In the second inning, Hernandez demonstrated his power by hitting a 442-foot home run that gave the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead. In the third set, he sprinted out of the field to the right center to make a diving hold. And in the fourth inning, Michael Chavis tried to go from first to third on a single only to learn that Hernandez also had an above average throwing arm.
But despite Hernandez’s best efforts, the Blue Jays’ pitching, defense and cross-country run cost them the chance to outscore the Yankees in second place to the AL East. The Red Sox beat the Blue Jays to a 9-8 win at Fenway Park which puts Toronto at 21-18.
“It’s not the first tough loss we’ve had this year,” manager Charlie Montoyo said afterwards. “Every loss has been difficult and every victory has been good. They all did a round so today was tough, but we will come back and regroup. We already have. I don’t see why not tomorrow.
For a while, it looked like the Red Sox could win big. They were leading 6-2 after four innings, but a three-run homerun from Vladimir Guerrero Jr. brought the Blue Jays down to less than one. This gave Hernandez the chance to do even more damage when he stepped in with two and the Blue Jays were leading 6-5 in the seventh. He delivered, hitting a single over Xander Bogaerts to tie the game.
But the Red Sox rallied against Anthony Bass in the ninth, tying the game on a home run at Bogaerts and scoring Christian Vazquez on a ground ball in third three batters later. It was a frustrating loss, especially on a night the Yankees and Tigers both lost, but it shouldn’t completely overshadow the progress Hernandez continues to make.
“His approach to the plate has been exceptional,” said Montoyo. “He’s got some good shots to hit and he kicks them out of the ballpark.”
Only Mike Trout has more circuits than Hernandez this year, and while it may be tempting to dismiss this as small sample noise, it’s not quite right. After a slow start to the 2019 season, the Blue Jays opted for Hernandez in the triple-A on May 16. Since his return in early June, he has played a total of 125 games while hitting 37 home runs. It is a legitimately impressive power.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Blue Jays game without a base crash or two, and in retrospect those mistakes have proven to be costly. With one out and one early in the fifth inning, Jonathan Villar hit a ball on the Green Monster in left field. Instead of sticking out on first base and letting his teammates do their part, he pushed for second where he was needlessly sent off. It’s the second costly mistake of the week for Villar, and to make matters worse, he didn’t rush out of the batter’s box.
“We know we’re going to play a lot of close games and you have to play clean baseball,” infielder Joe Panik said before the game. “It means giving the other team 27 strikeouts and that’s it. Don’t give them any more outs. Don’t give points on the basics. It’s learning how to play clean baseball. ”
Two innings later, Rowdy Tellez misinterpreted a ball in the outfield and got sent off trying to move from second to third, although at least he was jostling from start to finish.
“Neither was good,” Montoyo said afterwards. “Villar’s, the game is in front of him, so he can always stop. And Rowdy’s wasn’t good either. I am not defending this.
These mistakes can be particularly costly on nights like Saturday, when the Blue Jays aren’t pitching particularly well. A second round of three home races derailed Chase Anderson’s sixth start of the season and by the fifth inning the Blue Jays were already looking to their field. Shun Yamaguchi kept things close with three effective innings and Anthony Kay called before Bass came in and missed the save opportunity.
Ahead of the game, the Blue Jays decided to go with Reese McGuire and promote Caleb Joseph to the Big League. With an OPS of .220 in 19 games, McGuire just wasn’t hitting, so the Blue Jays picked the contract of Joseph, a six-year veteran who caught Robbie Ray and Taijuan Walker in Arizona last year.
“We still think a lot of Reese McGuire,” Montoyo said. “He was very successful at catching, but his attack, as you know, struggled a lot, so we hope he manages to do it in Rochester.
Joseph entered the game as a defensive substitute late in the seventh and made a throwing error in the ninth when Vazquez stole the second. To create room on Joseph’s 40-player roster, the Blue Jays have moved Ken Giles closer to the injured roster in a move that means Giles won’t return to battle until Friday.
Giles’ live batting workout went well on Saturday, but he still wanted a tune-up before releasing a game again. After all, at this rate, the Blue Jays probably won’t have the luxury of relieving him.
“We don’t play any lower leverage,” Montoyo joked before the game. “It’s every round. Each time he comes to present an argument, it will be an important lever, I promise you.
One of the hitters Giles faced on Saturday was Bo Bichette, who is also set to return. The shortstop will face more live shots on Sunday before returning to Buffalo with the rest of the squad. He likely won’t be ready for Monday’s series opener against the Yankees, but a comeback at some point in the week ahead looks realistic.
Every time he returns, he’ll join a Blue Jays team that always keeps things interesting. With 10 games to go against the Yankees and little room for error, the Blue Jays will take whatever reinforcements they can get.