Hernandez home run not enough, Red Sox beat Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays had the tying run in scoring position but Craig Kimbrel shut the door as the Boston Red Sox won 6-4.

BOSTON – Typically, Teoscar Hernandez isn’t one to vent his frustrations on the field, playing the game with the type of steady calm coaches preach from the sandlot to The Show. That’s why the way he slammed his bat to the ground after getting under a seventh inning cookie from Rick Porcello on Tuesday night, lofting it harmlessly to centre field, seemed telling, for both the way things were going for the outfielder, and the Toronto Blue Jays as a whole.

“There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s good to see some emotion out of the guys,” said manager John Gibbons. “But really, the way we’ve played nobody’s real happy and satisfied. He’s such an even-keeled guy, that tells you right there. But he’s pretty good at letting things go.”

Hernandez found a bit of relief Wednesday, when after a pair of strikeouts against Eduardo Rodriguez he launched a two-run homer in the sixth inning off the left-hander, briefly lifting his team into a 2-2 tie with the Boston Red Sox.

Akin to the way things have been going of late, the Blue Jays didn’t stay level long, Sam Gaviglio giving up a leadoff single to Andrew Benintendi in the bottom half of the sixth before leaving a sinker up that J.D. Martinez sent flying right out of Fenway Park at an exit velocity of 111.4 m.p.h. The Red Sox tacked on two more runs in the eighth off Ryan Tepera and then survived a Blue Jays rally in the ninth, Kendrys Morales’ two-run double off Craig Kimbrel not enough to avert a 6-4 loss that capped a dismal 9-19 May marked by injury, constant roster improvisation and dispiriting underperformance.

“The last couple of series I’ve been missing a lot of good pitches to hit and when that happens there was a little bit of frustration coming into the game,” said Hernandez. “Really, after the home run, just keep battling. We’re not in good shape right now, the team is having a bad moment, but we’re going to keep battling, keep competing, keep working hard.”

The Blue Jays are now 25-31 overall, 2-7 against the AL East leading Red Sox (39-17) this season, and a cumulative 7-10 versus the Yankees, Angels, Cleveland and Seattle, each considered a contender in the American League.

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An off-day Thursday offers a chance to regroup – and another day of recuperation for third baseman Josh Donaldson, who left Monday’s contest with tightness in his left calf but felt he could hit if needed Wednesday – before a three-game series starts Friday in Detroit.

“You have to trust in yourself individually,” said Kevin Pillar who singled to start the rally in the ninth and came around to score. “There are a lot of guys in here that the back of their baseball card is pretty impressive. You have to trust in the work. That’s probably No. 1. You have to show up to the yard when things aren’t going well. If you need extra work, you put in the extra work, whether it’s offensively, defensively, pitching. In the training room, in the weight room, you just have to get after it and take it upon yourself to improve.

“When things aren’t going well, it’s easy to feel sorry for yourself individually, feel sorry for yourself as a team,” Pillar added. “Sometimes it can be contagious. No one is hitting so you feel like when you make an out it’s OK because no one’s doing it. But we have a lot of good baseball players in here that expect to be great and when you’re not great, it’s tough. It’s a tough thing to swallow.”

Gaviglio allowed four runs over six innings of work while making his third start since being inserted into the rotation, which all things considered isn’t a bad day of work, although the home run to Martinez, who has four homers and 11 RBIs versus the Blue Jays this year, really hurt.

“I didn’t execute a pitch there,” said Gaviglio. “He got into a hitting count (2-0), that didn’t help me out much, and I need to throw a better pitch there, obviously.”

Even still, offence continues to be incredibly hard to come by for the Blue Jays – they didn’t have a batter reach until Morales’ one-out single in the fifth and had only one at-bat with a runner in scoring position through the first eight innings.

After the Morales double in the ninth, they had runners on second and third with no one out but Kimbrel shut the door.

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Hernandez hadn’t hit a home run since May 16, just before a bout of back tightness forced him to miss a pair of games, and was just 6-for-37 in the nine games that followed his return. Two hits Monday looked to have helped him snap out of his funk, but then came the 0-for-3 Tuesday, including the fly out versus Porcello that left him so frustrated in the batter’s box.

“Sometimes you can’t control that but I try to not show it on the field,” said Hernandez. “It’s really rare for me, I’m going to try to not do it again, instead try to keep battling and do my best.”

On Wednesday he came up in the sixth after the free-swinging Gio Urshela worked a two-out walk off Rodriguez, and pounded a changeup left out and over the plate way over the Monster for his eighth of the season.

Like with so many others, the Blue Jays need more from the hard-hitting outfielder, one of the few players they have capable of impacting the game in a number of ways offensively. When the team was playing well in April, contributions from Hernandez, Yangervis Solarte, Curtis Granderson, Pillar and Luke Maile helped drive the bus.

Right now the Blue Jays are desperate for someone, anyone, to get them going and Hernandez, when right, has been a catalyst for them.

“I just think he’s getting under too many balls, a little too much lift,” Gibbons said of Hernandez. “He can sky it pretty good and there have been a few balls that if he catches it a little bit different, those are productive balls.

“Generally when the whole team is struggling to win, it affects everybody.”

Throughout a miserable May, it showed.


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