Masataka Yoshida, Yusei Kikuchi: Red Sox Beat Blue Jays 7-6

Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP
Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi reacts after being pulled during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox in Toronto on Saturday, July 1, 2023.

TORONTO (AP) — Rafael Devers hit his 20th home run, Justin Turner homered and scored three times and the Boston Red Sox spoiled Canada Day celebrations in Toronto by holding on to beat the Blue Jays 7-6 Saturday.

Right fielder Alex Verdugo threw out Bo Bichette at home plate for the final out of the game after Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit an RBI single off Red Sox closer Kenley Jansen. George Springer scored on the play, but Bichette was tagged out by catcher Connor Wong. Toronto’s challenge was unsuccessful.

“He’s one of the best, if not the best, defensive right fielders in the American League,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Verdugo. “That was a great throw.”

Verdugo has a team-high six of Boston’s 14 outfield assists this season. Saturday’s throw by Verdugo gave Jansen his 17th save in 20 chances.

“It’s a great team win,” Jansen said. “That’s how we’ve got to keep doing it, man.”

Blue Jays manager John Schneider didn’t blame either Bichette or third base coach Luis Rivera for the game-ending play.

“You want to be aggressive but, at the same time, you don’t want to make the last out at the plate,” Schneider said. “It’s a bang-bang play. It’s really nobody’s fault.”

Devers went 3 for 5 with three RBI and scored twice. Turner finished 3 for 5 with two RBI as Boston returned to .500 at 42-42. The Red Sox are 37-13 when scoring four or more runs.

“We did enough today,” Cora said.

Matt Chapman hit a two-run home run, and Springer and Bichette both had solo homers, but the Blue Jays dropped to 16-28 all-time on Canada’s national holiday, disappointing a sell-out crowd of 41,813.

The Blue Jays wore red hats and jerseys for their eighth Canada Day meeting with the Red Sox. Toronto is 2-6 in those games.

The Red Sox are 6-0 against Toronto this season after losing 16 of 19 meetings last year. It’s the first time Toronto has lost its first six games against Boston in a single season. The Blue Jays last lost six straight to the Red Sox in 2018.

Red Sox right-hander Kutter Crawford (3-4) pitched 5 2/3 innings to win for the second time in three starts as Boston won its second straight following a season-worst five-game losing streak.

Chapman scored from third base on Josh Winckowski’s errant pickoff throw in the seventh, then made it a one-run game with an opposite-field home run in the eighth, his 11th.

Jansen replaced Winckowski after Danny Jansen walked to put runners at first and second. After both runners advanced on a double steal, Cavan Biggio lined a ball to right field but his drive landed just foul. Jansen struck out Biggio on a full-count pitch to preserve Boston’s lead.

Turner made it 7-5 with a leadoff homer off Erik Swanson in the ninth, his 13th.

Springer opened the scoring with his 56th career leadoff home run and fourth this season. Only Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson (81) hit more.

Springer’s 12th home run of the season came on an 0-2 pitch.

Devers answered with a two-run homer off left-hander Yusei Kikuchi in the third, but Bichette’s homer, his 15th, tied it in the bottom half.

Toronto’s Kevin Kiermaier hit Crawford’s left hand with a line drive in the fifth. The ball ricocheted to catcher Caleb Hamilton, who threw the speedy Kiermaier out at first base.

Kikuchi (7-3) allowed five runs and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings to lose for the first time since May 24 at Tampa Bay. He struck out two and walked seven.


Red Sox: Masataka Yoshida stayed in the game to run after he was hit on the right leg by a 101 mph pitch from Nate Pearson in the seventh. Triston Casas replaced Yoshida in the ninth. Yoshida was the DH Saturday. Cora said X-rays on Yoshida came back negative.

Blue Jays: Kiermaier returned after missing the past four games because of a sore back.