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Still some good things on a rare off night for Red Sox

The Boston Globe logo The Boston Globe 8/10/2018 By Nick Cafardo

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TORONTO — Even in a rare loss, extraordinary things happen with this Red Sox team.

BOX SCORE: BLUE JAYS 8, RED SOX 5

Mookie Betts hit for his first career cycle (let’s call it a cycle-plus since he also walked and reach base five times) in an 8-5 loss to the Blue Jays. Betts singled in the first, tripled in the second, doubled in the fourth and homered in the ninth. He ran around the bases with an excitement in his step and was enthusiastically greeted by teammates who understood the magnitude of his feat.

Betts, who raised his major league leading batting average to .347, doesn’t recall ever hitting for the cycle at any level. His only lament was that the Red Sox lost. He’d much rather had done it in a win.

“I had plenty of guys letting me know what I needed but we were losing the game and I wanted to do what I could to win the game so I was just trying to get on base,” Betts said. “I’ve had opportunities to do it before so to succeed is a good feeling.”

Betts said that his teammates were talking about the possibility throughout the game. Betts said it wasn’t like when no one talks to a pitcher who’s trying to throw a no-hitter.

“We had fun with it,” Betts said.

He was asked whether it was harder to hit for the cycle or roll a perfect game in bowling, which he has also done. Betts answered, “Great question. I’m going to say the cycle is harder than a perfect game.”

Even on a night of adversity there were good things.

The Red Sox gave the Blue Jays a break from their doldrums and themselves a break from winning. Yes, the Red Sox faced their first little hiccup in quite a while. One thing is for sure — the Red Sox have to be glad Toronto isn’t a playoff team because the Blue Jays own Rick Porcello, who allowed seven runs over four-plus innings after giving up eight runs over two innings back on July 13.

Porcello entered the game second in the AL with 14 wins, but the Blue Jays have raised havoc with his ERA, which rose to 4.17. Take away the 15 runs in the two losses to the Blue Jays, and Porcello’s ERA would be 3.38 and he’d be right in the hunt for a Cy Young. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way.

Even the worst teams can beat the best teams once in a while. It can be shocking when the Red Sox lose to a team like this, but when their starting pitcher fails so miserably, it happens.

It was a get-it-out-of-your-system type game. The Red Sox took a 2-0 first-inning lead and then found themselves fighting back after Toronto took the lead.

The Red Sox still battled because they’re never really out of any game. Eduardo Nunez knocked in the first two runs and had three hits his first three times up.

J.D. Martinez, the most locked-in hitter I’ve seen since Barry Bonds, blasted his 35th homer.

The Red Sox had been 25-5 in their last 30 games, and had been playing .729 baseball since May 18. The clubhouse was quieter after the loss. There was no loud music playing The players were all filling out their custom forms to leave Toronto for Baltimore, where they were schedule to play four games in three days, including a doubleheader Saturday.

But it’s a very confident team. The Sox don’t get too low when they lose because they simply don’t experience it very often.

“I don’t see anybody beating that team,” said a Blue Jays official about the Red Sox. “They can beat you in so many different ways. Their hitting is off the charts. They have two impact players in J.D. and Mookie and the rest of the lineup just flows through them. They play great defense in the outfield. They have a very good catcher and they can pitch. The other thing they do better than anyone else is run. They create opportunities for themselves that way.”

While they are a modern analytic team, opposing teams are impressed with their old-school skills like base running and defense. They are well-coached and their depth has allowed them to withstand injuries to key players.

The Red Sox are certainly not a perfect team, but who is? In a league that has a wide gap between the good and bad teams, they have fewer holes than most. Yes, they could use another veteran shutdown reliever, but if they don’t get one and have to go into the playoffs with what they have, then they’ll take their chances that they have enough.

On a night that didn’t go their way, Betts provided the entertainment.

“We’re just going to turn the page,” Betts said.

Related slideshow: 2018 MLB Season (Provided by Photo Services)

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