Recap: Red Sox 8, Blue Jays 4; Bautista’s Two Homers Weren’t Enough

Throughout Spring Training, the line from pundits was that the offense will be there, and the pitching just has to be good enough for the Blue Jays to win. However, that doesn’t quite work when a third of the team’s starting lineup is comprised of bench players. Of Ezequiel Carrera, Josh Thole, and Darwin Barney, only Barney had a hit, and it was a meaningless single after the damage had already been done by the Red Sox. Beyond Barney, the team’s only other hits came from the big four of Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Troy Tulowitzki, and Edwin Encarnacion. Of that group, Josh and Jose were the big contributors. Bautista hit a home run in each of his first two plate appearances, and Donaldson was on-base for a run each time. It just goes to show you that this team needs more than Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson in order to succeed.

Top Play of the Game by WPA

Had you only watched the first four innings of this game, you likely would have thought that the top play would be one of Bautista’s two lead-taking homers. Instead, Hanley Ramirez took the WPA crown today, with his triple in the 5th inning to score Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts. Hanley’s hit increased the Red Sox chances of winning by 24.7%, and the Blue Jays never had a prayer thereafter.

Bottom Play of the Game by WPA

The bottom play of the game came on one of R.A. Dickey’s nine strikeouts; this one to Travis Shaw in the top of the 5th inning. At the time, that strikeout kept the Jays level with the Red Sox at 4-4, decreasing the Sox’s chances of winning by 6.9%. However, it was all for naught as Hanley’s game topping triple came in the very next at bat.

The Knuckleball Danced a Little Too Much

It’s hard to say whether or not this was truly a bad start by R.A. Dickey. He had his knuckleball dancing more than we’ve seen in a long while. That movement led Dickey to strike out nine batters, his highest such total since he struck out ten Red Sox batters back on July 28th 2014. Unfortunately for the Blue Jays, the result of today’s game was far different from the 14-1 hit fest that they had back in 2014. The difference today being that while Dickey’s knuckler was moving, it was almost moving too much; he couldn’t control it at key points. In two of those cases, it led to a passed ball by Josh Thole; one of which allowed Hanley Ramirez to score. In many other cases, it led Dickey to leave a few pitches over the heart of the plate that Boston’s lineup took advantage of. I think we can do without the strikeouts if it means more weak contact in the future.

Up Next

Tomorrow, with their own knuckle ball pitcher on the mound, the Red Sox will have the opportunity to sweep the Blue Jays. That’s a feat that they didn’t accomplish at all in 2015. For their part, the Blue Jays will be tossing Marco Estrada out for his first start of the year. As well, the first 20,000 fans will get 2015 AL East Division Championship pennants. The team hasn’t been able to give one of those away in over 20 years, so that’ll fun. Hopefully the Blue Jays’ bats can match the occasion with a few more homers, and lead the team to their first home win of 2016.

Lead Photo: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

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