Boston Red Sox

Pearce go-ahead single in eighth leads Blue Jays over Red Sox, 4-3

Pearce go-ahead single in eighth leads Blue Jays over Red Sox, 4-3

BOSTON -- Blue Jays reliever Ryan Tepera couldn't believe his eyes when he looked up and saw that he was the winning pitcher - his fifth career victory.

Starter Marcus Stroman was the best pitcher of the game, taking a three-hit shutout into the seventh inning and leaving without allowing an earned run. Dominic Leone relieved him, and was the pitcher of record when Toronto took the lead for good.

But Tepera was awarded the victory by official scorer Bob Ellis, who ruled that Leone didn't deserve it after allowing a game-tying double on the only pitch he threw.

"I thought it was a mistake, but I'll take it," Tepera said, breaking into a laugh after the Blue Jays beat Boston 4-3 on Monday night. "I mean, wins don't really matter as relievers, as long as we win as a team."

Steve Pearce hit a solo homer, then added the go-ahead single in the eighth inning to lead Toronto a victory in the series opener. Stroman shut the Red Sox down for most of the game, but took a no-decision after they scored three unearned runs to tie it in the seventh.

After Andrew Benintendi doubled, Stroman failed to get his foot on the bag when covering first on Jackie Bradley Jr.'s grounder. Christian Vazquez walked to load the bases. Brock Holt's sacrifice fly scored one run, and Mookie Betts singled in another to chase Stroman.

Leone came in, and Dustin Pedroia banged his first and only pitch off the Green Monster. One run scored on the double, and Betts was thrown out at the plate after running through a stop sign from the third base coach.

Tepera (5-1) pitched a perfect eighth. Baseball Rule 9.17 (c) states: "The official scorer shall not credit as the winning pitcher a relief pitcher who is ineffective in a brief appearance, when at least one succeeding relief pitcher pitches effectively in helping his team maintain its lead."

"That's the game of baseball for ya," Leone said. "From Marcus' six innings - that's why baseball is crazy. He deserves that win, no matter what. He pitched his butt off. It's crazy with one pitch the game can switch like that, and the whole win-loss thing kind of gets tossed up for grabs, really."

Toronto went back in front in the eighth when Pearce singled to score pinch-runner Ezequiel Carrera from third.

Roberto Osuna pitched the ninth for his 23rd save.

Heath Hembree (1-3) took the loss.

MISSING SIGNS

Betts took responsibility for missing the sign from third base coach Brian Butterfield.

"I didn't even see Butter put up the stop sign. That's my fault for not looking up," Betts said. "I was just thinking, `score.'"

FOR STARTERS

Stroman allowed three unearned runs on five hits and three walks, striking out five. Boston's Eduardo Rodriguez, who was activated from the disabled list (right knee) for the game, allowed three runs on six hits and four walks, striking out eight in 5 1/3 innings.

"I thought with the layoff that Eddie had that was a strong five-plus innings of work here tonight," Red Sox manager John Farrell said.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Home plate umpire Chris Segal remained in the game after getting hit in the head by Josh Donaldson's bat in the first inning. Donaldson, the third batter in the game, swung at a pitch from Rodriguez and lost the handle on his bat. It flew behind him and hit Segal on the top of the head. Segal, who was wearing a mask but no helmet, went back to the ground and remained there until the training staff came running out. After a few minutes, Segal was smiling.

UP NEXT

Blue Jays: LHP J.A. Happ (3-6) starts in Game 2 of the series at 7:10 p.m.

Red Sox: Brian Johnson (2-0) is expected to be recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket to make the start.

Drellich: Pomeranz, league's second-best lefty, knows how to be even better

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Drellich: Pomeranz, league's second-best lefty, knows how to be even better

BOSTON — Drew Pomeranz may not actually be the No. 2 starter for the Red Sox in this year’s presumed American League Division Series. Maybe the Sox will mix in a right-hander between Pomeranz and Chris Sale.

Still, everyone knows which pitcher, in spirit, has been the second-most reliable for the Red Sox. A day after Chris Sale notched his 300th strikeout and on the final off-day of the regular season, it’s worth considering the importance of the other excellent lefty on the Sox, and how much he’s meant to a team that’s needed surprise performances because of the lineup’s drop-off.

Per FanGraphs’ wins above replacement, Pomeranz is the second-most valuable lefthanded starter among those qualified in the American League (you know who's No. 1). He's one of the 10 best starters in the AL overall.

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Pomeranz, 28, was a first-round pick seven years ago. But he didn’t exactly blossom until the last two years. He has a 3.15 ERA in 165 2/3 innings. His next start, if decent, should give him a career-high in innings after he threw 170 2/3 last year.

Pomeranz is a 16-game winner, just one win behind Sale. The value of wins and losses is known to be nil, but there’s still a picture of reliability that can be gleaned.

Is this the year Pomeranz became the pitcher he always envisioned he would be?

