July 19th, 2024

Red Sox slug four solo homers in 7-3 win over Blue Jays in series opener

By Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press on June 17, 2024.

Boston Red Sox designated hitter Tyler O'Neill hits a solo home run against Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Yusei Kikuchi during first inning American League MLB baseball action in Toronto on Monday, June 17, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

TORONTO – The Boston Red Sox slugged four solo homers in a 7-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday night at Rogers Centre.

Canada’s Tyler O’Neill took Toronto starter Yusei Kikuchi deep on two occasions. Rafael Devers and Ceddanne Rafaela also went yard off the left-hander.

Boston outhit Toronto 11-10 in the opener of the three-game series between American League East division foes. Justin Turner and Davis Schneider hit solo homers for the Blue Jays.

Canada’s Nick Pivetta (4-4) threw seven effective innings for the win. The Victoria native allowed three earned runs, nine hits and a walk while striking out four.

Boston (38-35) has won six of its last eight games. With the loss, the Blue Jays remained under the .500 mark at 35-37.

Kikuchi (4-6) fanned the first two batters he faced before giving up back-to-back solo shots to O’Neill and Devers.

O’Neill briefly shared the team lead with 13 homers this season, but Devers moved back in front when his 424-foot blast cleared the wall in left-centre field.

Toronto halved the lead in the second inning after Turner walked and George Springer followed with a broken-bat flare that dropped in shallow right field.

Turner hustled to third base – dodging large shards of Springer’s bat on the basepath – and scored on a sacrifice fly by Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Ernie Clement reached on a single but was later thrown out on a double-steal attempt to end the inning.

Rafaela led off the third with his eighth homer of the year and O’Neill, a native of Burnaby, B.C., tagged his 14th homer later in the frame.

The Red Sox padded their lead in the fifth after opening the inning with three straight singles. Bobby Dalbec hit a liner that Kevin Kiermaier bobbled in centre field, allowing Connor Wong to score from second base without a throw.

Kikuchi struck out a pair with runners on the corners and escaped with a pickoff play that led to Romy Gonzalez being tagged out after a rundown.

The Toronto starter allowed five earned runs and seven hits over four innings. He had seven strikeouts.

Turner went deep in the sixth inning for his fifth homer of the year to briefly give the announced crowd of 29,907 some life.

Boston tacked on two insurance runs in the seventh off reliever Tim Mayza. Rob Refsnyder drove in Rafaela with a single and Jarren Duran scored on a sacrifice fly by Devers.

In the bottom half, Schneider’s ninth homer of the year nearly reached the 300 level just inside the left-field pole.

Toronto put two runners on in the ninth inning before Kenley Jansen came on to get Schneider on a pop-up, ending the game in two hours 43 minutes. It was Jansen’s 12th save of the season.

INJURY WOES

Before the game, Blue Jays right-hander Yimi Garcia was placed on the 15-day injured list due to right elbow ulnar neuritis.

Left-hander Brandon Eisert, who made 20 appearances with Triple-A Buffalo this season, was selected to the roster. The reliever pitched two scoreless innings in his big-league debut.

Boston shortstop David Hamilton left the game in the fourth inning due to left side discomfort.

VOTING UNDERWAY

Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has a slim lead on Baltimore’s Ryan Mountcastle in early voting for the American League’s first base position at the 2024 all-star game.

The first phase of all-star voting continues through June 27 at noon ET. Guerrero is looking to make his third start for the AL side and fourth career all-star appearance.

COMING UP

Chris Bassitt (6-6, 3.56 ERA) was scheduled to start for the Blue Jays on Tuesday night against fellow right-hander Tanner Houck (7-5, 2.08).

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 17, 2024.

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on X.

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