BOSTON (AP) — The biggest bats in the Red Sox lineup have struggled to produce this season. Mitch Moreland continues to do his part to fill in the gaps.
Moreland hit two home runs, including a walk-off shot over the Green Monster to send Boston past the Toronto Blue Jays 5-3 Sunday.
“I knew I needed to make something happen,” Moreland said. “The guy, he threw a lot of soft. I went up there kind of trying to see a pitch up in the zone and able to get it.”
It was the fourth walk-off home run of Moreland’s career and first since Aug. 4, 2017, against the Chicago White Sox. Moreland has six home runs in only 31 at-bats this season, a solid boost for a team that's waiting for the likes of J.D. Martinez and Andrew Benintendi to break loose.
It gave Boston its first series win of the season with a division matchup with Tampa Bay up next.
Moreland was mobbed by teammates as after he crossed home plate, skirting the league's social distancing polices. He also received a bucket of ice water over his head, and Moreland deemed it a necessary celebration for a team trying to snap its recent offensive woes.
“I’m pretty sure we broke a few rules," Moreland said. "I felt some guys patting me. I’m not going to say who, but some guys might have been hugging me. … Obviously, got the ice bath. So maybe that killed off of it. Washed the germs off.”
Xander Bogaerts drew a two-out walk from Thomas Hatch (0-1) to set up Moreland’s game-winner. Matt Barnes (1-1) pitched a scoreless ninth to get the win.
Rafael Devers also homered for the Red Sox, a welcomed sign after he entered the day just hitting just .170 (9 of 53).
The Blue Jays now head to Buffalo, New York, where they'll play their remaining home games at the site of their Triple-A affiliate across the Niagara River from Canada.
Toronto's first game at Sahlen Field will be Tuesday night against Miami. The Blue Jays were barred from playing in Toronto this year by the Canadian government over health concerns about the coronavirus, and have been on the road for every game so far.
The Blue Jays have a day off on Monday, but manager Charlie Montoyo said the team has been invited to the stadium to get an early look at the changes, which include new lighting.
“We haven’t seen them, either,” Montoyo said. “We’re going to give the players the option tomorrow night to see if they want to see what it looks like.”
Boston starter Nathan Eovaldi went six innings, allowing three runs and six hits, including two home runs. But he got good backup from his bullpen, which held the Blue Jays hitless and scoreless the rest of the game.
Blue Jays starter Matt Shoemaker also lasted six innings, giving up two home runs and allowing another run to score via a throwing error.
Moreland put Boston up 1-0 in the second inning, hitting a sinker from Shoemaker over the center field wall for his fifth homer of the season.
Cavan Biggio tied it in the third, jumping on a cutter from Eovaldi that drifted over the center of the plate and hitting his fourth home run of the year to center.
Boston took the lead back in the third when Shoemaker fielded Alex Verdugo’s ground ball and tried to start a double play. Instead, he threw the ball past shortstop Bo Bichette and into center field, allowing Jackie Bradley Jr. to score from second.
Toronto’s Teoscar Hernandez got aboard with a double in the fourth and later scored on Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s two-out single.
Bichette homered off Eovaldi in the sixth on a line drive to center to make it 3-2.
But Devers tied it again in Boston’s half of the inning, driving a first pitch sinker from Shoemaker over the center field fence for his second home run of the season.
Umpire Paul Nauert, the crew chief who was behind home plate in Saturday’s game, was absent from Sunday’s finale. Nauert took a hard foul ball off his face mask in the third inning on Saturday but was able to complete the game.
It was a three-man crew on Sunday, with Ryan Additon taking Nauert’s spot behind the plate, Chad Fairchild at first base and Carlos Torres at third base.
Blue Jays: Hyun Jin Ryu (1-1, 5.14 ERA) will be on the mound Tuesday when Toronto hosts Miami in Buffalo. He is 3-1 with a 2.39 ERA in four career starts against the Marlins.
Red Sox: Roenicke hasn’t named a starter for Monday’s series opener against Tampa Bay. But he said that Colten Brewer (0-0, 2.57 ERA) would have a role, either as an opener or would get some bulk work out of the bullpen.
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