Blue Jays' epic Red Sox beatdown reinforces belief in unleashing potential

Watch as the Toronto Blue Jays score all 28 of their franchise record-setting game for most runs, they also broke their franchise record for most hits with 29 in what will go down as their most offensively potent game in history.

BOSTON – As the runs piled up and the manual scoreboard operators inside the Green Monster struggled to keep pace, it was as if the Toronto Blue Jays were taking out a season’s worth of frustration on the Boston Red Sox in one night.

No doubt the hosts helped them along. Jarren Duran losing track of a Raimel Tapia fly ball to deep centre and it becoming the franchise’s second ever inside-the-park grand slam. Kevin Plawecki allowing a Matt Chapman pop up between the plate and mound with a hit probability of one per cent to fall in for an RBI single, with 10 runs coming in after what should have been the fifth inning’s third and final out. Two other errors officially scored as such contributed, too.

But the stunning 28-5 final Friday was an epic beatdown long before the outcome was so over that the only thing at stake was organizational record-keeping (club-record setting run and hit totals for the Blue Jays, club record total runs allowed by the Red Sox). And given that it came at a crucial tipping point for both AL East rivals out of the all-star break, the result will only reinforce belief among the Blue Jays that they’re on the verge of unleashing their untapped potential while perhaps nudging the Red Sox further toward subtracting before the Aug. 2 trade deadline, rather than adding.

“It just sets the tone for the second half,” said Chapman, who finished with three hits, including a two-run homer in the second inning. “Can't change what happened in the first half, you know? Sure, you can always find something that you think we need to improve on. We definitely think we could have played better. But we wanted to come out strong in the second half, we have big goals so to come out and set the tone like, that’s huge. Everybody pitched in on all facets. It's a really nice way to start off the second half.”

The numbers are dazzling. Six RBIs each for Tapia and Danny Jansen, who hit a pair of homers and along with Teoscar Hernandez and Santiago Espinal, reached base in four consecutive plate appearances. Every starter had at least two hits and two RBIs. All but Alejandro Kirk drove in at least one run. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. matched Frank Catalanotto’s club record with six hits. Five different hitters walked, underlining that this wasn’t simply the by-product of a damage-at-all-costs approach, but rather disciplined, tenacious at-bats.

“That was incredible – I've never been a part of something like that,” said starter Kevin Gausman. “Hit after hit after hit. Definitely some luck there, some bloop hits, but man, just everything went our way tonight on the offensive side, for sure.”

No hyperbole there, as aside from providing nearly a week’s worth of highlights in one night, and falling two short of the modern-day runs record, this was also a hitting coach’s Exhibit A of how to attack a good starter.

The Blue Jays simply wore out Nate Eovaldi, who allowed nine runs on eight hits and two walks in 2.2 frames.

“That was very important – each of us did their part,” Gurriel said through interpreter Hector Lebron. “That's one of the things we have to continue to do in the regular season and the playoffs.”

All they did from there was keep going.

“Great at-bats,” said interim manager John Schneider. “A couple of walks from Teo, Jano, that's what we've been preaching all year, just pass the baton and then guys are getting big knocks. There's obviously the hits that are highlighted. But I think the overall approach tonight was outstanding.”

That the Red Sox scored more runs against Gausman in this game – three – than they had in the three previous times they faced him – two – combined was rendered moot as a result.

Still, beyond the shock and awe of the night is the underlying process.

The Blue Jays met as a team before they started their day, with Schneider stressing the urgency of the moment if they are to meet their aspirations. Essentially the message was, “great to see you and it’s go time,” he said. “And it’s great when it’s led by the players and you don't really have to say much. It was good to feel that from all the guys today.”

After a whirlwind ascension following Charlie Montoyo’s firing as manager last week, Schneider had a chance to decompress over the all-star break and digest all that had happened. He enjoyed some time with his boys, rambunctious like their dad, and shared some appreciation for his achievement with the whole family.

By Wednesday, he started making calls and discussing scenarios for the final 2½ months and rejoined his team at Fenway Park with some plans to discuss.

“It starts with the meeting today going over the series and just reiterating some of the things that we have done a little bit differently in the five games and just kind of reinforcing that, hey, this is the way that we think and is going to be most beneficial for us going forward,” he explained. “So the messaging is a little bit clearer, I think, today to the guys. They saw how we went about it against Kansas City and the one game against Philly. But it's nice to kind of catch your breath, digest it all, get your messaging straight, and then put everything that you've been thinking about into action, whether it's on the field, in the clubhouse, how you're communicating with the guys, and over time, it just gets more natural.”

The Blue Jays held a couple of team meetings before the break, as well, to recognize the selections of Espinal and Jordan Romano as all-stars and the group gathering Friday was another element Schneider plans to use more often.

“I think it's a good thing just to get guys together, not every day, but periodically to let them speak and let certain things be heard in front of their teammates, good, bad or indifferent,” he said. “Baseball, you get separated in between starting pitchers, relief pitchers, position players and it's nice to get everyone together every once in a while and just take inventory and see how everyone's doing. I've always been a fan of it.”

How much that helped them jump the Red Sox isn’t clear, but for a Boston team trying to decide where it fits on the spectrum of contenders and pretenders, this was a real punch in the mouth.

While they began the day only two games behind the Blue Jays for the third and final wild card, the loss dropped them to 12-27 against the American League East. With a difficult remaining schedule and Chris Sale’s broken left pinky ending hopes of a major boost from the lefty, their chances of remaining relevant appear to be on the decline.

The dude proposing on the video screen after the Blue Jays scored 11 in the fifth inning to open up a 25-3 lead felt like a silver-linings metaphor for the possibility of a consolation prospect-haul.

The Blue Jays, on the other hand, have their eyes on more. After a first half of feeling like a whole lot less than the sum of their parts, this game certainly seemed like a moment.

“This was kind of wild, but now we're done with it and we're on to the next game,” said Jansen, displaying exactly the type of attitude needed for it to become more than that.

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