April 15, 2011: Blue Jays 7, Red Sox 6


April 15, 2011: Blue Jays 7, Red Sox 6

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

Brady, Harbaugh found common ground on plane ride back from Michigan


Brady, Harbaugh found common ground on plane ride back from Michigan

FOXBORO -- What could have been an awkward plane ride for Tom Brady and John Harbaugh was made less so thanks to a high school lacrosse player. 

Brady and Harbaugh shared a private plane back from Michigan where Jim Harbaugh and his University of Michigan program put on an event for National Signing Day. About a year earlier, Brady told a room full of reporters that Harbaugh and his coaching staff should study the rule book and "figure it out" after hearing that they were pretty upset about the unusual formations the Patriots ran during their AFC Divisional Round win over Baltimore. 

They may not have been on the best of terms.

"I was pissed off," he told ESPN's Ian O'Connor before the start of this season. "It was uncalled for. And the rules are deeper than that, and I know the rules, and I stand by why that play shouldn't have been allowed. ... So yeah, that should never have been said."

But on the flight was Harbaugh's daughter Alison, a high school lacrosse player. When Brady took some time to share a few thoughts on competitiveness with her, he and Harbaugh found common ground.

"We had a lot of fun," Harbaugh said of the flight. "I don't know if he's talked about that at all, but we ended up sharing a plane ride along with my daughter and a couple of his people, friends of his. We just had a chance to just talk for a couple hours. And really more than anything, Alison got a chance to listen to Tom Brady talk about competing and what it takes to be great at what you do.

"And one of the funny things about it was, he was so nice to her. He gets off and they go, and we get back on the plane and we're talking, and she says something like, 'Boy, Tom really is a nice guy.' And I look at here and go, 'Tom?' I'm thinking 'Mr. Brady' would have been more appropriate. She said, 'He said to call me Tom.' I got a kick out of that.

"It was good. Lot of respect for him and a lot of respect for what he's accomplished. He's very tough to compete against. The best quarterback that's played, certainly in this era, without question in my mind. That's how I would rank him. And it's just another tough challenge to have to play against him."

Lowry, Sullinger and Blount interrupt interview with DeRozan

Lowry, Sullinger and Blount interrupt interview with DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan didn't get a chance to answer one question in his postgame interview before being interrupted by Kyle Lowry, Jared Sullinger, and LeGarrette Blount.