Bichette hits tiebreaking grand slam to power Blue Jays to 6-2 win over Red Sox

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TORONTO — Mired in a slump over the first few weeks of the season, Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette made an adjustment to his hitting approach ahead of Monday's game against Boston.

The change paid immediate dividends.

Bichette hit a tiebreaking grand slam — the first of his career — in the eighth inning to power Toronto to a 6-2 win over the Red Sox at Rogers Centre.

"I'm just trying to be a little bit more selective but aggressive at the same time in what I want," Bichette said. "So I felt a lot better today."

Bichette, who's hitting .219 this season, had been pulling off on his swing of late and chasing balls out of the strike zone.

Manager Charlie Montoyo said he could tell Bichette was coming around because he was starting to hit more to the right side, a good indicator that his swing is on track.

The Toronto shortstop turned on a 1-0 pitch from reliever Tyler Danish for his second homer of the year, sending it just over the wall in right field.

"From experience, I never panic or anything for 60 or 70 at-bats or whatever, because people have track records," Montoyo said. "Everybody struggles and some people have slow starts, others have good starts. I knew it was going to be fine.

"He made the adjustment today and that was good to see."

Santiago Espinal, Bradley Zimmer and George Springer had reached on one-out singles before Bichette's first career grand slam.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and Matt Chapman hit solo homers and starter Jose Berrios worked seven-plus innings for the Blue Jays (11-6), who outhit Boston 10-7.

The Red Sox (7-10) have dropped five of their last six games.

"We’re just kind of running into some tough luck, you know? We’re hitting the ball hard, it’s going right at people," said Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo. "It seems like there’s really no holes at the moment."

Quality pitching and solid defence also helped the Blue Jays win for the fifth time in six games.

Berrios made a nice defensive play to escape a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the second inning. He snagged a comebacker from Christian Arroyo and threw home to start a 1-2-3 double play.

Springer made a highlight-reel catch to rob Kevin Plawecki of extra bases in the fifth inning. The Toronto centre-fielder chased down the line drive and made a diving grab just before the warning track.

Gurriel led off the bottom half of the frame with his second homer of the year. Boston starter Nathan Eovaldi had retired 11 straight batters before Gurriel turned on an 0-2 slider.

Chapman's solo shot, his third homer of the season, came on a 1-2 cutter in the seventh inning.

Berrios was pulled for sidearmer Adam Cimber (4-0) after giving up back-to-back singles in the eighth. Plawecki advanced the runners with a bunt and Kike Hernandez drove in Bobby Dalbec with a single.

Arroyo tied the game when he scored on a sacrifice fly by Verdugo.

Berrios and Eovaldi, who threw seven innings, had similar lines. Berrios allowed two earned runs, five hits and a walk while striking out four. Eovaldi also gave up two earned runs and five hits but didn't issue a walk and had five strikeouts.

Matt Strahm (1-1) shouldered the loss. Julian Merryweather worked the ninth inning for the Blue Jays.

The game took two hours 16 minutes to play.

COVID LIST

The Blue Jays placed infielder Cavan Biggio on the COVID-related injured list before the game. Right-hander Bowden Francis was recalled from triple-A Buffalo.

The Red Sox placed right-handers Tanner Houck and Kutter Crawford on the restricted list and added right-handers Tyler Danish and John Schreiber to the active roster.

HOMER HAPPY

Entering Monday's games, the Blue Jays led the major leagues with 22 homers this season. Eleven different Toronto players have gone deep this season, also tops in the big leagues.

SPORTS NIGHT

The opener of the Blue Jays' 10-game homestand drew a season-low crowd of 20,981 at Rogers Centre.

The previous season-low for home attendance was 27,490 for an April 17 game against Oakland. The Blue Jays' road low is 25,068 for an April 12 game against the New York Yankees.

JD AS DH

Boston slugger J.D. Martinez returned to the lineup Monday night after missing four games due to left adductor tightness.

He served as the designated hitter and batted fifth in the order.

B.C. BORN

Victoria native Nick Pivetta is scheduled to start for Boston on Tuesday night against fellow right-hander Kevin Gausman.

Pivetta's lone appearance at Rogers Centre as a member of the Red Sox came last August when he allowed one hit over six scoreless innings in a 1-0 loss.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 25, 2022.

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press

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