TORONTO — An embarrassing loss against the Yankees on Thursday prompted Red Sox manger John Farrell to address his team before Friday night’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Farrell did not raise his voice, according to several players. He spoke of fundamentals gone awry, reminded the defending World Series champions of their potential, and pointed out they were only a few weeks into a long season.
Farrell’s timing was perfect given the Red Sox had their full lineup together for the first time this season.
The return of right fielder Shane Victorino from the disabled list on Thursday and third baseman Will Middlebrooks on Friday gave the Sox the team they envisioned when spring training started in February but never saw.
That lineup proved Farrell’s point, if just for the night, as the Red Sox were impressive in an 8-1 victory over the Blue Jays before a crowd of 29,411 at Rogers Centre.
The Red Sox had 16 hits off Mark Buehrle (4-1) and two relievers, nine for extra bases.
“That was our team,” said Dustin Pedroia, who was on base three times hitting leadoff and drove in two runs. “We had guys grinding at-bats, we had big hits with two outs. It was a good look.”
The bottom three hitters in the strengthened order — A.J. Pierzynski, Middlebrooks, and Jackie Bradley Jr. — were 8 of 12 with five runs and four RBIs.
Middlebrooks was 2 for 4 with a double and two RBIs in his return. Bradley had the best offensive game of his career, going 3 for 4 with two doubles, a triple, a walk, and one RBI.
Bradley credited a conversation he had with Pedroia during the team’s flight from Boston on Thursday night.
“There’s a reason Pedey is so good,” Bradley said. “He asked me where they have been pitching me and I told him they were going inside. We talked about simple stuff. He told me to step off the dish a little bit and those pitches you think are in, you can extend your hands a little bit.
“I listened to him. That’s what you need to do, be able to learn.”
Mike Napoli was 2 for 3 with a double, two walks, and an RBI. Jake Peavy, Chris Capuano, and Andrew Miller held the Blue Jays to six hits and struck out 12.
“No one certainly is proud of the way things unfolded [Thursday] night. That was an ugly game,” Farrell said, recalling the 14-5 loss the Sox took on Thursday, a game in which they committed five errors.
“It still goes to the ability to go out and execute consistently. It’s not a matter of just writing a name in the lineup. But guys have track records; they’ve been successful.”
Buehrle allowed two runs over 28 innings in his first four starts. The Red Sox had four by the second inning on Friday. By the time his outing was over, the lefthander had given up seven runs (six earned) on 12 hits and three walks. Buehrle did not have a strikeout.
“I thought a very good offensive approach,” Farrell said. “We didn’t expand the [strike] zone against Buehrle.”
Napoli drew a walk to start the second inning and went to third when Xander Bogaerts doubled to right field with one out. Pierzynski followed with a sacrifice fly to center.
Pierzynski had not faced Buehrle since 2003. The two were teammates with the White Sox from 2005-11.
The Sox then had three consecutive two-out hits. Middlebrooks, in his first major league at-bat since April 4, muscled a broken-bat single into right field to score Bogaerts.
“Felt good to contribute,” Middlebrooks said. “It’s not like I’m some savior. But it’s never good to sit on the side and watch. You’re going to have tough patches and I think ours might have been early. We’ll be fine with this group of guys we have.”
Bradley followed with a double to left field. Pedroia’s single to center drove in two runs but the inning ended when he was thrown out at second.
David Ortiz lined a home run to right field in the third inning. It was his fifth of the season. Ortiz has 378 home runs, one shy of matching Dwight Evans for fourth place in team history.
Buehrle left runners stranded in scoring position in the fourth and fifth innings. But he could not escape the sixth inning.
Pierzynski singled and scored when Middlebrooks doubled to the gap in right field. Middlebrooks tried to go to third on the throw to the plate and was out.
Bradley walked, ending Buehrle’s night after 101 pitches. Facing righthander Neil Wagner, Pedroia grounded a ball up the middle. Jose Reyes flipped the ball to second baseman Ryan Goins, but he was off the bag.
Victorino popped to third base but Ortiz and Napoli drew walks to force in a run.
As the Red Sox rediscovered their offensive swagger, Peavy deftly handled the Toronto lineup.
The righthander retired 10 of the first 11 batters he faced before Jose Bautista doubled with one out in the fourth inning. Edwin Encarnacion then walked.
With his team down, 5-0, and No. 5 hitter Dioner Navarro up, Bautista curiously tried to steal third and was thrown out. Navarro then popped up to end the inning.
Reyes doubled with one out in the sixth inning and went to third when Melky Cabrera singled to right field. Toronto third base coach Luis Rivera held Reyes, knowing the strong arm of Victorino.
Peavy came back and struck out Bautista and Encarnacion. Peavy caught Bautista looking at a 3-and-2 curveball that caught the inside corner.
Peavy lost his shutout with one out in the seventh inning when Juan Francisco homered deep to right field. But Peavy completed seven innings, allowing the one run on five hits. He walked two and struck out seven.
“A team win and we needed it,” Peavy said.
Peavy (1-0) has gone at least six innings and allowed two or fewer runs in four of his five starts.