Sox knuckled under by Jays in loss
Wakefield endures loss after rough five-run fifth inning
TORONTO -- For just a moment on Friday night, it looked like the Red Sox were going to have a rousing start to their weekend in Toronto. With the bases loaded and two outs in the first inning, David Ortiz took a big swing and lofted the type of high drive to center that was routine until this season.
But before you could say grand slam, the ball landed safely in the glove of center fielder Vernon Wells, just in front of the wall. The opportunity was lost, and eventually, so was the night.
With the roof closed at the Rogers Centre, the Blue Jays mounted a solid attack against Tim Wakefield's knuckleball en route to a 6-3 victory over the Red Sox.
After a promising start by Ortiz -- he hit a laser to first for his second out -- it was another 0-for-4 night for the mightily slumping slugger, who is hitting .189 with one homer and 18 RBIs.
"You know what, all I can do about myself right now is laugh because [I'm not] going to cry," Ortiz said. "Laugh, keep on swinging and wait for the good-luck charm to show up, because there's nothing else I can do."
The Jays had lost nine in a row coming in, making this a win to savor.
The Red Sox were trying to establish some elusive momentum on the road after splitting a four-game set in Minnesota. But it was not to be, as Boston is now 11-15 away from Fenway.
The bright spot of the night for the Sox was the performance of flame-throwing rookie reliever Daniel Bard, who struck out five over 2 1/3 shutout innings.
"My breaking ball was good," Bard said. "I changed my grip actually between this outing and my last one. I was using my new grip. I like it, I felt good. That's what I expect of myself. Not necessarily with the strikeouts but getting outs, executing pitches. I think if you do that, you should get hitters out at any level. There's an adjustment level any time you're moving up."
However, by the time Bard came on, the damage had already been done. With two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Jays erupted for five runs, overturning a 2-1 deficit and taking control for the rest of the night.
Scott Rolen belted an RBI double in that game-changing fifth to tie the game. Lyle Overbay gave the Jays their first lead on an RBI double to right. Rod Barajas smacked a two-run single and Marco Scutaro chipped in with an RBI double to center and suddenly the Jays were comfortably ahead by a score of 6-2.
"I was struggling throwing strikes and when I did throw strikes, it was pretty good," said Wakefield. "I just didn't make the pitch I needed to in the fifth inning. I had two outs, runner on second, ahead in the count 1-2, especially with [Kevin] Millar, I couldn't put him away. It's just one of those things. I felt like I was throwing good knuckleballs. They just laid off the really, really good ones down in the zone, especially Millar. Tip your hat to them. One of those days."
The Jays didn't see their in-game eruption coming -- not the way Wakefield looked early.
"I'm not going to lie, I thought his knuckleball was better today than it was when we faced him down in Boston," said Barajas. "I had no chance my first two at-bats. That ball was starting at about my chest and it was ending up at my feet. I thought I didn't have a chance against him tonight, but in that fifth inning he just left some up."
The Red Sox attempted to set a tone early, even after Ortiz's near miss.
Jacoby Ellsbury, a day after having his 22-game hitting streak snapped, started a new one with an RBI double to right in the second. That gave the Red Sox a 1-0 lead. The Jays got that run back in the third on a two-out, RBI double to left by Rolen.
In the fourth, Ellsbury again came through for Boston, ripping an RBI single up the middle. That 2-1 lead didn't last long for the Red Sox.
It was just not Wakefield's night, as he gave up nine hits and six runs over 4 2/3 innings. He walked four and struck out five.
J.D. Drew broke out of an 0-for-13 drought by ripping a solo homer ot center in the seventh, making it 6-3.
But that was as close as Boston would get. One will never know how the game would have unfolded if Ortiz's first-inning drive had indeed gone that extra couple of feet.
"I knew he hit the ball pretty well," Drew said. "It sure would have been nice for him and for us. He squared it up pretty well."
Ortiz at least took some solace in that.
"I can't swing the bat no better than that," said Ortiz. "Things just aren't happening. Where you hit the ball, you have no control over that. You have to wait for the ball to go somewhere nobody's at. They get paid to catch it. I get paid to hit it."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.