4 takeaways as Red Sox allow franchise record 28 runs in loss to Jays

4 takeaways as Red Sox allow franchise record 28 runs in loss to Jays

Red Sox

The Blue Jays had an inside-the-park grand slam and many, many more highlights.

Raimel Tapia slides home safely for an inside-the-park grand slam. Brian Fluharty/Getty Images

It was the kind of play you might see in a Little League game, or perhaps a rec softball game, but one you’d never, ever expect to see in a Major League game. 

A play so shocking and stupefying that you wouldn’t believe a friend at a bar if they told you what happened. You’d need to watch the video several times to make sure you saw it correctly.

With two outs in the third inning Friday, and the bases juiced, Blue Jays center fielder Raimel Tapia swung at an Austin Davis slider and lofted it to center field. Tapia slumped his shoulders and dejectedly drooped toward the ground, convinced he had flown out. 

He started running, just in case, and suddenly he realized Red Sox center fielder Jarren Duran had absolutely no clue where the ball was. None, whatsoever. Duran stood on the grass with his palms facing skyward, dazed and confused as the ball soared over his head and landed 30 feet behind him on the warning track. Once he saw it, he stood totally frozen and barely moved.

“It’s the most helpless feeling you could ever feel,” Duran said. “Until you guys catch a fly ball in twilight, let me know.”

The leadoff hitter Tapia, now fully aware of what was unfolding, started sprinting. He lost his helmet near second base, rounded third on a mission, and belly-flopped onto home plate for an inside-the-park grand slam to highlight an appalling 28-5 Blue Jays beatdown at Fenway Park. 

It was the lowest lowlight for the Red Sox in a night that featured plenty. The 28 runs is a franchise record — not the good kind, and one that stood 99 years — as they looked lost and out of sorts the entire way.

Duran’s miscue loomed large.

This was just the third inside-the-park grand slam this millennium and the second time a Blue Jay has ever hit one. The other was Junior Felix, in 1989, also at Fenway Park. 

Afterward, Duran blamed the twilight, and manager Alex Cora said he doesn’t believe Duran ever saw it. Duran said he didn’t chase after the ball because Alex Verdugo was already going after it.

“I mean, Dugie was right there already,” Duran said. “Obviously I should have taken a step or two, but he was already going to beat me to the ball. I just didn’t want to get in his way. What if I sprinted to it and collided with him or something like that? Next time I know to take one or two steps.”

A lot more went wrong for the Red Sox.

While the play encapsulated everything that went wrong for the Red Sox in their first game after the All-Star break, it was just one miscue in a night full of them. 

In the top of the first, starter Nathan Eovaldi (2 ⅔ innings, 8 hits, 9 earned runs, 3 strikeouts, 2 walks) fielded a ground ball and threw to first for an out instead of looking home or to second for a double play. Two innings later, Alex Verdugo leaped on the warning track with his glove facing the wrong way and missed a fly ball. 

In the fourth, Davis fielded a routine ground ball, spun clockwise, and threw the ball past first baseman Christian Vázquez (playing in a largely unfamiliar spot out of necessity). The next inning, catcher Kevin Plawecki, third baseman Rafael Devers, and pitcher Kaleb Ott formed a triangle and watched as the ball plopped between them. In the sixth, Vázquez tried to corral a high throw and spin to tag Santiago Espinal but couldn’t get him in time. The scoreboard only showed two errors, but it felt like way more. 

“It was tough to watch,” Cora said. “It was tough to be in the dugout, to be honest with you. They know it, and I know it.”

The Blue Jays also crushed the ball.

Self-inflicted wounds were costly, but they weren’t the sole reason the Red Sox lost. The Blue Jays also happened to absolutely obliterate the baseball. 

They scored one in the first, two in the second, seven in the third, four in the fourth, 11 in the fifth (their most in an inning since 2016, and all with two outs), and two in the sixth. Finally, in the seventh, Jake Diekman pitched a scoreless inning.

After a ghastly fifth inning, an audacious young man got down on one knee and proposed. She said yes, and it was about all that went right on a dark and gloomy night.

The Blue Jays came astonishingly close to the modern-day record of 30 runs in a game, set by the Rangers in 2007. They had 29 hits, every starter scored at least two runs, and three players had at least five RBIs. They became the first team since 1922 to score 25 runs through five innings. 

The Red Sox trailed by football scores of 6-0, 14-0, 14-3, 17-3, 21-3, and 27-3. You best believe folks were ready with their 28-3 Falcons memes, just in case. The Sox came quite close to the most lopsided loss in Red Sox history, a 27-3 defeat to Cleveland in 1923. Their minus-47 run differential over the last three games is the worst in the modern era, and they’ve now lost 11 of 14 games. 

This was a major setback, but there’s still time to recover.

Cora said all the Red Sox can do at this point is move on and focus on Saturday’s game. While it was largely an extremely discouraging showing, it wasn’t all bleak.

Vázquez was a bright spot, with two home runs, and Jackie Bradley Jr. and Rob Refsnyder also belted solo home runs for the Red Sox. They showed periodic signs of life, but this was a true beatdown from start to finish. 

Cora spoke pregame about how there’s plenty of baseball left to be played. He’s aware of the chatter leading up to the trade deadline, but he doesn’t put much stock into the rumors.

“At the end of the day, what we do as an organization is try to get better this season and in the future,” Cora said. “We’ve been very loud about it. The standings are the standings, and we’re going to be judged by what we do.”

Well, this was a chance to start fresh, and frankly, it couldn’t have gone any worse. It was just one game, but it felt like a whole lot more. It felt like a team destined for a last-place finish reaching an all-time low.

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