TORONTO (AP) — With manager Alex Cora back on the bench, the Boston Red Sox broke out of their recent slump.
Xander Bogaerts had four hits and the Red Sox celebrated Cora’s return from COVID-19 by beating the Toronto Blue Jays 7-1 on Wednesday night, snapping a four-game losing streak.
“His view on the game from the dugout perspective is always on point,” Bogaerts said of having Cora back after six games away. “He always kind of seems to make the right decision.”
Boston went 1-5 under bench coach Will Venable while Cora was away.
Cora said being in the dugout was a big change from eating ice cream on the couch while watching Red Sox games on television.
“I tell you what, the couch is a lot easier than the dugout,” Cora joked. “I miss my sundae ice cream and all that stuff. But it’s good to be here, it’s good to make decisions.”
Red Sox starter Michael Wacha said he was surprised to see Cora when he arrived at the stadium.
“I talked to him a couple of days ago and he wasn’t quite sure when he was going to be getting back,” Wacha said. “Walking in and seeing him here, I kind of feel like it got the boys a little upbeat, gave them a little extra going into the game tonight. It’s great having our jefe back here in the clubhouse.”
Bogaerts went 4 for 4 with four singles and a walk. The AL leader in hits, Bogaerts tops baseball with seven games of three or more hits this season. He had three hits in Monday’s 10-inning loss.
“His track record speaks for itself,” Cora said. “He’s just such a good player, such an offensive threat. He can pull it for power, he can go the other way for singles. I’m glad that he’s playing for us.”
Wacha (2-0) earned his second straight win. The right-hander allowed one run and four hits in six innings.
“Michael was outstanding,” Cora said.
Wacha retired his final seven batters after Gosuke Katoh’s double in the fourth. He struck out five and walked two.
“Felt really good, felt like my stuff was playing well,” Wacha said.
Toronto reliever Trent Thornton (0-1) allowed two runs in one inning as the Blue Jays lost for the second time in eight games.
Boston struck quickly against Ross Stripling. Bogaerts reached on a two-out infield single in the first and scored on a double by Rafael Devers.
The Red Sox used singles by Kevin Plawecki, Trevor Story and Bogaerts to load the bases with one out in the third, but Stripling escaped by striking out Devers and J.D. Martinez.
Those were the first two in a streak of eight consecutive outs for Stripling to finish his outing, six of them by strikeout.
Stripling allowed five hits in a season-high five innings. He struck out a season-high seven and walked none. Stripling had struck out five batters in 10 prior innings this season.
“I feel great,” Stripling said. “I feel like I’ve made the jump and built up well and feel strong.”
Toronto’s lone run came in the third when Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s fielder’s choice drove in Tyler Heineman, tying it at 1.
Bogaerts, Devers, and Martinez restored Boston’s lead with consecutive singles off Thornton in the sixth. Martinez’s hit brought home the go ahead run, and Kiké Hernández followed with a sacrifice fly.
Katoh’s fourth-inning double was the first hit of his big league career. Katoh played 763 minor league games over eight seasons before making the majors this year.
Red Sox: Cora said Bogaerts will get the day off Thursday. … Martinez was replaced by a pinch hitter in the ninth because he is banged up, Cora said. Boston has played back-to-back series on artificial turf.
Blue Jays: LHP Ryan Borucki was placed on the 10-day injured list because of a blister on his middle finger. LHP Andrew Vasquez was recalled from Triple-A.
Red Sox RHP Garrett Whitlock (1-0, 0.66 ERA) faces Blue Jays RHP Alek Manoah (3-0, 2.00 ERA) in Thursday afternoon’s series finale. Whitlock made his first career start at Tampa Bay last Saturday. Manoah went 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA in two starts against Boston last season. By IAN HARRISON Associated Press