TORONTO (AP) — Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and George Springer hosted, Alek Manoah hit six innings and the playoff-bound Toronto Blue Jays beat the Boston Red Sox 9-0 on Friday night.
Raimel Tapia is also linked for the Blue Jays, who grabbed the AL wild-card spot Thursday when the Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles. Toronto held a clubhouse celebration after Friday’s game.
“This party is scheduled to win or lose,” said Manoah. “For me, the biggest thing is let’s have fun, but with a win.”
Toronto hit 13 hits in its ninth closing win of the season.
“You couldn’t really write it better,” said interim manager John Schneider.
Toronto (88-69) leads the AL wild-card race, ahead of Seattle and Tampa Bay. The Blue Jays went 18-10 in September. They are 14-3 against the Red Sox this season.
“They changed the rules, not divisions,” said Boston manager Alex Cora. “We will face all these teams and we have to do a better job. They have their ways against us.”
Boston is 23-48 against AL East opponents. The Red Sox (75-82) are confident of their first losing streak in a 162-game season since 78-84 in 2015. Boston recorded a 24-36 record in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
Guerrero fired twice from Canadian-born left-hander Nick Pivetta (10-12) in the third inning, his 31st. Tapia beat Tyler Danish to start his sixth, seventh. Three hitters later, Springer hit homer three times, his 25th.
Manoah (16-7) allowed two strokes, four strokes and two runs, his eighth consecutive start allowed two strokes to be earned or fewer. The right-hander has won his last four decisions, and his 2.24 ERA is the fourth-lowest in the majors.
“He’s very good,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “With him, it’s not six innings, three runs. It’s six innings, one round. You look at the ERA, you see the numbers, he’s become a horse for them.”
Manoah let no punches through the first four innings, but Abraham Almonte hit a singles one-out in the fifth round when Manoah was late for a break for first base on grounder Almonte on the first base line.
“I misread,” said Manoah. “I think it was a foul by a wide margin.”
The next two Red Sox hitters flew out.
Jarren Duran grabbed a single bloop to start his sixth, but Rafael Devers followed suit by grounding into double play.
Left-hander Yusei Kikuchi made the final three innings for his first career save.
“That was really cool for him,” said Schneider. “You see the bullpen, they on the fence want him to do it.”
Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette went 2 for 4 with a walk, giving him 48 hits in September. This is the most by a Blue Jays player in a calendar month, breaking Tony Fernandez’s record of 47 hits in June 1986.
Pivetta let four runs, three gains and six strokes in five innings as Boston lost for the first time in four games.
“The breaking ball wasn’t there today,” said Cora. “The quick ball towards the end was good but I felt all night he couldn’t get his curling ball.”
Boston placed unvaccinated RHP Kaleb Ort on restriction and Duran’s withdrawal from Triple-A Worcester.
Ort is expected to join the Red Sox in Toronto on Saturday, the first day of October, with the expiration of Canadian requirements preventing foreign nationals who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 from entering the country.
Homer Guerrero drove 447 feet and had an exit speed of 117.5 miles per hour, making it the second heaviest home run of his career. On April 10 against Texas, he hit one punch at 117.9 miles per hour. Friday’s second-deck blast was the hardest home run hit allowed by a Red Sox pitcher since the introduction of Statcast in 2015.
“It looked like a line drive in the gap and then it just kept going,” said Manoah. “That’s crazy.”
RHP Brayan Bello (2-7, 4.39 ERA) starts for the Red Sox on Saturday against Blue Jays RHP Ross Stripling (9-4, 3.16 ERA). Bello posted an ERA of 1.65 in five September starts.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports