Xander Bogaerts polished off the Red Sox’ 10-inning, 6-2 victory over the Blue Jays in dazzling fashion on Saturday, crushing a Chris Rowley fastball to dead center field for a walk-off grand slam:
It wasn’t exactly Bogaerts’ first slam of the year — he checked that box twice in April alone — but it marked the club’s first walk-off grand slam since Rico Brogna did it against the Devil Rays in August 2000. In fact, this has been a remarkably grand slam-filled season for the Red Sox so far; according to ESPN Stats & Info, they’ve racked up nine slams in the first four months of the season, just two shy of the all-time record they established in 2005.
The walk-off homer capped a wild game for the Red Sox, one in which they took an early lead with J.D. Martinez‘s league-leading 29th home run, lost Eduardo Rodriguez to a right ankle sprain, and sent the game to extras with a last-minute RBI double from Jackie Bradley in the ninth. They’ve now taken the lead in the four-game series, 2-1, and will go for the win on Sunday afternoon when southpaw Brian Johnson takes on Blue Jays’ right-hander Marcus Stroman at 1:05 PM EDT.
Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman might be headed to the disabled list soon, manager John Gibbons told reporters following Friday’s rain-shortened loss to the Yankees. The righty lasted just four innings on the mound before calling it a night, and gave up five runs, six hits and two walks in a performance that Gibbons claimed was at least partially affected by recurring blister issues on his right middle finger. Now, it looks like he might be removed from the rotation for some much-needed rest and rehabilitation; if so, it’ll be his second such stint this year.
Stroman, 27, has struggled to return the kind of winning record and sub-4.00 ERA that characterized his previous seasons with the club, mostly due to the combined seven weeks he missed with blisters on his throwing hand and chronic fatigue in his right shoulder. In a recent start against the Rays, things got even more gruesome when his blister appeared to start bleeding in the middle of his outing and MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm notes that the wound has constantly interfered with the right-hander’s pitch selection and delivery. When healthy, Stroman has managed a 4-8 record through 18 starts in 2018 with a career-worst 5.27 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 6.8 SO/9 in 100 2/3 innings. This will be the first year since 2015 in which he has not logged at least 200 innings in a single season.
While Stroman may not need an extended stay on the DL before he returns to the mound, it’s not clear what kind of timetable the Blue Jays expect for his recovery. He’s been the second-most valuable starter (behind the now-traded J.A. Happ) in a rotation that currently ranks 17th in the majors with a combined 4.90 ERA and 6.8 fWAR.