Gross. That’s about all there was to say about the beatdown handed out by the Blue Jays Friday evening at Fenway Park.
Throw embarrassment in there, too. Perhaps pitiful works better.
Red Sox fans might have seen it all this season, but nothing like this. Nothing like a 28-5 scoreline in both teams’ first game after the All-Star break, the Blue Jays scoring the most runs by a Red Sox opponent in the franchise’s 122-year history.
“It’s very tough [to watch unfold],” manager Alex Cora said.
Never mind Nate Eovaldi’s inability to get out of the third inning, ultimately charged for nine earned runs against eight hits and two walks. That included Matt Chapman’s towering two-run homer to left-center field in the second, the first of Toronto’s five long balls.
Never mind Eovaldi’s velocity on his four-seam fastball remained roughly two ticks down for the second straight start since he was activated off the injured list.
“Obviously, I left a few pitches out over the plate. Especially the one to Chapman,” Eovaldi said. “Earlier in the game, I felt like a couple of calls didn’t go my way. I gotta do a better job of just being able to turn the page from that and be able to get the guys back in the dugout as fast as possible to score some runs.”
After Eovaldi was removed, Austin Davis entered with two outs and the bases loaded in a 6-0 game. He got Raimel Tapia to sky a fly ball to center field.
That’s when the stench really hit Fenway. Jarren Duran lost the ball in the lights, only found it after it bounced high off the warning track behind him, and didn’t bother to run after it as Alex Verdugo raced over from left.
“It’s the most helpless feeling you could ever feel,” Duran said. “Until you guys catch a fly ball in the twilight, let me know.”
Was he embarrassed? Astonished, much like everyone else in the ballpark that a play like that actually happened?
“Verdugo was already beating me to the ball,” Duran said on why he didn’t run after it. “I just didn’t want to get in his way. What if I collide with him or something like that?”
Those four runs were the final tallies of a seven-run inning, but the Jays weren’t even halfway done. The Duran play somehow became a footnote.
After scoring four more in the fourth against Davis, and the Red Sox scored three of their own, Toronto piled on 11 in the fifth against Kaleb Ort despite his retiring the first two batters he faced.
More sloppy play played a part. Chapman skied a pop up in front of the pitcher’s mound, and it fell between catcher Kevin Plawecki, Ort, and third baseman Rafael Devers.
Toronto added two more in the sixth to make it 27-3 before Jake Diekman worked around a leadoff single in the seventh and finally put a zero in the linescore. Hirokazu Sawamura pitched a clean eighth before infielder Yolmer Sánchez, added to the roster before the game, allowed the record-breaking run on three hits in the ninth.
Before Friday, the Red Sox had never allowed more than 27 runs in a game, and that happened 99 years ago: July 7, 1923, in a 27-3 loss at Cleveland’s Dunn Field to open a doubleheader. (They lost the second by a more manageable 8-5.) The previous best showings by a Fenway Park visitor was 24 runs, each also nearly a century ago: The Yankees in a 24-4 win on Sept. 28, 1923, and the Philadelphia A’s in a 24-6 win on May 1, 1929.
The Red Sox did manage four home runs — two by Christian Vázquez (deputized into another start at first base), and one each by Jackie Bradley Jr. and Rob Refsnyder. Even that didn’t keep pace with the Jays, whose five included two by Danny Jansen. He and Tapia knocked in six runs each, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. went 6-for-7 with 5 RBIs.
The Jays finished with 29 hits, which tied for the second-most hits the Red Sox have ever allowed. They were just two runs shy of the modern scoring record, the 30 put up by Texas in Baltimore on Aug. 22, 2007.
“It was tough to be in the dugout to be honest with you,” Cora said. “And they know that it’s not a lack of preparation. It’s not a lack of effort, because we keep working on our stuff and we keep going through the process the right way. I love to say that this happens, but it doesn’t happen often, you know, and we just got to turn the page.”