Drew Hutchison, the starting pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays, reared back and delivered three straight fastballs, all in the mid-90-mile-per-hour range, and struck out Brock Holt, who led off Monday night’s game for the Boston Red Sox.
It also took Hutchison just three pitches – again, all heaters – to dispose of Dustin Pedroia, who popped out weakly to the shortstop. Next up was the fearsome David Ortiz, who at least saw four pitches before he went down swinging.
Three up, three down, 10 pitches. An economical Hutchison departed the mound in the first inning feeling pretty good about himself.
The euphoria did not last long.
Boston’s Mike Napoli led off the second inning with a double, followed by a bloop single by Daniel Nava that Toronto centre fielder Colby Rasmus approached as if he were wearing snowshoes. Stephen Drew followed with the third consecutive hit off the suddenly reeling Hutchison, a single to right that carded the first of two Boston runs in a scoring binge that wouldn’t soon stop.
The Red Sox tacked on four more runs off Hutchison in the third inning and the rout at Rogers Centre was officially on.
By the time the curtain fell on this supposed American League East showdown, the Red Sox (47-52) were on the happy side of a 14-1 laugher as they continued their strong post-All-Star break showing by winning their fourth in a row.
The Blue Jays (51-49) learned that taking two of three from the lowly Texas Rangers, which they did over the weekend, is one thing. Trying to get the better of the Red Sox in the first of a four-game series when the playoff races are finally starting to turn meaningful will be another.
John Lackey, the Boston starter, certainly enjoyed all the hitters’ fireworks, cruising to what has to be one of his easiest victories in recent memory to improve his record to 11-6.
Lackey barely broke a sweat, allowing just two lonely Toronto hits – both in the third inning, when the Blue Jays pushed across their only run – over seven innings of work. The Blue Jays would only finish with three hits on the night.
To say that the Blue Jays went down meekly would be a disservice to the word meek.
Hutchison was yanked after giving up nine hits through 22/3 innings, his shortest outing of the season but the second consecutive game in which he has allowed six earned runs.
For Hutchison, now 6-9 on the year, it was his third loss in a row and fifth in his past six outings.
By the time the top of the fifth inning had concluded, the Red Sox had already belted 16 hits (they would finish with 18), including a three-run home run shot by Drew in the third inning to finish the game with four runs batted in.
That was the same total accrued by Ortiz, who smoked two two-run homers, one in the fourth inning and the other in the bat-around fifth, when the Red Sox tagged on another six runs. The dingers give Ortiz 453 in his career, vaulting him past Carl Yastrzemski, the former illustrious Red Sox alumnus, into 36th place on MLB’s all-time list.
Brad Mills, making his first appearance in relief for the Jays since being claimed off waivers from Oakland last week, was given a rude welcome. Mills surrendered eight runs off seven hits in the two innings he was forced to endure.
Earlier in the day, the Blue Jays announced they had placed reliever Sergio Santos on waivers. If no other team claims Santos, he will have to report to Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo, where he will try to rediscover the form he displayed in 2011, when he recorded 30 saves as a member of the Chicago White Sox.
Toronto manager John Gibbons had clearly lost confidence in the oft-injured and inconsistent right-hander. Since returning to the lineup in mid-June after nursing a sore right arm, Santos only pitched in 10 games, allowing 11 hits over 72/3 innings with an earned-run average of 5.87.
To fill Santos’s spot on the 25-man roster, the Blue Jays recalled left-handed pitcher Rob Rasmussen from Buffalo.
“He hasn’t thrown well. Clearly, some guys are being used more than him right now, and the only way to get out of this funk is to pitch,” Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos said of Santos earlier on Monday. “But it’s hard to find a spot for him right now.”