Jays complete sweep of Red Sox
Litsch, Adams star as Toronto plays spoiler vs. East leaders
TORONTO -- Red Sox fans may be cursing Russ Adams' name in their sleep Wednesday night. For the second day in a row, the Blue Jays infielder was a thorn in Boston's side and a nuisance in its path to the playoffs.
Adams added to the reeling Red Sox's misery this time by sending a pitch from closer Jonathan Papelbon rocketing deep to right field for an eighth-inning grand slam. That blow essentially erased any hope Boston had for a comeback and put the finishing touch on a 6-1 win for the Blue Jays.
The late heroics by Adams, combined with a impressive showing from Toronto rookie Jesse Litsch, helped the Blue Jays (77-75) to their first three-game sweep of the Red Sox since May 24-26, 2005. It also shrunk Boston's advantage over the Yankees in the American League East to just 1 1/2 games -- the slimmest lead for the Sox since April 24.
"It's always fun to get a sweep," Adams said. "But to be playing in games that matter in the grand scheme of things of what's going on in the American League, it's fun to be a part of it. It was back-to-back exciting nights here at the Rogers Centre."
On Tuesday night, it was also Adams that dealt the decisive blow in a win over Boston (90-63), which has now lost four games in a row. In the last contest, Adams entered the game as a pinch-hitter with the bases loaded in the eighth inning, and then turned on a 3-2 pitch for a two-run double that propelled Toronto to a 4-3 win.
It was nearly the same exact scenario for Adams one night later. Once again, he stepped into the batter's box with the bases loaded and two outs with a chance to help seal a win for the Jays. It was another 3-2 pitch -- this time a 96-mph fastball from Papelbon -- that Adams sent crashing into the second deck down the right-field line to put Toronto ahead, 6-1.
"It was almost the identical situation to last night's game," Adams said with a smile. "That's pretty much the first one I've gotten to, as far as him throwing fastballs. He's a tough guy to have success against. I actually got two pitches to hit. I missed the first one and caught up tot he second one.
"I'd be lying if I said this wasn't a lot of fun right now."
The excitement wasn't limited to the field, either. After dominating the Red Sox for 6 2/3 innings, Litsch watched the eighth inning unfold from inside Toronto's clubhouse. When Adams' bat met up the pitch from Papelbon, the 22-year-old pitcher had a hard time containing himself.
"That was awesome," Litsch said. "I was in here jumping up and down. That was a clutch hit right there -- just like last night. He got the job done again."
Adams may have applied the dagger, but it was Litsch's performance that paved the way for Toronto's win. The right-hander regained control of his changeup, which was an unpredictable offering over his past few starts, and handcuffed Boston's hitters until being pulled in the seventh inning.
Litsch (6-9) didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning, when Red Sox right fielder J.D. Drew pounded a 1-0 pitch for a solo home run, accounting for Boston's only offense. Over his past three outings, opposing batters had hit at a .396 clip off Litsch, but he limited the Sox to just two hits in his latest gem.
"We pitched as good as you can pitch," said Toronto manager John Gibbons, whose rotation went 3-0 with a 1.45 ERA in the sweep of Boston. "[Litsch] found the zone and he was getting ahead of guys. He had everything working. That's a little different look then the last couple times."
The Jays also had a difficult time solving Red Sox rookie Clay Buchholz (3-1), who was making his first start since throwing a no-hitter against Baltimore on Sept. 1. Buchholz didn't surrender a hit until the fourth inning and he had a run of 16 consecutive scoreless innings come to an abrupt halt in the fifth.
Buchholz opened that inning by yielding three straight hits, including a run-scoring infield single by Adams, who equaled a career high with five RBIs. After Adams' base hit, Ray Olmedo reached on a throwing error by Buchholz that allowed Gregg Zaun to score and put the Jays ahead for good, 2-1.
After the play, Adams was ruled out during a bizarre sequence at third base. While standing on the bag, Adams lifted his right foot slightly and was tagged out by Boston third baseman Mike Lowell. Fortunately for the Jays, the strange play didn't haunt them in the later innings.
"I definitely wasn't even paying attention," Adams said. "I guess I just rocked off just enough. It was a weird play, but it happened. Thank goodness it didn't have anything to with the outcome of the game."
Adams more than made up for his gaffe.
"That's the way I'm looking at it," he said with a laugh.
Now, Adams may be the cause of a few nightmares in Boston.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.