Rapid Reaction: Jays 3, Red Sox 1

April, 11, 2012

TORONTO -- Let's see now, a 1-5 start following a 7-20 September? Friday's lid-lifter at Fenway Park might be the most heartwarming home opener since the Bullpen By Committee was booed during pregame introductions in 2003.

Terry Francona says he's not coming back for next week's 100th anniversary event at the Fens? Bobby Valentine said he can't wait to get back, but that was before the Sox lost the rubber game of this three-game set to the Blue Jays, 3-1.

Maybe the Sox should invite Francona to the opener. At least that way they'd be assured that someone gets a huge ovation.

"I think we have the greatest fans in the world,'' Valentine said when asked what kind of reception the team should expect Friday. "We'll find out.''

All that brave talk this spring about getting off to a good start sure has faded fast, hasn't it, and it doesn't promise to get much easier at home, where the Sox return to face the Tampa Bay Rays, the first of three playoff teams that roll in for this first homestand. The defending AL champion Rangers are next, followed by the Yankees for the, ahem, celebration weekend.

Wednesday, the Sox were throttled by Jays left-hander Ricky Romero, who has rather quietly ascended into the top tier of the league's best pitchers.

Romero set down 17 in a row between Jacoby Ellsbury's RBI single in the third and Ellsbury's leadoff walk in the ninth.

Romero gave the Sox a fighting chance in the ninth when he followed the pass to Ellsbury with another to Dustin Pedroia.

Jon Lester has pitched well in both of his starts, following up his one-run, seven-inning outing on Opening Day with eight innings in which he allowed three runs on three hits. But the inability of the Red Sox to complete a pickoff of Rajai Davis with two out in the eighth cost the Sox a pivotal run. Lester, not expecting Davis to run, made what he called a "show-me" pickoff throw to first. Davis, who had gotten a great jump, never hesitated, and Gonzalez's hurried throw bounced into second. Davis was credited with a stolen base, and an agitated Lester gave up a run-scoring single on the next pitch to Yunel Escobar to make it 3-1.

Davis also figured prominently in Toronto's two-run rally in the third, when he hit a one-out RBI triple and scored on Escobar's sacrifice fly.

The Sox bunched together their only three hits off Romero in the third -- base hits by Cody Ross, Mike Aviles and Ellsbury, scoring the run. But Kelly Shoppach's inability to execute a sacrifice bunt may have cost the Sox a run, as the Jays were able to get a force at third before Ellsbury's RBI single.

Romero retired Adrian Gonzalez on a deep drive to center that advanced both runners in the ninth, Pedroia hustling to beat the throw to second. Toronto manager John Farrell then went to his closer, Sergio Santos, who had blown two saves in the season's first week, including one against the Sox on Monday night. But Santos struck out Kevin Youkilis and retired David Ortiz on a grounder to short to end it.

The Sox have scored a total of three runs in the first five innings of the season's first six games.

Gordon Edes

ESPN Staff Writer



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