Show stopper: Estrada snaps Blue Jays' skid vs. Sox
By Ian Browne and Alykhan Ravjiani
TORONTO -- Right-hander Marco Estrada helped the Blue Jays avoid being swept by Boston for the first time since 2011 after he tossed seven shutout innings in a 3-0 victory on Sunday afternoon at Rogers Centre.
Toronto was in danger of being swept by the Red Sox in a series of three games or more for the first time since June 10-12, 2011. Instead, Estrada snapped the Blue Jays' four-game losing streak after he allowed five hits and two walks while striking out eight batters.
"I really didn't know what to expect going into this game, but it was vintage Estrada, it really was," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We need that game right there. We needed a game like that."
Boston right-hander Steven Wright was the tough-luck loser, giving up just two runs (one earned) on five hits over his 6 2/3 innings, but the Red Sox's offense was unable to provide him any run support, recording just seven hits against Blue Jays pitching.
The Blue Jays opened the scoring in the first inning, loading up the bases on back-to-back singles from Kevin Pillar and Josh Donaldson and a walk to Jose Bautista. Wright induced what looked to be a potential double-play ball off the bat of Edwin Encarnacion to short, but Bautista's hard slide into second forced an errant throw from Xander Bogaerts, allowing a second Toronto run to score.
Donaldson added a solo shot in the eighth for his fourth homer in seven games this season, while Roberto Osuna finished it off with his third save of the season.
"A winning road trip, winning a series against a division opponent on the road," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "Looking forward to going home, for sure."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Rapid relay: The Blue Jays' defense shut down a third-inning Red Sox rally against Estrada. With Dustin Pedroia on first base with two outs, Bogaerts hit a ball into the right-field corner. With Pedroia charging towards the plate, Bautista relayed the ball to Ryan Goins, who fired a strike to catcher Russell Martin. Martin's tag beat Pedroia to the plate, keeping Boston off the board. Bautista entered Sunday's action ninth on the active list with 81 career outfield assists. More >
Strong turnaround by Wright: Wright did a magnificent job settling down after a rocky first inning. The knuckleballer helped preserve the bullpen by going 6 2/3 innings -- the first time any Boston starter has gone that long through the first five games. The one earned run allowed by Wright was also the lowest by any Boston starter this season.
"Obviously, every outing you want to go as deep as you can, so to be able to get into the seventh was huge," Wright said. "They put a 'W' on us, so have to tip your hat to them." More >
Missed double play costly: After loading the bases with nobody out in the first, it looked like Wright was about to get a double-play ball off the bat of Encarnacion. But Bogaerts, who perhaps could have made the play himself, instead made a late flip to Pedroia, who then made a throwing error that allowed an extra run to score to make it 2-0.
"I thought Bogey was going to take it himself, so I kind of sat back and it happens pretty quick," Pedroia said. "I just threw high."
Donaldson does it again: Donaldson added his fourth home run in seven games this season with a solo shot to left off Boston reliever Noe Ramirez. According to Statcast™, the solo dinger was projected to travel 414 feet and left his bat at 108 mph. Donaldson, who has been dealing with a strained right calf muscle, has nine RBIs and five extra-base hits this year.
"I'm a human." -- Pedroia, when reminded by a reporter that he hardly ever makes a bad throw.
It turns out there was a reason Farrell called on Pablo Sandoval to pinch-hit in the ninth when the red-hot Brock Holt was also on the bench. In his final at-bat on Saturday, Holt fouled a ball off his right foot and was unavailable Sunday due to a bruise. Holt is confident he will be back in the lineup on Monday. Sandoval, who struck out three times in his first start of the season on Saturday, struck out swinging to end Sunday's loss.
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Estrada stopped the Red Sox from scoring six or more runs in each of their first five games for the first time since 1985.
WHAT'S NEXT Red Sox: Ace David Price draws the assignment for the Red Sox in Monday's 2:05 p.m. ET home opener against the Orioles. The lefty was dominant for most of his debut for Boston, allowing two runs while striking out 10 batters over six innings against the Indians. Price has allowed two earned runs or less in 10 of his 11 previous career regular-season starts at Fenway Park.
Blue Jays: After an off-day on Monday, right-hander Aaron Sanchez will make his second start of the season in the opener of a three-game home series against the Yankees at 7:07 p.m. ET Tuesday. Sanchez was dominant in his 2016 debut in St. Petersburg against the Rays, giving up just five hits and one run over seven innings in a no-decision. The 23-year-old made the team's rotation after an impressive Spring Training, beating out veteran Gavin Floyd.