The Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays once again came up with strong offensive showings in their series opener at Fenway Park.
Two home runs from David Ortiz weren't enough for the Red Sox (38-35) in Monday's opener, as Jose Bautista , Colby Rasmus and J.P. Arencibia each hit two-run blasts to lead Toronto to a 9-6 victory. The Blue Jays (38-35), winners of seven of 10, pulled into a tie with the Red Sox for fourth place in the AL East, 6 1/2 back of division-leading New York.
Toronto has plated six or more runs in seven of nine while Boston has scored at least six in seven of eight. The Red Sox are 9-3 since falling three games below .500 June 11.
Bautista, Rasmus and Edwin Encarnacion have all been locked in to lead the Blue Jays' charge. Bautista, the major league leader with 24 home runs, has five homers and 10 RBIs in his last seven games, Rasmus is hitting .410 with five home runs and 15 RBIs in his last nine and Encarnacion is batting .357 with four homers in his last seven."The top of our order has been swinging good of late," manager John Farrell said. "The way Jose, Edwin and Rasmus have been going. ... They're swinging the bats well for us."
Ortiz and Will Middlebrooks are doing the same for the Red Sox.
Ortiz is batting .324 with six homers and 14 RBIs in his last 10 games, and has tied Ted Williams for the club record with 37 multihomer games. The seven-time All-Star has 398 career homers, which ties Dale Murphy for 51st all-time, and made it 11 straight seasons of at least 20 with his pair Monday."It's unbelievable," said Middlebrooks, who is hitting .550 with three homers, four doubles and 10 RBIs in his last seven games. "I thought the guy hits everything hard."
Ortiz and Middlebrooks now look to rough up Laffey (0-0, 3.00 ERA), whose insertion in Toronto's newly arranged rotation is somewhat unexpected.
Laffey has appeared in four games out of the bullpen and hasn't pitched more than three innings. Prior to being called up from the minors June 12, the left-hander went 3-5 with a 4.81 ERA in 11 starts for Triple-A Las Vegas.
Laffey has made 49 starts in his 130 major league games, the last coming July 19, 2010, with Cleveland. He made his lone start against Boston on Oct. 3, 2009, when he was shelled for eight runs in two innings of an 11-6 loss with the Indians.
Matsuzaka (0-2, 6.06) has fared much better against Toronto, but continuing that success hardly seems like a sure thing considering he's labored through three starts since returning from Tommy John surgery.
Against Miami on Thursday, the right-hander gave up four runs and four hits over 5 1-3 innings in Boston's 6-5 win. Five of the seven runs he's allowed in his last two outings have come in the first inning.
Matsuzaka lost his first start against the Blue Jays in April 2007, but since then he is 7-0 with a 3.50 ERA with the Red Sox winning all 11 meetings. In his lone start against Toronto last season, he allowed a hit and a walk in seven scoreless innings of a 9-1 victory.
Bautista is 2 for 16 without a walk against Matsuzaka.
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|June 16, 2012||Drew Hutchison||15-Day DL||Right UCL sprain|
|June 14, 2012||Kyle Drabek||15-Day DL||Sprained right elbow ligament|
|June 14, 2012||Kyle Drabek||60-Day DL||Torn right elbow ligament|
|June 13, 2012||Brandon Morrow||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|June 12, 2012||Brandon Morrow||Day-to-Day||Strained left oblique|
|June 07, 2012||Rajai Davis||Day-to-Day||Jammed left middle finger|
|Boston Red Sox|
|June 20, 2012||Clay Buchholz||15-Day DL||Gastro-intestinal illness|
|June 19, 2012||Dustin Pedroia||Day-to-Day||Left game - right thumb|
|June 18, 2012||Scott Podsednik||15-Day DL||Left groin injury|
|June 17, 2012||Scott Podsednik||Day-to-Day||Left game - left groin discomfort|
|June 17, 2012||Ryan Sweeney||15-Day DL||Toe discomfort|
|June 12, 2012||Josh Beckett||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
BOSTON (AP) -- Jarrod Saltalamacchia gave the Boston Red Sox a little momentum, and that was all it took to topple the Toronto Blue Jays.
The slugger hit a tying solo homer with two out in the seventh inning and the Red Sox rallied to beat the Blue Jays 5-1 on Tuesday night.
Saltalamacchia's line drive to left off reliever Jason Frasor just cleared the Green Monster for his 14th homer, tying it at 1. The Red Sox then loaded the bases on a double, a hit batter and a walk before Dustin Pedroia drove in two with a single up the middle.
Saltalamacchia is already closing in on his career high of 16 homers, set two years ago when he shared catching duties with former captain Jason Varitek .
"He's playing a confident brand of baseball because he believes in himself and he's a talented player," manager Bobby Valentine said. "Some things that might have haunted his past just seem to be gone and he's just playing the game of baseball. Looks good doing it."
Adrian Gonzalez and Will Middlebrooks each drove in a run in the eighth and Boston's bullpen completed a solid start by Daisuke Matsuzaka , helping the Red Sox win for the eighth time in 10 games.
"I feel like any given night, it's someone different," said Mike Aviles , who drew a rare walk to load the bases in the seventh for Pedroia.
"Every night you never know who's going to be the hero and that makes the game intriguing for us."
The rally spoiled a strong performance by Aaron Laffey in his first start in nearly two years. Laffey stepped in for Toronto's depleted rotation and pitched six crisp innings, allowing three hits with two walks. Laffey retired 12 straight batters after Aviles' leadoff single in the first.
" Aaron Laffey pitched a heck of a six innings for us," manager John Farrell said. "He gave us six outstanding innings - shutout innings. We were up 1-0."
But that isn't enough at Fenway Park, where the Red Sox had been struggling earlier but improved to 6-2 on a nine-game homestand that wraps up Wednesday afternoon against the Blue Jays.
Andrew Miller (2-0) recorded an out in the seventh to pick up the win. Vicente Padilla pitched a perfect eighth, striking out two and setting up Alfredo Aceves for a 1-2-3 ninth.
After Saltalamacchia went deep, pinch-hitter Ryan Kalish doubled to right against Luis Perez (2-2). David Pauley came out of the bullpen and hit Daniel Nava with a pitch. Pauley then walked Aviles and Pedroia's hit made it 3-1.
"It seems like it's been so long since he's been in that opportunity late in the game where he could win the game," Valentine said. "It presented itself and he drove the runs in. That really gives us strength."
Matsuzaka went 5 2-3 innings, allowing five hits. He struck out five and walked one.
Brett Lawrie led off the game with a double to center and scored on a two-out single by Edwin Encarnacion , putting Toronto ahead 1-0.
Pedroia walked with one out in the sixth and tried to scamper home on David Ortiz 's double off the Green Monster, but Rajai Davis recovered after misplaying the hop and threw a straight shot to catcher Jeff Mathis in time for the tag.
NOTES: The series is tied 1-1 and concludes with an afternoon game Wednesday. Boston's Jon Lester (4-5) is scheduled to face Ricky Romero (8-1). ... The Red Sox announced RHP Clay Buchholz experienced erosion of his esophagus, and the condition caused internal bleeding. The team says he is doing well and is expected to make a complete recovery. ... Laffey's previous start was July 19, 2010. ... Davis led off the second with a single, but Matsuzaka picked him off first.