BOSTON, Mass. – The Blue Jays gave themselves a chance to split their weekend series with the Red Sox thanks to a Saturday afternoon win, amazingly rebounding yet again from a blown save. Steve Delabar gave up a pair of runs in the seventh inning for his team-leading third blown save of the season, but the Blue Jays came back and are now 6-3 this season when their bullpen blows a save.
Here are three things that stood out to me about the Blue Jays’ 40th win of the season:
THE HIGH SOCKS WORKED
Jose Bautista has had a terrible June, coming into Saturday’s game hitting an ugly .182/.250/.333 for the month, so he decided to switch things up and broke out the high-socks look. It worked.
Bautista walked and stole second in the first inning (his sixth in six tries), setting up the Blue Jays’ first run, and he took care of the second run all by himself. Leading off the sixth, Jose blasted a Felix Doubront offering right out of Fenway Park, over the Green Monster and off three cars in a parking lot across the street. It was his 157th home run as a Blue Jay and the 200th of his career.
As if that wasn’t enough, Bautista threw his cannon of an arm into the ring in the bottom of the sixth, throwing out Shane Victorino at the plate, trying to score on a Dustin Pedroia single. Victorino is still one of the fastest base runners in the league, and it was a ground ball single, giving him even more time. Bautista’s throw was an absolute laser, his seventh outfield assist of the season.
After the Red Sox tied it up in the seventh, an encore was required and Bautista provided it, hitting the light tower atop the Green Monster with a two-run homer in the eighth, breaking a 2-2 tie and giving the Blue Jays the win.
ROGERS ON DEMAND
The Blue Jays were pretty hard up for a strong outing from a starting pitcher and Esmil Rogers delivered an absolute gem.
The Jays had gone a full turn through the rotation with three of their starters having failed to pitch more than five innings, and in the first two games here in Boston their starters had combined to throw a total of just five.
Rogers came out guns a blazing, allowing only an infield single through the first three innings and letting the Red Sox hit just one ball out of the infield over the first four. He got some help from his defence later on – an absolutely spectacular diving catch by Colby Rasmus robbed Jonathan Diaz of an RBI single in the fifth and of course there was the Bautista throw in the sixth - and Rogers seemed to be running out of gas in a hurry, having allowed three straight hits to begin the sixth inning with only a two-run lead.
But Rogers reached back for whatever he had left, and with the tying runs on base, struck out Mike Napoli and Daniel Nava to emerge unscathed. He turned it over to the bullpen after six scoreless frames, but wound up with a no-decision.
ARENCIBIA, BATTERED AND BRUISED
J.P. Arencibia has been taken a beating from Blue Jays’ fans for the last couple of months or so because of his terrible strikeout-to-walk ratio, .221 batting average and perceived unwillingness to adjust to a shorter swing when the situation calls for it.
The fans’ fury ramped up when Arencibia struck out in each of his first two at-bats on Saturday, the first coming with a runner on third and less than two out.
Arencibia went from taking a virtual beating to taking an actual beating as the game progressed, though. Victorino came in elbows first in the sixth, trying to take J.P. out, but he stood fast and held on to Bautista’s great throw as he hit the ground.
In the seventh inning, the Red Sox tried to squeeze a run home, but Darren Oliver pounced on it and fired to Arencibia, who again held strong and made a great block of the plate to deny fellow backstop Jarrod Saltalamacchia. It was Saltalamacchia, who has a 35-pound advantage on Arencibia, who came away from the collision limping his way back to the home dugout.