Blue Jays pound Lester early, sweep Red Sox

Blue Jays pound Lester early, sweep Red Sox

Blue Jays pound Lester early, sweep Red Sox
BOSTON -- The Blue Jays entered a series without the services of Jose Bautista for the first time this season, but instead of going into hibernation, the bats came to life.

Toronto put together its best offensive series of the year by scoring 28 runs over a three-game span to earn a sweep in Boston for the first time since 2009. The first two games went well, but the Blue Jays saved their best performance for last.

The Blue Jays set a season high in runs and tied a season high in hits, including four home runs, which secured a lopsided 15-7 victory over the Red Sox on Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park.

"We had a very good offensive day," manager John Farrell said after his club collected 18 hits. "The way the first inning was completed, it seemed like it was quickly going to shape up to who could score the most runs and fortunately we put together a lot of good at-bats.

"I thought we executed in many different ways, whether it was a safety squeeze, sac bunt, moving guys over, sac fly, and obviously we drove some balls out of the ballpark. But just a very good offensive day."

Toronto received at least one hit from every player in the starting lineup, while seven reached base at least twice. The final stats were something out of a video game as five players had multi-RBI games and all but one member of the starting nine scored at least one run.

The Blue Jays did almost all of their damage against Jon Lester, who had arguably the worst start of his career. He entered the game with a 2.98 ERA in eight career starts against Toronto at Fenway, but departed having surrendered a career high in both homers (four) and earned runs (11).

"It's embarrassing," said Lester, who now has a 5.46 ERA in 20 starts. "I've let my team down a lot this year. It's hard for me to walk around this clubhouse and look guys in the eye right now. I'm not pitching well. I'm not doing my job. Guys scored seven runs today; we should win that game. Like I said, it's embarrassing. That's all I can really say about it."

"That's not a typical day for Jon Lester by any means," said Farrell, who was Lester's pitching coach for four years in Boston. "He's a [darn] good pitcher, a talented one. As we've seen from our own guys, they go through stretches where things aren't clicking. It just goes to show you that the elite in this game ride a little bit of a fine line when their performances are consistent and well-above average to days when they scuffle, and that was one today."

The Blue Jays' offense got started on the first pitch of the game. Leadoff hitter Brett Lawrie sent that offering over the Green Monster to give his club a 1-0 lead. Edwin Encarnacion, J.P. Arencibia, Rajai Davis and Jeff Mathis followed with RBIs to account for the five-run frame.

Toronto's production continued in the next inning as Arencibia sent an 0-1 pitch over the Green Monster for a three-run shot. It was Arencibia's fourth homer and 11th RBI in his past 12 games. Davis then came through with a solo shot to left, which marked the fifth time the Blue Jays this season have recorded back-to-back home runs.

Lester settled down for at least a couple of innings before the wheels came off again in the fifth. Davis led off the inning with a walk and he came around to score on Travis Snider's first home run of the year, which went to straightaway center field.

The Boston left-hander allowed nine hits while walking five and striking out two. Lester has allowed 21 runs in his past 12 1/3 innings and has not pitched five or more innings in any of his last three outings.

"I think the boys set the tone early," said Snider, who drove in three. "First pitch of the game, Lawrie comes out swinging, then J.P. and the rest of the at-bats we put together against a good pitcher like Lester ... To come out with a sweep is really something to build off of."

The onslaught of runs helped make a winner out of Henderson Alvarez despite an inconsistent afternoon. The right-hander surrendered three runs in the first on a home run by Adrian Gonzalez, then gave up a sacrifice fly to Mike Aviles in the fourth and a solo homer to Jacoby Ellsbury in the fifth.

Alvarez came back out to start the sixth and should have been out of the inning when a fly ball was hit to Davis with two outs. But Davis lost the ball in the sun, which allowed the inning to continue, and two runs would cross the plate before the Blue Jays escape.

The 22-year-old Alvarez was charged with seven runs on eight hits, walked two and struck out two in 5 2/3 innings.

"There are times when he comes out he's so strong he throws right through his sink and he doesn't quite have his release point," Farrell said of Alvarez, who has a 7.58 ERA in the first inning this season.

"He's a guy that hitters know coming in to look hard. It's going to be fastball or changeup ... He throws a lot of strikes and if his location isn't a little more fine early in the game, that's when he can run into a little bit of difficulty."

Toronto's road trip, which started off by the Blue Jays getting swept by the Yankees, now comes to an end with the club recording a sweep of its own. That allowed the club to move ahead of Boston and out of last place in the American League East.

"Our team has been able to bounce back," said Arencibia, who had six RBIs in the series. "It's pretty crazy. When we've gotten swept, we've either been able to bounce back with a sweep or win a series. It's kind of a credit to the pitchers to keep us in the game and the hitters to go out there and do what we need to do."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.