“I don’t know, I mean, I had a pretty dang good year last year,” Pomeranz said, referring to a 3.32 ERA between the Padres and Sox, and an All-Star selection. “I think these last two years have been kind of you know, more what I wanted to be like. But I still, I don’t think I’m done yet, you know what I mean?”

Most pro athletes say there’s always room to improve. Pomeranz, however, was able to specify what he wants. The focus is on his third and fourth pitches: his cutter and his change-up. 

“My changeup’s been really good this year,” Pomeranz said. “That’s something that still can go a lot further. And same with my cutter too. I still use it sparingly. I don’t think me just being a six-inning guy is the end of it for me either.

“You set personal goals. You want to throw more innings, cover more innings so the bullpen doesn’t have to cover those. Helps save them for right now during the year.”

Early in the year, Pomeranz wasn’t using his cutter much. He threw just nine in April, per BrooksBaseball.net. That led to talk that he wasn’t throwing the pitch to take it easy on his arm. He did start the year on the disabled list, after all, and cutters and sliders can be more stressful on the elbow and forearm.

That wasn’t the case.

“The reason I didn’t throw it in the beginning of the year was because half the times I threw it went the other way,” Pomeranz said. “It backed up. Instead of cutting, it was like sinking or running back. I mean, I pitched [in Baltimore] and gave up a home run to [Manny] Machado, we were trying to throw one in and it went back. So I didn’t trust it.

“Mechanical thing. I was still trying to clean my mechanics up, and once I cleaned ‘em up and got my arm slot right, then everything started moving the way it was supposed to and then I started throwing it more.”

Pomeranz’s cutter usage, and how he developed the pitch heading into 2016, has been well documented.

The change-up is more of an X-factor. He threw five in each of his last two starts, per Brooks, and it’s a pitch he wants to use more.

“It’s been good,” Pomeranz said. “I think I could throw it a lot more and a lot more effectively, and ... tweaking of pitch selection probably could help me get into some of those later innings too.”

Well, then why not just throw the change more often? Easier said than done when you’re talking about your fourth pitch in a key moment.

“I throw a few a game,” Pomeranz said. “Sometimes you feel like you don’t want too throw it in situations where you get beat with your third or fourth best pitch. I mean it’s felt — every time I’ve thrown it it’s been consistent. It’s just a matter of, it’s something me and Vazqy [Christian Vazquez] talk about, too." 

(When you hear these kind of issues, which most pitchers deal with, it makes you appreciate Sale’s ability to throw any pitch at any time even more.)

Speaking on Wednesday, the day after Pomeranz’s most recent outing, Sox pitching coach Carl Willis said he thinks the change-up’s already starting to have a greater presence.

“He’s kind of always had a changeup, and he hadn’t had any trust or conviction in that pitch,” Willis said. “I was really excited last night that he used the changeup more. He threw it. He doubled up with it on occasion. Something that’s not in the scouting report.

"It’s his fourth pitch and he seldom threw it in a game and he’s in a situation where, OK, the change-up’s the right pitch, but location of whatever I throw is going to outweigh [selection]. Now he’s starting to gain that confidence [that he can locate it]. 

“I think that’s going to make him an extremely better pitcher. I thought it was a huge factor in his outing last night. Because he didn’t have his best velocity. He really did a good job of changing speeds with the changeup, and obviously with the curveball and being able to give different shapes of the pitches.”

The Sox already have the best left-hander in the AL, if not anywhere. The AL's second-best southpaw happens to pitch on the same team, and has tangible plans to be even better.

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Werner criticizes Price for Eck incident; says Sox' relationship with Yanks is 'frosty'

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Werner criticizes Price for Eck incident; says Sox' relationship with Yanks is 'frosty'

BOSTON — Red Sox chairman Tom Werner doesn’t seem to be the biggest fan of the the Yankees, MLB disciplinarian Joe Torre, and players who can’t take criticism from broadcasters.

In a spot Thursday with WEEI, Werner made clear David Price’s handling of Dennis Eckersley was unprofessional.

“Boston is a tough place to play,” Werner said on WEEI’s Ordway, Merlonia and Fauria. “Some players thrive here, and some players don’t. Get a thicker skin. My feeling is, let the broadcasts be honest, be personable, informative, and get over it if you think a certain announcer took a shot at you.”

“I thought there was a way of handling that. It wasn’t handled appropriately. If I’ve got a problem with Lou [Merloni], and I hear something he says on the radio, I’ll say to Lou, ‘That wasn’t fair.’ ”

Werner also called the team’s relationship with the Yankees “frosty” following the public sign-stealing saga that resulted in fines for both clubs.

“The fact is, I do think this was a minor technical violation,” Werner said. “I start with the fact that this was unfortunately raised to a level it never should have been raised to.”

Werner also insinuated he did not approve of how MLB and Torre handled the disciplining of Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, who receieved a four-game suspension for his part in a fight against the Tigers (reduced on appeal to three games).

“Do you think Gary Sanchez got an appropriate punishment?” Werner asked.