Long balls doom Red Sox vs. Blue Jays
Wells endures second consecutive tough start in loss to Toronto
TORONTO -- Perhaps the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Fenway Park will be the perfect remedy for David Wells. Old home week certainly hasn't done much good for the veteran left-hander.
Facing two of his former teams on mounds he used to call home -- first Yankee Stadium and then the Rogers Centre (formerly SkyDome) on Saturday afternoon -- has added up to an 0-2 start for Wells. The Blue Jays lowered the boom on the Boomer for nine hits and six runs over 6 1/3 innings en route to a 12-5 victory over the Red Sox.
The biggest indignity for Wells was surrendering back-to-back-to-back solo homers in the third, with Vernon Wells, Corey Koskie and Shea Hillenbrand performing the honors. That gave the Jays an early 5-1 lead.
It was the first time a Red Sox pitcher has given up three consecutive home runs since July 9, 1988, when Wes Gardner performed the dubious feat at the old Comiskey Park against the White Sox.
"If it happens, it happens," said Wells. "You can't do nothing about it."
What Wells did about it was settle right down after that, holding the Jays to two hits over the rest of his outing.
"He did pitch real well to keep us in that game after that," said Sox catcher Jason Varitek.
And David Ortiz, as he has a habit of doing, brought the Sox right back into it with one swing, launching a 420-foot three-run homer to center against Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay in the sixth. Suddenly, the Sox were down by just a run thanks to Ortiz's shot, which hit the facing below the hotel bar in center field. The Sox tied it in the seventh on a fielder's choice grounder by Trot Nixon. As it turned out, the comeback was short-lived.
Wells came back out for the seventh and Alex Rios touched him up for a leadoff double. Wells struck out Gregg Zaun and just as he was about to prepare to get out of the inning, acting manager Brad Mills went to the bullpen and brought on Matt Mantei.
"At that time," said Mills, "I thought [Matt} Mantei had a better chance at getting the hitters I knew they were going to pinch-hit with. And mainly with strikeouts at that time."
That move did not please Wells, who had his competitive juices flowing after getting into a rhythm.
"I don't like coming out of games, to be honest with you," Wells said. "But they saw the matchup with Frankie [Menechino] and they made the decision. I wasn't happy about it, but that's part of the game. You just have to deal with it."
Mantei couldn't get it done. Russ Adams hit for Menechino and struck for a single up the middle; Frank Catalanotto followed with an RBI single to left that put the Jays up for good.
"I just made bad pitches when I needed to make a good one," Mantei said. "The first hit was a good pitch, he just went with it. It ended up costing us the game right there, because I needed to come in and get that out."
What cost the Sox more occurred in the eighth inning, when the Jays erupted for six runs, highlighted by Zaun's grand slam against Blaine Neal.
"Our choices were getting limited at that time," said Mills. "We got these guys, and they're [going to] be needed, and they're going to be OK. They'll be fine. They'll be all right."
As for Wells, he feels that it can only get better from here.
"Right now, I'm going through a bad stretch," Wells said. "I've had two bad games in a row. It's not the first time, it probably won't be the last time. You just have to keep plugging away. That's all you can do.
"It's just a matter of time, getting out there and getting on a good roll. Right now, I'm on a bad one."
Wells will get an extra day of rest to figure things out, as his next start comes Friday night at Fenway against the Devil Rays.
"It's always nice to come back to Toronto," said Wells. "It's a good city. You wish other cities could be as good as this one. It's one of my favorite cities to hang out in."
However, on this day, it wasn't one of his favorite cities to pitch in. But perhaps the box score belies the fact that Wells might have found something in the latter stages of this one.
"He found himself real well after that and clicked along real well," Mills said. "And he started making some pitches when he had to and got in a groove and really started moving through those next three innings."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.