TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays were forced to search for small victories Wednesday after dropping a 7-1 decision to the Boston Red Sox.
Starter Ross Stripling threw a season-high five innings, the team's high-leverage relievers got a much-needed break and backup infielder Gosuke Katoh doubled in the fourth inning for his first big-league hit.
There was little else to choose from as the Blue Jays had an uneventful performance after the dramatics of a walk-off win a night earlier.
Stripling, initially tabbed for a long-relief role with some occasional starts, continued his progression as he fills in for injured starter Hyun Jin Ryu.
"That was perfect," Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said of Stripling's 84-pitch effort. "That was actually how we mapped it out. A good five innings and then Trent (Thornton) right behind him because our bullpen was thin."
Stripling struck out seven and allowed five hits and one earned run.
"I feel great," he said. "I feel like I've made the jump and built up well and feel strong about where I'm at."
The Red Sox took the lead in the sixth inning and tacked on a pair in the eighth and another deuce in the ninth to end a four-game skid.
Xander Bogaerts had four hits and scored twice while Boston starter Michael Wacha threw six strong innings to send Toronto to its second loss in eight games.
The victory came in Red Sox manager Alex Cora's return to the dugout after missing six games due to COVID-19.
"He’s been here for a while now (and) most of the guys are very comfortable with him," Bogaerts said. "His view on the game from the dugout perspective is always on point. He always kind of seems to make the right decision."
Rafael Devers and J.D. Martinez added two hits apiece as Boston outhit Toronto 13-5. Wacha (2-0) allowed four hits, two walks and an earned run with five strikeouts.
Bogaerts fouled a pitch off his left shin in the first inning but stayed in the game after meeting with the team trainer. He would reach on an infield single and scored on a double by Devers.
Boston (8-11) threatened again in the third inning after loading the bases with three singles. Stripling fanned Devers and J.D. Martinez to keep it a one-run game.
Toronto (12-7) caught a break in the bottom half of the frame when Boston second baseman Trevor Story bobbled a tailor-made double-play ball from Bo Bichette, leaving runners on the corners with one out.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., brought home Tyler Heineman with Toronto's lone run on a slow roller to Bogaerts at shortstop, who went to second for the force.
Bogaerts and Devers hit back-to-back singles in the sixth inning off Thornton (0-1). Bogaerts scored on a Martinez flare to shallow right field and Kike Hernandez hit a sacrifice fly that scored Devers without a throw home.
Boston scored a pair in the eighth off Julian Merryweather. Triple-A call-up Andrew Vasquez and Bowden Francis -- who made his big-league debut -- pitched the ninth inning for Toronto as Boston sealed the rout.
Announced attendance at Rogers Centre was a season-low 20,468. The game took three hours five minutes to play.
Blue Jays left-handed reliever Ryan Borucki was added to the 10-day injured list due to a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand. He was on the IL earlier this month due to a strained right hamstring.
The Blue Jays will have a chance to tie a franchise record this weekend when the Houston Astros are in town for a three-game series.
Toronto's win over Boston on Tuesday guaranteed that the Blue Jays will not lose this four-game series against the Red Sox. The Blue Jays have won or split their first six series to start a regular season, one short of the team mark set in 1992.
HOME RUN FUN
Toronto started the day in the big-league lead with 26 homers this season. The Los Angeles Angels were next with 24.
The Blue Jays led the majors with 262 home runs last season.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 27, 2022.
Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.
Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press