That satisfying crack signifying a ball well struck echoed throughout Rogers Centre with almost metronome regularity on Sunday afternoon, which was unfortunate news for the Toronto Blue Jays.
It took just two pitches before the first hearty thwack resonated off the lumber of Boston Red Sox leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury.
It was a line drive, the ball scorched so hard that it carried all the way to the wall in left-centre despite ticking the glove of leaping Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes.
Five pitches later it was Shane Victorino’s turn, a single to centre, followed by a run-scoring double by Dustin Pedroia, who launched a drive into the right-field corner.
Next up on the hitting conga line was Mike Napoli, who smoked a line-drive double into the left-field corner that scored two more.
Then it was Will Middlebrooks, who began a career afternoon launching the first of his three home runs on the first pitch, which resulted in two more runs.
Even more disconcerting than the steady parade of hits for the fans of the Blue Jays, all the damage was inflicted on R.A. Dickey, the knuckleballing phenom who joined the pitching staff with much fanfare during the off-season.
In his second outing of the season, the reigning Cy Young Award winner was again bullied on the mound as the Red Sox pummelled Toronto 13-0 to take the weekend series, 2-1.
That’s now a 0-2 start for Dickey, who has an unsightly 8.44 earned-run average as American League hitters have been anything but charitable in welcoming the National League refugee.
In total, the Red Sox (4-2) crunched six home runs off the Blue Jays, two off Dickey and four off Dave Bush, who was well spanked in his first relief appearance since getting called up from Triple A on Saturday.
Dicky lasted 4 2/3 innings and allowed 10 hits and seven earned runs before another solid home-town gathering of 41,168, bringing the total attendance for the three-game set to 132,393.
“We’re disappointed we laid an egg in front of them today,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “We’ll give them a reason before it’s all said and done to come back.”
The score was 5-0 for Boston after Dickey had thrown just 19 pitches in the first inning.
It was perhaps just as well that many of the spectators had yet to take their seats, still loading up at the concession area.
Middlebrooks went 4-for-5 in the game and drove in four runs.
He homered twice off Dickey and also counted a double in his first three at-bats. He just missed adding a fourth home run in the eighth when he flied out to the warning track in left.
“I was blowing on it running down the line but it didn’t have enough steam,” he said.
Middlebrooks said he had a pretty good book on Dickey’s habits from spring training, and that helped him find success Sunday. He said both his homer came off fastballs.
“I know certain counts he likes to go to fastballs when he’s not locating his knuckleball well,” he said. “He tries to get ahead with the fastball and that helped knowing that.”
Dickey was his usual nonplussed self after the game, saying he hoped the setback was just an “anomaly.”
“I’ve traditionally gotten off to pretty slow starts in past, and I’m not sure why,” he said. “It’s just been the way that’s it’s been.
“I’m looking forward to the rest of the month. I know I’m close. If I can just kind of sit on that, that I’m almost there, I think it will be all right.”
The Blue Jays, who completed their first homestand of the season with a disappointing 2-4 mark, now head out for their first trip.
It begins on Tuesday with the first of three against the Detroit Tigers before the Jays head to Kansas City for three against the Royals.
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