Generally, if you were going to lay out a blueprint for beating the Red Sox this season, a shootout wouldn’t be the best route.
The Sox had scored seven or more runs 28 times this coming into Friday’s matchup with the Toronto Blue Jays.
They were 27-1 in those games.
The margins didn’t particularly matter. Earlier this month, they blew out the Kansas City Royals, 15-4. A month ago, they scored nine runs in the final four innings to steal a 14-10 win over the Seattle Mariners.
The Blue Jays didn’t necessarily fit the profile of a team suited for a slugfest. Since dumping 13 runs on the Orioles on June 10, they’d averaged just four runs per game.
But they managed to unload on the Sox in a 13-7 win Friday night, snapping the Sox’ 10-game winning streak.
Justin Smoak went 3 for 5 with two home runs and four RBIs, Kevin Pillar went 4 for 5 with four RBIs, and Dwight Smith Jr. went 1 for 3 with a homer.
The Jays hammered Sox starter Rick Porcello, knocking him out of the game after just two innings. Porcello gave up eight runs on seven hits (two homers).
“It wasn’t a good one and we know it,” manager Alex Cora said. “It’s going to happen, you know, they’re going to have one of those and we turn the page.”
Porcello isn’t the type of pitcher to hand out free passes.
He’s never walked more than 52 batters in a season over his 10 years in the majors.
Only 15 qualified pitchers had fewer than Porcello’s 27 walks coming into Friday’s start.
So seeing him walk three batters on the way to giving up two runs in the second inning was an oddity.
“Just never got into a groove,” Porcello said. “Walked four guys. Can’t expect to have success when you put four guys on base. Free passes. Couldn’t make pitches with those guys on base.”
Porcello got an early lead after Mookie Betts led off the first with a triple and scored on a throwing error.
But in the second, Porcello started things off by losing Kendrys Morales after getting ahead 1-and-2. He then walked Russell Martin and paid for it. Pillar doubled to left to drive in Morales, then Smith sent a sacrifice fly to left that scored Martin to give the Jays a 2-1 lead. Porcello walked Devon Travis on five pitches and Sox pitching coach Dana LeVangie came out to the mound to settle him down.
Porcello struck out Curtis Granderson on three pitches but gave up an RBI single to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. that gave the Jays a 3-1 lead. He finally got out of the inning by getting Yangervis Solarte to ground out to short.
The Sox got the runs back and then some in the bottom of the inning. The combination of three errors, RBI singles from Jackie Bradley and Brock Holt, and a two-run triple by Betts gave the Sox a 6-3 lead.
It was the third time in five games that the Sox hung up five or more runs in an inning. They’ve scored five-plus runs in an inning 17 times this season. They’ve done it five times this month. They only did it 21 times all last season. The only other team with five-plus runs in an inning 16 or more times coming into Friday was Cleveland.
But Porcello couldn’t make the runs hold up.
Leading off the fourth, he left a 1-and-2 fastball over the middle of the plate to Smoak, who blasted it to right field for a solo homer, his 15th of the season. He walked Morales then gave up a single to Martin before LeVangie made another trip to the mound.
But Porcello couldn’t pull it together. Pillar shot a two-seamer to center for a two-run double that made tied the game at 6. A batter later, Smith blasted a two-run homer to right to give the Jays an 8-6 lead.
With that, Porcello’s night was done after just two innings. It was easily his shortest outing of the season. His eight earned runs were a season high, as were his four walks.
“I don’t know what to say really,” Porcello said. “This one’s completely on me. Our team did a hell of a job putting up three runs after I put us into a deficit and I couldn’t hold it.”
The Jays snapped a six-game losing streak to the Sox. Their 13 runs were the most the Sox allowed all season. The last time Toronto scored as many at Fenway Park was 2015.
“I feel like we had traffic all game,” said J.D. Martinez. “We put up seven runs. I feel like we did a good job all night, but you’ve got to tip your hat to the competition. They kept answering back.”