BOSTON — When Toronto right-hander Kevin Gausman comes to Fenway Park, he knows how well he’s pitching by the playlist.
“If you’re still in the game when they’re singing `Sweet Caroline’ in the eighth inning, you’ve done something right,” Gausman said after taking a shutout into the ninth to beat the Boston Red Sox 3-2 on Thursday.
“That’s what I remember about the last time that I pitched really well here,” said Gausman, who spent the first 6 1/2 seasons of his career in the AL East in Baltimore. “It was being out there while they’re playing that song.”
Gausman (1-1) struck out eight and walked none before allowing a leadoff single to Trevor Story to lead off the ninth. Jordan Romano relieved him and walked one and gave up an RBI double to Xander Bogaerts, then retired the next three batters to earn his seventh save.
In a season when Clayton Kershaw was pulled from a perfect game because of a pitch count – and Japanese League pitcher Roki Sasaki was taken out of what could have been his second straight perfect game – Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said he was happy to let Gausman go for his first career shutout.
“I gave him a chance, hitter by hitter. If he would have gotten the first guy, then he would have gotten (to pitch to) the next guy,” Montoyo said. “Everybody knew that that was our game plan. We were going to give him a chance to finish it. But then it’s not going to be fair to bring Romano on with two on.”
Gausman allowed seven hits in all – all singles – and allowed only one runner to reach second base. After Story singled to lead off the ninth, Romano walked Rafael Devers and gave up an RBI double to Xander Bogaerts.
Devers scored on Alex Verdugo‘s groundout, then Bobby Dalbec hit a hard groundout to third against a drawn-in infield and Bogaerts had to return to the bag. Romano got Jackie Bradley Jr. on a broken-bat groundout to first.
“Obviously, it wasn’t a no-hitter, a perfect game or anything like that, but still trying to just go as deep as I can,” said Gausman, whose only complete game was in 2014. “Whenever they come and get me, that’s when they’re going to get me.”
Tanner Houck (1-1) gave up two runs on three hits and a walk, striking out four in five innings. He will miss his next scheduled start, in Toronto on Tuesday, because he is not vaccinated for COVID-19 and unable to enter Canada.
“I knew from the beginning it was going to be not many runs because the other guy on the other side has good stuff too. So we knew it was going to be a close game,” Montoyo said. “We needed a start like that. There was no room for error, and he gave it to us.”
Bogaerts had three hits for the Red Sox, who have scored a total of eight runs in their last four games, losing three.
Toronto took a 2-0 lead in the third inning on Bo Bichette‘s RBI single and Vladimir Guerrero’s sacrifice fly. The Blue Jays’ third run scored in the sixth on a Matt Chapman popup that went 100 feet in the air and landed about 10 feet in front of home plate.
Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez went out to field it but got turned around. Ryan Brasier stood by, because he’s a pitcher and isn’t expected to field popups. First baseman Travis Shaw charged in but was too late.
The ball dropped, and with Vazquez away from the plate, Guerrero scored without a throw to make it 3-0. Chapman was credited with an infield single.
Blue Jays: OF George Springer, who was hit by a pitch on the right forearm on Wednesday night, was not in the starting lineup. He entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the sixth and struck out, then remained in right field.
Red Sox: Manager Alex Cora tested positive for COVID-19 in the morning and did not manage the series finale. He will not travel with the team to St. Petersburg, Florida, for the weekend series against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Red Sox said Cora, who is vaccinated and boosted, was suffering from mild symptoms. Bench coach Will Venable took Cora’s place in the dugout…. DH J.D. Martinez came out of Wednesday’s game in with left thigh tightness and did not play.