By Maureen Mullen
BOSTON The two days off, which the Red Sox had been hopeful would give them a physical and mental break to their dismal start of the season, did little to change their fortunes or lack of such -- as they fell to the Blue Jays, 7-6, in the first of their four-game series at Fenway Park.
Clay Buchholz, who was not involved in the decision, lasted just five innings, giving up three runs on three hits and five walks with three strikeouts. The three runs he allowed all reached base by walks. He threw 94 pitches, 46 for strikes an unhealthy 48.9 percent. Despite his ineffectiveness, Buchholzs ERA dropped, from 7.20 entering the game, to 6.60.
The Blue Jays saved most of their damage for Bobby Jenks (0-1), who took the loss. Prior to the game, Jenks had not allowed a run in four appearances, spanning four innings. In one-third of an inning against the Jays, he allowed four earned runs on four hits, a walk, and a wild pitch, with one strikeout.
The offense fared no better than the pitching. The Sox managed just five hits, dropping their team average from .230 entering the game to .224. Three runs came on second-inning home runs a solo shot into the first row of the Green Monster by Dustin Pedroia, and a two-run blast into the bleachers by Kevin Youkilis, his first of the season, scoring Adrian Gonzalez, who had walked. They added three in the seventh when Youkilis and David Ortiz walked, with Youkilis scoring on Jed Lowrie's pinch-hit infield single. Ortiz and Lowrie then scored on Marco Scutaro's double. The Red Sox were just 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
With the loss, the Sox fall to 2-10, maintaining their record as the worst team in baseball.
Player of the Game: Brett Cecil
Cecil (1-1) earned his first win of the season in his third start. It was also his third straight win against the Red Sox, after losing the first three starts of his career. The Jays left-hander held the Sox to three runs on two hits the second-inning home runs by Pedroia and Youkilis and four walks with five strikeouts over six innings. It was just the third time in his career he has allowed two or fewer hits while going at least six innings.
Honorable Mention: Aaron Hill
Hill went 3-for-4, with an RBI. It was his first multi-hit game of the season, raising his average 46 points from .170 entering the game to .216, while raising his career average at Fenway to .307 (51-for-166) in 43 games. He also had two stolen bases, a career single-game high. In the Jays' four-run seventh inning, with Hill at the plate, a Bobby Jenks wild pitch scored a run, and Hill then drove in Adam Lind for the Jays seventh and decisive run of the night.
The Goat: Bobby Jenks
Although Clay Buchholz had has third ineffective start of the season,lasting just five innings (plus two batters in the sixth), it was Jenks who let it get away. In his first four outings this season, spanning four innings, he had not allowed a run.Jenks entered the game Friday night to start the seventh, with the score tied, 3-3. He allowed the first two batters to reach, walking his first batter, Toronto No. 9 hitter, Jayson Nix, before giving up a single to Yunel Escobar. After striking out Corey Patterson, Jenks gave up consecutive RBI singles to Jose Bautista, Lind, and Hill and a run-scoring a wild pitch to Hill. Jenks was done after that along with the Red Sox' chances for a win. Jenks line: one-third of an inning, six batters, four runs (all earned) on four hits and a walk, with a strikeout and a wild pitch. His ERA jumped from 0.00 to 8.31.
Turning Point: Offensive ineptitude
While Jenks inning may have doomed them, the offenses inability to score runs did not help. The Sox' rally in the eighth inning scored four runs, one shy of tying the game. With hits in the game hard to come by the Sox went 5-for-33, lowering their team average from .230 to .224 the Sox could not capitalize on Toronto pitching struggles in the eighth. The Sox sent seven batters to the plate in the inning, scoring three runs, capped by Marco Scutaros two-out, two-run double off Casey Janssen, the second Jays pitcher of the inning, who entered to face the Boston shortstop. But Jacoby Ellsbury swung at Janssens first pitch, a 90-mph fastball, flying out to right field with the tying run on second base, ending the Sox rally and hopes for just their third win of the season.
The Red Sox were 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position in the game, and are now nine for their last 60 in those situations, for a .150 average with runners in scoring position.
By the Numbers: 7
Red Sox pitchers gave up seven walks (five by Buchholz, one by Jenks, one by Jonathan Papelbon). The Jays' first four runs were scored by batters who reached base on walks. All three runs Buchholz allowed were scored by runners who walked. That includes a four-pitch walk to Lind to lead off the sixth.
Quote of Note
I just never could find a feel. Made some big pitches when I needed to a couple times. But, yeah, other than that it was a battle all night, just trying to throw pitches where I wanted to throw them at some point. One of the points, I guess it was the fourth inning, trying to throw the ball down the middle and just couldnt find a feel for it. -- Clay Buchholz, on his struggles against the Blue Jays Friday night.
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen