TORONTO — Where to begin?
Matt Boyd was shelled in historic fashion, the BABIP monster finally caught up to Chris Colabello, a bizarre play at the plate left the Blue Jays confounded, Toronto manager John Gibbons emptied his bullpen, oh, and the Boston Red Sox skipped town with three wins in four games after pummelling the Blue Jays, 12-6.
Let’s begin with Boyd who was making his second-ever major league start and didn’t record an out, allowing four singles, a walk and two home runs in the first before Gibbons mercifully lifted him from the game. The Red Sox would go on to stake an eight-run lead before their starter, Wade Miley, even took the mound.
Boyd was optioned down to triple-A Buffalo immediately after the game and didn’t elaborate much on his start other than to say he didn’t execute his pitches and he wouldn’t let any frustration carry over into his next outing.
"The good news is I get to put on a uniform tomorrow. Baseball doesn’t define who I am. It’s my living. It’s the game I play. I’ve got another day. I’m grateful for another day to go out there and bounce back," Boyd said. "Count on me learning from this and being better from this. It won’t happen again."
Boyd’s catcher, Russell Martin, felt the 24-year-old wasn’t commanding his fastball well enough and when he needed to execute his off-speed pitches, they were catching far too much of the plate.
"Everything plays off that fastball. He’s got a good changeup, a curveball and a slider, but, really, the command wasn’t there. That’s when you start falling behind a little bit, not getting early strikes, not getting ahead," Martin said. "I think it’s just due to throwing pitches over the heart of the plate for the most part. And then it just kind of got carried away."
In the end, Boyd was credited with seven earned runs and six hits, becoming the first American League starter ever to allow that many runs and hits without recording a single out. It was the most runs allowed without recording an out in Blue Jays history and the third-most in MLB history.
After the game, when Gibbons told Boyd he was being optioned—"it was a similar conversation with [Scott] Copeland a couple weeks ago," Gibbons said—he made sure to tell his rookie starter to not let the experience get to him.
"I’ve seen many a good one where that happened to them along the way when they were trying to establish themselves. He’s got the stuff he needs to be successful up here," Gibbons said. "We think he’s got a chance to be a good one. For his first go-round, second start, as tough as it is sometimes, you have to let that go. You’ve got to wipe that clean, go back down, and pick up where you left off. It’s a man’s game. It’s a tough business. You’ve got to sometimes take the bad with the good."
The Blue Jays battled back against Miley in the bottom of the second, rallying for four runs in an inning that could have been much worse for the Red Sox had Mookie Betts not made a leaping grab in centre-field on a Danny Valencia liner that looked to be sailing over his head. Off the bat it looked like a hit that would have scored two.
"I was hoping it [would go over his head,]" Valencia said. "But he’s a good centre-fielder and he made a great play."
The bottom of the fifth inning was an interesting one for Betts and Valencia as well. After a Russell Martin single was negated by video review that deemed him out on a bang-bang play at first base, Valencia walked and Kevin Pillar moved him to second with a base hit. That’s when Devon Travis lined a single to centre and Valencia took an aggressive turn around third to try and cut the Red Sox lead to three.
Betts fired the ball home and Valencia slid to the outside of the plate, trying to avoid an attempted tag by Ryan Hanigan. The Red Sox catcher never touched Valencia, who reached back to the plate with his left hand and appeared to graze the bottom of the dish. Everyone paused for a moment and held their breath before Jose Reyes urged Valencia to go tag home and Miley urged Hanigan to tag Valencia. Hanigan won the race, but before either party could make much of a move, home plate umpire Gerry Davis called Valencia out, despite Hanigan having clearly never tagged him.
Gibbons came out to argue and immediately demanded a video review. The Blue Jays have an in-house overhead camera they use to monitor balls and strikes which several players claimed to show Valencia clearly touching the plate. But after a two-minute review, replay officials in New York determined there was no clear or convincing evidence to confirm or overturn the call on the field, meaning the out stood as called.
After the game, home plate umpire Gerry Davis said the word from the replay centre was that Hanigan’s second tag acted as an appeal and the official out.
"When the runner misses the plate and there’s no tag, if the umpire makes a call, if the catcher appeals it before going to the headset, the call becomes out, which is what [Hanigan] did. That’s basically it in a nutshell," Davis said. "That negates that call at all. If both the runner misses the plate and the tag is missed, if the umpire makes a call, and the catcher appeals it before going to the headset, then he’s called out."
Knowing he would be tossed for arguing, Gibbons came charging back out of the dugout to plead his case and earned his third ejection of the season. Part of Gibbons’ argument was that Hanigan blocked the plate with his left foot, and didn’t give Valencia a clear lane to slide into home.
"[Hanigan] didn’t actually have the ball in his hand when he threw his foot out there. I agree with everything he did because that’s the way you play that position, but of course with the way the rules are now, they eliminated that," Gibbons said. "But the umpires on the field have nothing to do with it once it leaves the field. They just do what they’re told. It’s a good crew there. It’s just the way it goes."
The Blue Jays certainly had their chances to get back into the game, especially against Miley who was shaky throughout his five innings, allowing seven hits and walking seven more.
Chris Colabello struck a single in his first at-bat, but went hitless in his next four which all ended innings with men aboard, stranding nine of the 14 runners the Blue Jays would leave on base Thursday night. Jose Reyes also struggled with runners on, popping out on the first pitch he saw with the bases loaded in the second and striking out on three pitches with two men on in fifth after the disputed call at the plate. He struck out with two runners on again in the seventh.
"We had a lot of opportunities to score runs. We left a lot of guys on base. But it was good that the offence kept fighting and we ended up scoring six runs," said Valencia, who hit the second half of back-to-back solo home runs with Martin in the ninth. "We missed some opportunities to really score more and tack on more runs. It was unfortunate."
All seven pitchers in the Blue Jays bullpen entered the game, tasked with recording all 27 outs and holding the Red Sox lead in check. Liam Hendriks allowed a run in three innings after taking over for Boyd with none out in the first, while Bo Schultz and Aaron Loup combined for three scoreless innings themselves. Steve Delabar was tagged for three runs (one earned) in the seventh, while Brett Cecil, Roberto Osuna and Todd Redmond were called upon to pitch the late innings.
Redmond was designated for assignment after the game, which means the Blue Jays will be adding two players (almost certainly pitchers) to their 25-man roster ahead of this weekend’s three-game series in Detroit. Boyd, who takes a 14.85 ERA in two major-league starts back to Buffalo, is simply looking forward to his next opportunity to pitch and put the worst start of his life behind him.
"I’m really looking forward to [my next start.] I’m chomping at the bit," Boyd said. "You guys will see me here again."