BUFFALO — On a night when three other games in their sport were postponed as a form of social protest, the Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays took the field on Wednesday night.
Rowdy Tellez homered twice and drove in four runs in a 9-1 victory for the Blue Jays. The Sox were held to three hits, a season low.
It all seemed insignificant given the events of the day.
In addition to the three MLB games, three NBA playoff games and three WNBA games weren’t played to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake by a police officer in Kenosha, Wis., on Sunday.
Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot multiple times in the back as he walked to his car. Blake’s family has said he is paralyzed from the waist down and protests have since enveloped Kenosha.
The Sox-Jays game at Sahlen Field started at 6:38 p.m., approximately 30 minutes after the Reds-Brewers game in Milwaukee was called off. The Mariners-Padres and Dodgers-Giants games were postponed later in the evening.
Several players in other games elected not to play.
Both Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke and Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said there was no discussion about whether to play in their respective clubhouses before the game.
“I did not know the [Reds-Brewers] game was canceled until right before ours,” Roenicke said.
Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. was aware of the NBA postponements but didn’t know about the action other baseball teams were taking until he was going out to the field to warm up.
“Possibly. I’m not sure,” Bradley said when asked if the Red Sox would have discussed the situation had there been time.
Bradley, who has taken a knee during the national anthem before games this season, fully supported what other teams did.
“You always think about [not playing]. I felt like I wanted to be there for my team,” he said. “Not saying that they wouldn’t have supported me. I’m sure they would have supported me whole-heartedly. You obviously think about it. You never know.”
A statement from MLB said: “Given the pain in the communities of Wisconsin and beyond following the shooting of Jacob Blake, we respect the decisions of a number of players not to play tonight. Major League Baseball remains united for change in our society and we will be allies in the fight to end racism and injustice.”
Roenicke said there was no team-wide discussion after the game.
The Sox continued the process of converting righthander Colten Brewer into a starter. He pitched 3 ⅔innings and threw 80 pitches, the most of his career.
Brewer allowed four runs, all on homers. Randal Grichuk had a solo shot to left field in the first inning. Tellez led off the second inning with a homer to right field. He also homered to right field in the fifth inning, this time with a runner on.
Tellez was hitless in two previous at-bats against Brewer. But if it’s a Red Sox pitcher, Tellez will get to them eventually. Nine of his 31 career home runs have come against six different Sox pitchers.
The 27-year-old Brewer has allowed six earned runs on 12 hits over 10 ⅓ innings in three starts.
The Blue Jays gave 28-year-old rookie righthander Julian Merryweather his first career start. He pitched two scoreless innings and struck out three.
The Sox didn’t score until the fourth inning when Mitch Moreland homered to left field off Shun Yamaguchi, his eighth of the season.
Ryan Weber, who has pitched well in relief since coming out of the rotation, replaced Brewer and held Toronto down until the seventh inning.
Singles by Santiago Espinal, Cavan Biggio and Grichuck gave Toronto a 5-1 lead. Austin Brice replaced Weber and walked Teoscar Hernandez to load the bases.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. lined a double down the left field line and three runs scored. Guerrero then scored on a single by Tellez, who has 20 RBIs in 20 career games against the Sox.
“We make a lot of bad pitches to him and he doesn’t miss them,” Roenicke said.
With 29 games remaining to play and the trade deadline coming up on Monday, the Sox (10-21) may soon decide to devote playing time to prospects rather than veterans unlikely to have a future with the team.
“It’s certainly possible that will happen,” Roenicke said before the game. “I’ve been with organizations before where it’s happened. I think you get to a point where it’s really important to look at next year, wherever that point may be. We’re obviously not in a real good spot right now.”
The Sox have players working out in the reserve group at Pawtucket they’d want to take a look at to gauge their readiness for 2021.
Infielders C.J. Chatman and Bobby Dalbec would benefit from the experience, as would righthander Tanner Houck.
“Next year is important and years after that are important,” Roenicke said. “If you’re not able to find out some things in a down year than you’re not accomplishing anything.”