Red Sox

Sale gives up four home runs as Jays beat Red Sox, 9-4

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Sale gives up four home runs as Jays beat Red Sox, 9-4

BOSTON -- Chris Sale has had a few setbacks as Boston has rolled down the stretch and back toward the postseason.

Tuesday was another one of those nights.

Sale matched a career worst by giving up four home runs in a playoff tuneup, including a pair to Josh Donaldson, and the Red Sox lost 9-4 to the Toronto Blue Jays.

"You can't have a good day at work every day," Sale said. "Unfortunately, what I do is amplified because we're here and we're in the thick of it. To survive, you've got to win games. I'm not doing that, and I'm as frustrated as anybody on the planet about that."

Teoscar Hernandez hit one of his two homers off Sale, and Kendrys Morales had the other against Boston's ace lefty. Sale (17-8) allowed five runs in five innings and surrendered multiple homers for the third time in five starts. Sale last allowed four homers in a game Aug. 23, 2013 against Texas.

"You throw some bad pitches that get hit hard. I throw a lot of strikes. I've just got to be a little bit more careful with where I'm throwing them," Sale said.

Boston's magic number over the Yankees in the AL East is three with five games remaining. New York beat Tampa Bay 6-1.

After winning six straight, Boston has lost two in a row - a first since dropping three consecutive games from Sept. 2-4. Houston won later Tuesday, ensuring the AL East winner will open the playoffs on the road.

Sale did have eight strikeouts, giving him 308 for the season - five shy of Pedro Martinez's club record set in 1999. The AL Cy Young Award candidate has a 2.90 ERA with one scheduled start remaining. Sale's spot in the rotation comes up again Sunday, when the Red Sox host Houston in the regular-season finale. It's not certain that Sale will make that outing, though.

"I think it's probably too early to answer that definitely," manager John Farrell said. "We just have to see how these final five games play out. We know where we stand, we know what's ahead of us."

J.A. Happ (10-11) pitched seven strong innings for the last-place Blue Jays, holding Boston to a run and four hits with nine strikeouts.

Donaldson homered in the first inning for the second straight game, then led off the third with his 33rd this season. The latter shot cleared the bullpen and reached the right-field seats to put Toronto ahead 2-1. Hernandez led off the fifth with a homer to left, and Morales added a two-run shot later that inning.

Boston was missing three injured starters in Dustin Pedroia, Mookie Betts and Eduardo Nunez, and it struggled against Happ. Xander Bogaerts led off the game with a single and scored on Chris Young's double, but Happ got the next 16 batters in a row and kept the Red Sox off the bases until Bogaerts' one-out single in the sixth.

"I felt like it's definitely a good one to potentially end on," Happ said.

Toronto added four runs in the eighth, two of them on Hernandez's two-run shot to left that nearly cleared the Green Monster, and the Blue Jays led 9-1.

Sandy Leon led off the eighth with a homer, and Young hit an RBI triple for Boston in a three-run eighth.

NEXT START

Sale threw 107 pitches. He said can be ready for Sunday if needed, or the playoff opener.

"That's not my call," he said. "I answer the phone when it rings. When they tell me to go out there, I go out there."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: Pedroia (left knee swelling) was out of the lineup for the second straight game. Farrell said the club wants Pedroia to heal up and have him back for the playoffs. ... Betts (left hand/wrist) and Nunez (knee) are listed as day-to-day.

UP NEXT

Blue Jays: RHP Marco Estrada (10-8, 4.70 ERA) has won his last five decisions and gets the start for Toronto.

Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (10-17, 4.55) is 1-2 in three starts against the Blue Jays this season.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Report: Red Sox aiming to sign both J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer

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Report: Red Sox aiming to sign both J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer

While the Red Sox’ interest in free agents J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer has been well-documented, it may not be a one-or-the-other situation. 

According to the Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman, Boston’s intention is to sign both Martinez and Hosmer in an effort to strengthen an offense that finished last in the American League in home runs in 2016. Though Dave Dombrowski declined to comment on any and all free agent discussions, Silverman wrote that the team’s “goal is to sign them both.” 

Martinez, 30, has seen his power numbers fluctuate throughout his career. He belted 29 homers in 62 games after getting traded to the Diamondbacks last season to finish the campaign with a career-best 45 homers between Detroit and Arizona. His previous career-high in home runs was 38, which he hit in 2015 with the Tigers. 

The 28-year-old Hosmer, who has played his entire career with the Royals since being drafted third overall by them in 2008, hit .318/.385/.498 last season with 25 homers and 94 RBI. He’s hit 25 home runs in back-to-back seasons; they are the only two seasons of his seven-year career in which he’s hit 20 or more.
 
Silverman estimates that signing both players could cost as much as a combined $450 million. 

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Will Red Sox' patient approach pay off?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Will Red Sox' patient approach pay off?

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0:41 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins from the TD Garden to discuss the Celtics getting the win over the Nuggets, Kyrie Irving taking advantage of his matchup, Shane Larkin’s performance off the bench, and if Gordon Hayward will return this season.

5:18 - Michael Holley, Tom Curran, Michael Hurley, and DJ Bean discuss Tom Brady’s success in his career against the Pittsburgh Steelers and if that success will continue on Sunday. 

9:34 - Evan Drellich joins from the MLB Winter Meetings to talk about the Red Sox needing to stay disciplined with their roster flexibility, and the latest on J.D. Martinez. 

15:09 - Holley, Curran, Hurley, and Bean discuss Malcolm Butler’s now deleted retweet about Jay Cutler’s success against the Patriots when facing a blitz.