Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons has been saying it for the past week: His team just needs to catch a break to snap out of this slump they're in.
Mired in their worst start to a season in franchise history, the Blue Jays got a little help from their American League East rivals on Wednesday, capitalizing on a pair of early Boston Red Sox defensive errors to earn a 3-0 win at Rogers Centre.
A pair of back-to-back second-inning blunders by Boston's corner defenders allowed Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin to reach base before Darwin Barney brought them both home with a single off Red Sox starter Rick Porcello. Ezequiel Carrera would single before the inning was over, cashing in Barney to further pad the Jays' lead en route to their third win of the season. Kevin Pillar collected three singles, a night after he had three extra base hits, to extend his hitting streak to seven games.
Francisco Liriano turned in a serviceable 5 1/3 innings on the mound in a winning effort. The left-hander gave up four hits and struck out six, including Mookie Betts, the Sox star outfielder who until that point had not gone down on strikes in 129 straight plate appearances dating to September, 2016.
Liriano lowered his inflated earned-run average to 5.11 with his second strong start in a row, after a total meltdown in his 2017 debut in which he recorded only one out, resulting in the shortest start of his career.
With Boston threatening in the sixth, Liriano was lifted in favour of right-hander Joe Biagini, who faced runners on first and second with one out. Biagini escaped danger by inducing a double play from Red Sox cleanup man Hanley Ramirez to preserve the Jays' three-run lead.
Biagini, Jason Grilli and closer Roberto Osuna combined for 3 2/3 runless innings as the Blue Jays snapped a two-game losing skid.
Porcello took the loss on the mound for Boston despite not surrendering an earned run. The reigning AL Cy Young winner pitched seven innings and gave up six hits for three runs with five strikeouts.
While he was the losing pitcher, Porcello finally solved Jose Bautista, who had rocked the right-hander for four homers and 16 hits in 38 career at bats prior to Wednesday's contest. Bautista was 0 for 4 on the night, striking out twice, to extend his hitless run to 12 at-bats.
The two sides wrap up their series with a rubber match on Thursday afternoon at 12:37 pm. ET. The competition won't get any easier for the Blue Jays. They're set to face Chris Sale, the Sox prized off-season, acquisition. Sale, who has allowed three earned runs in 21 2/3 innings (three starts) this season, dominated Toronto in two starts last year.
The left-hander pitched eight innings in each of those two games, allowing a total of three earned runs over 16 innings. For his career, Sale owns a 2.25 earn-run average against the Blue Jays.
Marco Estrada will make the start for Toronto. He'll be the last Jays starting pitcher to take the mound before a pair of call-ups get the ball for the opening two games of the team's upcoming road series, which begins in Anaheim against the Angels on Friday.
The club has not announced who will pitch in place of J.A. Happ and Aaron Sanchez, both of whom are on the 10-day disabled list. But Gibbons hinted that it could be Triple-A Buffalo right-handers Mat Latos and Casey Lawrence.