Xander Bogaerts and the Boston Red Sox take on the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday. Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo
BOSTON -- Brian Johnson comes off the disabled list to get his latest shot at being Boston's No. 5 starter when he pitches for the Red Sox in Sunday's series finale against the Toronto Blue Jays in the final game for both teams before the All-Star break.
With Drew Pomeranz and Steven Wright injured, Johnson, who had been working in the bullpen but is a career starter, got his chance and made two starts as June turned into July. After the second one, he suffered hip inflammation and he too went on the disabled list.
Now he gets another chance as the Red Sox, coming off Saturday's dramatic 6-2 victory over the Jays, look for their record 67th win before the break and 12th win in 13 games after Xander Bogaerts hit a game-winning grand slam in the 10th inning.
Johnson, 1-1 with a 9.00 ERA in four games (two starts) against Toronto, will face Marcus Stroman, who was supposed to be the ace of the Toronto staff but is currently trying to salvage what he can from what started to be a lost season.
At one point, Stroman was 0-5 with a 6.80 ERA (and a long stretch on the disabled list). But he has pitched well in two of his last three starts to get the ERA down to 5.90.
The diminutive right-hander is 4-2 with a 4.19 ERA in 10 career starts against the Red Sox and 1-1 with a 3.26 in three games at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox trailed 2-1 entering the bottom of the ninth, then tied it and won it before Bogaerts hit the first walk-off grand slam in extra innings since Hall of Famer Jim Rice on July 4, 1984, against the Oakland Athletics.
"A walk-off homer is different, a walk-off grand slam even more," Bogaerts said. "Running the bases, I didn't even remember I hit a homer, to be honest.
"I hit it real good, but I didn't expect for it to go out. But I knew I did hit it good and I knew it was at least a sac fly and we would have won."
The Jays started Sam Gaviglio on two days' rest Saturday and had a one-run lead entering the ninth. Tyler Clippard quickly gave up the lead but pitched out of further trouble before Chris Rowley lost it in the 10th in his first game since being called up.
"Hey, I'm proud of our guys, man. We battled," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "I mean, naturally disappointing. You work so hard to get to that ninth inning and then back-to-back doubles. But Clip was in a jam and then he got out of it.
"The one time we finally get (Mookie) Betts out, we don't make the play. But gutted it out, great job, really by all of them. Gaviglio giving us the start on short rest. Yeah, it's tough, but we really couldn't mount much offense either. We get to their guys late. They're pretty tough."
Toronto's Kevin Pillar left the game early after making a spectacular catch he turned into a double play but left the game with what was called a sternum injury.
"He's at the hospital getting checked out right now," Gibbons said.
Mitch Moreland, who was unavailable for Boston (back), is 5-for-9 (.555), former Jay Steve Pearce 4-for-7 (.571) and Bogaerts, who doubled and scored the tying run in the ninth inning before delivering Boston's first walk-off grand slam since 2000 (Rico Brogna), is 10-for-26 (.385) with a homer off Stroman.
Pearce has missed two games with a shin contusion but was on deck to pinch hit late in Saturday's game.
While Pomeranz and Wright remain out, 11-game winner Eduardo Rodriguez went down with an ankle sprain Saturday.
"It looks bad (visually). (But) he was moving around," Boston manager Alex Cora said.