There are no set roles in the Red Sox bullpen beyond Junichi Tazawa generally pitching in the eighth inning. Interim manager Torey Lovullo does the best he can with a shaky cast.
“Everybody wants a role down there but there are none,” Lovullo said. “It’s a mix and match.”
For most of Tuesday night, it worked out. Five relievers held the Toronto Blue Jays scoreless for 3⅔ innings, shutting down the highest-scoring team in the game. Not a hit was allowed.
Had the Red Sox found a way to score in the bottom of the ninth inning, it would have been one of the more satisfying victories of the season.
But the game went extra innings and Lovullo’s next call to the bullpen was to a wrong number. Alexi Ogando allowed four runs in the 10th inning as the Blue Jays beat the Red Sox, 5-1.
Ogando never had a chance. Josh Donaldson sent his second pitch off the top of the left field wall, so high that a review was required to determine if it was a home run.
Donaldson settled for a triple. Jose Bautista flied out to shallow center and Donaldson held at third, respecting the arm of Mookie Betts. The Sox intentionally walked Edwin Encarnacion to set up a double play.
Troy Tulowitzki foiled that with an RBI single. Chris Colabello also singled to drive in another. A balk, a wild pitch, and a sacrifice fly accounted for two more runs.
Until Tulowitzki’s single, Toronto was hitless in 13 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
The Red Sox had a four-game win streak snapped. The final game of the series is Wednesday night with Joe Kelly facing Drew Hutchison. Toronto has a 1½-game lead over the Yankees in the American League East.
The Sox welcomed back second baseman Dustin Pedroia from the disabled list. In his first game since July 22, Pedroia was 1 for 4 with a double before coming out after nine innings.
Red Sox starter Henry Owens had an eventful 5⅓ innings. He allowed three hits, walked four, hit two, threw two wild pitches, and committed a balk. But the Blue Jays scored only one run.
That came in the first inning and was without the benefit of a hit. Ben Revere was hit by a pitch and took second on a wild pitch. Donaldson lined out before Bautista drew a walk.
Owens was slow to the plate and the Jays executed a double steal, catcher Blake Swihart deciding to hold onto the ball rather than risk a throw. Revere scored when Encarnacion grounded to second base.
The Jays had runners on base in every inning against Owens, but did not score again while the rookie lefthander was in the game.
“There’s some refinement I still need to do with my mechanics out of the windup,” said Owens, who has a 5.25 earned run average after seven starts.
Jean Machi got a double play to end the sixth inning. Tommy Layne, Noe Ramirez, Tazawa, and Robbie Ross Jr. combined on the next eight outs.
“The guys responded perfectly,” Lovullo said.
Tazawa came in with two runners on in the eighth inning and stranded both. It was a big moment for him. Prior to Tuesday, Tazawa had faced the Blue Jays 20 times over the last three seasons and allowed 19 earned runs on 33 hits — nine of them home runs — over 17 innings.
“The media has mentioned that a lot. I tried to not let that negatively affect me. I was able to concentrate,” Tazawa said via translator C.J. Matsumoto. “It felt good to get out of that inning.”
Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey allowed one run on four hits over six innings. The veteran knuckleballer walked one and struck out four.
Travis Shaw hit his second home run in as many games, getting a first-pitch fastball from Dickey in the second inning and dropping it just over the short wall in right field. It was his ninth home run of the season.
The Sox had only three other hits. Doubles by Pablo Sandoval (leading off the fifth inning) and Pedroia (one out in the sixth inning) were wasted.
David Ortiz drew a walk with one out in the ninth inning against Aaron Sanchez. Rusney Castillo pinch ran and was easily thrown out stealing.
“It wasn’t what we were looking for,” Lovullo said. “It didn’t happen the right way, the timing of it.”
The Sox had an idea of when to run on Sanchez but Castillo took off on his own first. Castillo has hit well since his latest call-up, but the 28-year-old rookie continues to show a troubling lack of acumen.