TORONTO -- Of the 33 games Boston Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo has managed in John Farrell's absence, this one, he said, ranks at the top. One tweeter (@ImnotRakush) even offered to give it a name: The bloody-ear game.
Don't get the wrong idea, this wasn't bloody-sock redux. Red Sox reliever Jean Machi's wounded appendage ultimately served only as prologue to Boston's most satisfying comeback win of the season, knocking off the first-place Blue Jays by scoring five times in the ninth, then holding on for a 7-6 win Saturday night before a full house in Rogers Centre.
Machi's role in all this paled compared to that played by Jackie Bradley Jr., who hit the longest home run of his career -- 448 feet in true distance, according to ESPN Stats & Information -- to tie the score at 4 in the ninth against Jays closer Roberto Osuna, touching off a rally that did not end until the Sox had scored three more times.
Machi was back in the clubhouse by the time the Sox staged their comeback, then withstood Jose Bautista's two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth. But still, Lovullo couldn't resist describing the scene when he summoned Machi in to pitch with the bases full of Jays, a run already in, and no out in the eighth.
When Machi arrived on the mound, Lovullo noticed he was bleeding from a small cut on his left ear.
"Jean Machi went down in the bullpen, tripped on the stairs," he said. "I told the guys on the mound, ‘This is going to be a great story. Guy trips and falls, cuts his ear and gets us out of a jam. Can it get any better than that?' While he's bleeding, while I'm talking to him on the mound."
Machi struck out the first batter he faced, Russell Martin, but Kevin Pillar followed with a flared single, leaving it up to lefty Tommy Layne to bail the Sox out, which he did by inducing a double-play ball from Ryan Goins.
"Saved the game," Lovullo said.
At the time, Layne appeared to have accomplished nothing more than keeping the score close.
The Jays were 73-0 in games in which they led after eight innings, and there was no reason to suspect that this game would be any different, given that the Sox were 0-65 in games in which they trailed after eight.
But Brock Holt, who had doubled and scored in the seventh, when the Sox tied it at 2, led off the ninth with a double off Osuna, and one out later, Bradley launched his drive into the second deck in right-center field.
Yes, this was the same Bradley who after grounding out and striking out in his first two at-bats Saturday, was hitless in his past 21 at-bats and one for his past 32 at-bats with 18 strikeouts. But against a drawn-in infield in the seventh, Bradley had hit a ground ball sharply that bounced off the glove of second baseman Cliff Pennington and bounded into right field, Bradley hustling his way to a double that scored Holt to make it 2-all.
Bradley quickly fell behind Osuna 0-and-2 but worked the count to even before putting an exquisite swing on a 2-and-2 fastball, reminiscent of the way he'd been hitting before he'd fallen into a funk all too familiar because of earlier struggles.
"I think that was my first time ever facing him," Bradley said. "I said I wasn't trying to go deep, but it felt good to help the team and produce a tie game."
Before the game, Lovullo had talked about the club's determination to let Bradley work his way out of his slump, and rediscover his stroke, rather than sitting him. The decision proved fortuitous.
"That's the thing, I have been in those [hot] spells, I knew what it was all about," Bradley said. "I just kept swinging. Keep swinging. That's the only way you come out of it, and make sure you stay within your approach.
"I had to get my rhythm back. My rhythm was off a little, but hopefully things will sync back up."
The Jays, mindful that the Yankees had won earlier in the day, knew a loss would cost them a game off their lead, which is now 3½ games. But neither Osuna nor Aaron Sanchez could stem the tide. Osuna was lifted after issuing a two-out walk to Dustin Pedroia for Sanchez, who gave up a single to Bogaerts that sent Pedroia to second, then an opposite-field single to David Ortiz on which Pedroia scored with an elusive slide. A wild pitch scored Bogaerts, and after an intentional walk, Rusney Castillo singled in the final run of the inning.
That run became a big one when Jose Bautista hit a two-run homer off Robbie Ross Jr. in the bottom of the ninth.
"Feels good to win," Bradley said. "They're No. 1 in the division for a reason. Anytime we can win against the best, it's a positive."
Lovullo, whose record is 20-13 since taking over for Farrell, smiled when asked if Yankees manager Joe Girardi, whose team follows the Sox in here on Monday, had texted his thanks.
"No, he has not," Lovullo said. "But that's what it's all about. Playoff baseball. Playoff atmosphere. That's what it's all about."