Raimel Tapia put his head down and began a slow jog to first base, not sure he’d gotten the pop he wanted when he drove a bases-loaded fly ball to deep center field in the third inning. Then everything about the play and the rest of the night changed.
Tapia hit an inside-the-park grand slam after a foul play by Boston center fielder Jarren Duran and the Toronto Blue Jays set a franchise record for runs in a game, rolling past the Red Sox 28-5 on Friday night.
Toronto came within two of the modern major league record for runs in a game after stranding two runners in the ninth inning with Boston infielder Yolmer Sanchez on the mound. Every Blue Jays starter had at least two hits, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr tied Frank Catalanotto’s franchise record with six of them. Danny Jansen homered twice and drove in six runs. Matt Chapman and Teoscar Hernandez added solo homers for Toronto, which topped their previous single-game mark of 24 runs set in June 1976 against the Baltimore Orioles.
“It was fantastic,” interim manager John Schneider said. “We talked about it before the game, how you can come out a little tired and you can come out warm. I think we came out hot, obviously.”
The 28 runs are the most ever scored by a Red Sox team, surpassing the previous mark set in a 27-3 loss to Cleveland in 1923. The Fenway Park faithful jeered throughout the night except for a wedding proposal on the video board with the home team after 25-3. The woman’s “yes” was one of the few times Boston fans found reason to cheer.
Toronto entered the day with a two-game lead over the Red Sox for the AL’s final wild card. The Red Sox have lost their last three games by scores of 14-1, 13-2 and 28-5.
Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi lasted just under three innings, allowed one homer and was charged with nine runs. It started a 29-hit night for Toronto winners of four straight that featured nearly as much craziness from the Red Sox.
It started with Tapia’s home sprint. With two outs in the third and Toronto leading 6-0, Tapia lifted a two-out fly to center against reliever Austin Davis. Duran took a few steps back, then a few in, and then he threw up his hands in confusion. Boston fans groaned as the ball landed on the warning track behind him.
“[First base coach Mark Budzinski] started saying, ‘You must run! You have to run!’” Tapia said. “That’s when I started running really hard, right there.” Duran walked slowly toward the ball as left fielder Alex Verdugo ran over, slid to scoop it up and fired it toward the infield. The relay home didn’t come close to catching Tapia, who sped off when he realized Duran had lost the ball. “I hit it on the barrel, but at the same time I didn’t think it would go too far,” Tapia said.
Duran called losing sight of the ball “the most hopeless feeling you could ever feel.” He added: “I lost it at dusk. It happens. [Verdugo] was right there. Of course I should have taken a step or two. He was already going to beat me to the ball. I just didn’t want to get in his way. Next time I know to take one or two steps.”
Boston failed defensively again in the fifth. Trailing 15-3, Chapman lifted a two-out pop-up into the infield that fell between catcher Kevin Plawecki, reliever Kaleb Ort and third baseman Rafael Devers for a base hit that allowed another run to cross. That led to more ridicule and scorn from Boston fans who stayed behind. Those who remained tried to make the best of a dreary night at the ballpark.
Fans still stood up for the traditional Fenway signing of Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline. Yet, in a night as memorable as it was forgettable, it also ended with a tinge of buap. The only cheer left? When Duran struck to end the fight.
The modern MLB record for runs in a game is 30, set by the Texas Rangers against the Baltimore Orioles in 2007. The all-time mark is 36 for the Chicago Colts against the Louisville Colonels in 1897.