Rapid Reaction: Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 2
April, 9, 2012
By Gordon Edes | ESPNBoston.com
TORONTO -- A ninth-inning bullpen implosion -- but this time it happened to the other guys.
And standing at the front of a conga line of relieved Red Sox was one Alfredo Aceves, No. 91 in your program, something less than that in your hearts, although maybe you’ll reconsider after Aceves recorded his first save for the Red Sox in Boston’s first win of 2012, 4-2 over the Toronto Blue Jays.
There was ninth-inning drama, of course, but this time it came at the expense of Toronto closer Sergio Santos, who was booed from the premises after giving up three runs in the top of the ninth.
Aceves, meanwhile, set down all three Jays he faced in the bottom of the ninth, striking out Eric Thames between two ground-ball outs.
Pedroia power: Dustin Pedroia’s sixth-inning home run was his first of the season, and his ninth-inning double touched off the Sox's three-run uprising in the ninth. Pedroia took third on a ball that got past catcher J.P. Arencibia and scored the tying run on Adrian Gonzalez’s sacrifice fly. Walks to David Ortiz and Cody Ross followed, with Darnell McDonald running for Ortiz once he advanced to second.
Ryan Sweeney then grounded a single through the right side. Jose Bautista’s throw to the plate arrived ahead of McDonald, but bounced away from Arencibia, the tie-breaking run scoring. A wild pitch by Sergio Santos scored Sweeney, and it was 4-2.
Felix Doubront threw 15 first-pitch strikes, went to an 0-and-2 count on eight batters, and struck out six in five innings of work. He handled Jays strongman Jose Bautista with relative ease, inducing a ground-ball double play in the first, a line-drive out in the third and a foul popup in the fifth, all three at-bats coming with runners on base.
The Jays scored both of their runs off Doubront in the third, Colby Rasmus tripling into the gap in right-center (and just beating a strong relay by Pedroia) with one out. Doubront then issued a four-pitch walk to Yunel Escobar before Kelly Johnson hit a tapper in front of the plate. Doubront fielded the ball and flipped to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but Rasmus slid around the catcher and beat the tag, according to plate umpire Marvin Hudson. TV replays were inconclusive.
Edwin Encarnacion then lined a two-out single to score Escobar.
The “other” Venezuelan shines: As good as Doubront was, the Sox could do little against 21-year-old phenom Henderson Alvarez, who hails from the same state in Venezuela (Carabobo), as Doubront. Alvarez, who is nine days shy from his 22nd birthday, is the youngest pitcher to start a home opener for Toronto. Last September he faced the Sox and held them scoreless for six innings on four hits, and he nearly duplicated that feat Monday night, shutting the Sox out until Pedroia’s home run with one out in the sixth.
A for Atchison: Journeyman reliever Scott Atchison kept it close with three scoreless innings of relief, allowing only an infield hit and striking out three. He was rewarded for his efforts by the Sox rally in the ninth.
He’s David Ortiz, not Dave Roberts: With the Sox down a run in the seventh, Ortiz led off with a single, then was erased trying to steal second base. Was it a failed sneak attack or a missed sign? The answer will have to wait until after the game.
More angst for Youk: Kevin Youkilis was back in the lineup after a one-game absence, but went 0-for-4 and is hitless in his first 12 ABs this season. Youkilis battled through a 10-pitch at-bat before grounding out to third, then launched a deep drive that died on the track in right. Youkilis is the only Sox player without a hit this season.
Full house: The Rogers Centre is a different place when it’s packed, which only happens these days for the opener. There were 48,473 on hand, and this team should be good enough to sustain some interest this summer.