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As is often the custom around here, let’s frame the taut nature of a particular contest by looking at the win expectancy chart — a graph that plots each team’s chances of winning the game as said game moves along. In this instance, it’s Sunday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays tilt in Toronto (BOS 11, TOR 8) …

The Boston Red Sox took an early 4-1 thanks in large part to a three-run blast by Jackie Bradley . In the bottom of the third, though, Troy Tulowitzki came up big for the hosts …

That was Tulo’s first grand slam in almost exactly eight years, and that, as noted by my colleague Matt Snyder, may have been the Rogers Centre at its most raucous since Jose Bautista ‘s “bat-flip” walk-off in the 2015 ALDS.

As you can see at top, the Toronto Blue Jays at one point in the fifth inning had an 81.8 percent chance of winning the game. Oh, this also helped the cause in that fifth frame …

Straight steal of home? Not on this day. In the sixth inning, the Jays held an 8-7 lead ( Hanley Ramirez homered for the seventh time in his last 14 games to chip away at that earlier margin) and had a 60.0 percent chance of winning when Boston warrior-poet David Ortiz stepped to the plate. This happened …

That turned an 8-7 deficit into a 10-8 lead for the Sox. That was also the 535th home run of Big Papi’s career, which means he’s now passed Jimmie Foxx on the all-time list and is alone in 18th place. Next up? Mickey Mantle at 536 homers. Ortiz’s three-run bomb also marked this occasion …

Ortiz is now batting .315/.403/.622 on the year with 32 homers, 45 doubles, and 71 walks against 72 strikeouts. In other words, he’s putting the finishing touches on what may be the greatest final season by a hitter in baseball history. Sunday’s clutch blast reminded us of that.

Those were also the first runs allowed by Joaquin Benoit since the Jays acquired him from the Seattle Mariners on July 26. His scoreless innings streak of 18 1/3 had been the second-longest in the majors.

All of that brings us to what unfolded in the home half of the ninth with the Red Sox up 11-8 and closer Craig Kimbrel on the bump. Edwin Encarnacion drew a leadoff walk, which was followed by a Jose Bautista strikeout. That brought Russell Martin up. Let’s roll tape …

Tough on there. We don’t get an ideal camera angle on the ball, but the trajectory and the sliver of the ball we can see as it hits the corner certainly make it appear to go foul. Again, though, there’s nothing definitive. Assuming the call was upheld because of a lack of clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, that’s a defensible decision. The changed call on the field, as a result, becomes that much more critical. Had the original fair call stood, then it likely would’ve been upheld on replay again because of a lack of countervailing evidence. Needless to say, Toronto skipper John Gibbons was less than pleased by these events. He was ejected for arguing the replay decision, and, as The Score notes, that was Gibbons’ eighth ejection of the season, which ties Bobby Cox’s 1985 franchise record. Congrats!

At risk of overstating things, I’ll say that the on-field decision to change the call from fair to foul — a reasonable decision, based on what we can see — may be looked back upon as a critical juncture in the AL playoff race for 2016.

Martin wound up striking out. Let’s go back to the win expectancy chart above and see that after that strikeout the Jays’ chances of winning the game dropped to a paltry 1.6 percent. And if Martin’s apparent double had stood? The Jays would’ve had runners on second and third with one and the potential tying run at the plate. Under those circumstances, they would’ve had an 8.4 percent chance of prevailing. Those aren’t healthy odds, but they’re at least playable.

Kimbrel got Tulowitzki to line out to end it, and the Boston lead in the AL East was nudged upward to 2.0 games. Now please consider this …

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Yep: The two squads combined to use 18 pitchers in a nine-inning game. That ties the record for most pitchers used in a nine-inning game in modern MLB history. So there’s that, too.


Coming into Sunday’s game, the SportsLine Projection System gave the Red Sox a 59.2 percent chance of winning the AL East. Consider that figure to be a bit higher now. As for the Jays, SportsLine on Sunday morning gave them a 28.8 percent chance of winning the division. That’s going to move down on Monday morning. Oh, thanks also to the Baltimore Orioles ‘ 3-1 win over the Detroit Tigers on Sunday, the Jays and O’s are now tied in the standings. They’re each presently in wild-card position, but the Tigers, New York Yankees , Houston Astros , Mariners, and Kansas City Royals are all within range.

Unfortunately for Jays rooters, there’s more. Toronto starter Aaron Sanchez , who’s been outstanding this season, turned in one of his worst ever starts on Sunday. That had much to do with blister problems, and now he’s facing some down time …

Likely, he’ll next start at some point in the three-game series in Seattle that starts on Sept. 19.

The good news is that they still have roughly an 8/10 chance of making the playoffs thanks to the two wild card berths that are in play.

Hey, there’s more good news! In defeat, Edwin Encarnacion homered twice, and he now has 39 on the year. Consider him well within range of his career high of 42, which he achieved in 2012.

Oh, there’s also this bit of consoling whimsy …

Know what helps? A dude catching a foul ball with a giant glove helps. Good work, people of Toronto.

As for the matter at hand, the Sox and Jays are now 8-8 against each other this season. It so happens they’ll end the regular season with a three-game set in Boston. That one could quite possibly decide the division crown and, by extension, the AL playoff bracket.

Developing!


Source: CBS Sports / The Red Sox and Blue Jays played one of the wildest slugfests of the MLB season