Sunday, July 2, 2017

{allcanada} Red Sox steamroll Blue Jays to sweep series


TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays were hoping to close out their homestand with a win Sunday to restore some optimism as they embark on the second half of the season.

Instead, a blowout loss to the division-leading Boston Red Sox made their last-place hole even deeper.

Mookie Betts hit two homers and drove in eight runs as the Red Sox crushed the Blue Jays 15-1 to complete a three-game sweep. Betts had four of Boston's 21 hits — including a three-run shot in the fourth inning and a two-run blast in the sixth — and scored three times.

He helped turn the game into a laugher with a two-run single in Boston's eight-run seventh inning.

"When you get to the plate, you're just expecting a good pitch to hit and you're ready for it," Betts said. "Today I was just more ready than other days."

The American League East leaders have won four in a row and six of their last seven games. The Blue Jays, meanwhile, fell 9 1/2 games behind Boston and wrapped up the homestand with a 1-5 mark.

Toronto (37-44) has dropped four in a row and eight of 10 overall.

"When you're in the middle of it, it's never fun," said Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin. "But you're one win away from believing that it's going to come back."

Toronto's bats have gone silent of late and the timing is less than ideal.

The Blue Jays entered the homestand with optimism that they were close to being in the mix with the contenders in the East. Instead they'll head to New York for a three-game series starting Monday in desperate need of victories.

"I've got a ton of confidence in them," Toronto manager John Gibbons said of his players. "It's just sometimes this game can knock you pretty good."

July is make-or-break time for bubble teams and the Blue Jays' brass may start shifting focus from the present to the future if the losing continues. Only Detroit, Chicago and Oakland were below Toronto in the American League standings entering Sunday's games.

"We've been cold for the last few days," Gibbons said. "That's got to change. In my mind, that will change."

A sellout crowd of 46,696 at Rogers Centre enjoyed bright sunshine at the start of the game. The roof closed in the third inning and Toronto's window of opportunity in this one was soon sealed along with it.

Boston (47-35) touched up starter Joe Biagini (2-8) for single runs in the first two innings and Tzu-Wei Lin and Deven Marrero reached on back-to-back bunts in the fourth. Betts followed by turning on a 2-0 pitch for his 14th homer of the season.

Betts ended Biagini's afternoon in the sixth with a homer that just curled around the left-field foul screen. Biagini struck out seven over 5 1/3 innings and allowed 10 hits, seven earned runs and two walks.

"A frustrating series for us, but there's always a certain (positive) perspective that you can choose to take so that's what I'm going to try to do this week," Biagini said.

Hanley Ramirez led off the seventh with a single and added a two-run shot — his 12th homer of the season — later in the inning as the Red Sox sent 12 batters to the plate.

Drew Pomeranz (8-4) gave up his lone run in the second inning when Justin Smoak scored on a sacrifice fly. The Boston starter worked six innings and allowed five hits and two walks while striking out three.

The game took three hours 34 minutes to play.

Notes: Before the game, the Blue Jays acquired outfield prospect Eduard Pinto from the Texas Rangers for veteran reliever Jason Grilli and cash considerations. A couple hours later, the Blue Jays sent outfielder Lane Thomas to the St. Louis Cardinals for international amateur signing bonus space. ... Right-hander Aaron Sanchez (finger) threw 95 pitches for triple-A Buffalo in what will likely be his final injury rehab start before returning to the Blue Jays. He threw 76 pitches over 4 1/3 innings. ... Toronto signed international free agent shortstops Miguel Hiraldo and Leonardo Jimenez on Sunday.

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