun.”

“I thought we played a pretty good ball game,” added DeMarlo Hale, the Jays’ acting manager. “This park is one that sometimes you never get enough runs. So whenever you can tack on runs, it definitely helps.”

Morales hit his first inning homer with Pearce at third and Smoak at first on a 1-0 pitch, to deep right field. He is now tied for second in MLB in home runs by a switch hitter with 26, with Francisco Lindor.

Boston third baseman Eduardo Nunez hit a two-run, two-out single in the second to bring the Red Sox to within one, both runs unearned. Bautista’s home run in the third marked his first round-tripper since Aug. 11.

The Jays poured it on in the sixth, starting when Ryan Goins hit a one-out single to right. He scored when the next batter, Darwin Barney, smacked a double off the Monster in left. Lopez chased Boston starter Rick Porcello out of the game with his two-run shot to right field.

Happ was pulled with two out in the sixth with runners at first and third, for Dominic Leone. The first batter Leone faced, Nunez, smacked a single to right, scoring Christian Vazquez from third, making the score 7-3.

Boston kept nibbling at Toronto’s lead. In the seventh, pinch hitter Mitch Moreland hit a grounder to second off Aaron Loup to score Andrew Benintendi. Ryan Tepera came in with one out and struck out Xander Bogaerts and got pinch hitter Jackie Bradley Jr. to ground out to third.

Smoak’s home run to centre with two out in the ninth marked his team-leading 37th of the season. Morales then smacked a double to the gap in the right centre to score Bautista for Toronto’s ninth run. Barnes gave up a single to Kevin Pillar off the Monster to score Morales.