(Photo credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)
The Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday will seek a three-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox and a winning 10-game homestand.
The Blue Jays (82-67) have won the first two games against the Red Sox (74-75) after a 4-3, 13-inning victory Saturday. Toronto is 5-4 on its homestand and currently holds the thirdand final wild-card spot in the American League.
The Red Sox have lost three in a row and 14 of their past 20 games.
The Blue Jays caught a break with two outs in the ninth on Saturday. Pinch hitter Daulton Varsho tied the game with a triple on a line drive that sailed over the head of Red Sox center fielder Ceddanne Rafaela, who broke in on the ball.
"We expect him to make that play, and he expects himself to make that play," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "It's just a mistake and he'll learn from it, and he'll be better for the next one."
The Blue Jays won the game in the 13th on Whit Merrifield's two-out infield RBI single on a chopper to the left side of the mound. Third baseman Rafael Devers had no play on the ball.
"This is huge," Blue Jays manager John Schneider said. "You win the series out of the chute with the first two, and that would have been a tough game to lose either way. It would be tough to come back tomorrow. With where we are, guys would be up for it, but you need to get breaks. You need those breaks sometimes, especially in games like that, and today we got them." PLAYOFFS?
"Tough one," Cora said. "We pitched well, but we've got to figure out this hitting with men in scoring position, we've got to be better; it's been going on for a while."
The Red Sox got a two-run homer from Devers and a strong effort from left-hander Chris Sale, who struck out 10 in six-plus innings. Sale allowed two hits and two walks. The only run he allowed came on a solo home run by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to lead off the seventh. Guerrero has homered in three straight games.
It was the best of the seven starts Sale has made since returning from the 60-day injured list on Aug. 11.
"Pitching-wise, I think Chris was great," Cora said. "I think location-wise, it was his best one of the season. Stuff-wise, he was OK, but the breaking ball was good, the changeup was OK. The fastball command was outstanding. A good one."
The Blue Jays had a solid start from right-hander Chris Bassitt, who allowed two runs in seven innings.
"I know there's been a lot of talk about hitting. We're the best pitching staff in the big leagues," Bassitt said, "and we play the best defense in the big leagues. I think the hitting side of it all and the story of our hitters not being great is just skewed."
Toronto was 3-for-16 with runners in scoring position and stranded 13 runners on Saturday.
Toronto is scheduled to start left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu (3-3, 2.93 ERA) on Sunday. In six career starts against Boston, he is 2-2 with a 4.01 ERA.
Right-hander Nick Pivetta (9-9, 4.56) is Boston's scheduled starter in the series finale. He is 2-4 with a 5.57 ERA in 14 career games (12 starts) against Toronto.
Boston put first baseman Triston Casas (right shoulder inflammation) on the injured list Saturday and recalled infielder Bobby Dalbec from Triple-A Worcester.
--Field Level Media