With John Farrell back in town and the Rogers Centre rocking as though flashing back to 1993, the Blue Jays recovered from a three-run deficit, but mistakes and a short bullpen conspired against the comeback as the Red Sox won, 6-4.
The Jays newcomers factored heavily into the outcome.
Jose Reyes had four hits with a pair of doubles, two RBIs and a game-tying solo home run in the seventh inning. He also ran the team out of a possible rally in the fifth inning, trying to stretch his run-scoring double into a triple with none out.
After making a pair of game saving plays on Thursday night against Cleveland, second baseman Emilio Bonifacio made three errors and nearly a fourth at second base.
“Too many mistakes tonight,” manager John Gibbons said. “You’re not going to win games like that.”
With Brett Lawrie remaining out of the lineup due to a ribcage strain, Gibbons returned Maicer Izturis to third base on Friday, after using Mark DeRose at the station on Thursday. Izturis, used primarily as a middle infielder by the Los Angeles Angels over the past few years, has struggled defensively at third in each of his three starts. In the eighth inning, with runners at second and third and the scored tied 4-4, Boston scored the go-ahead run as Izturis backhanded Mike Napoli’s check-swing grounder but stumbled to the ground, negating his chance for the play at the plate.
Josh Johnson, following the debuts of R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle, allowed nine hits and four runs in his first start for the Blue Jays, including a two-run homer by Napoli for a 4-1 lead in the fifth inning. Three of the eight relief pitchers were unavailable on Friday, meaning the Jays needed some innings from Johnson and the Bonifacio errors hindered that objective. Two Bonifacio errors in the fourth inning led to an unearned run.
“I found a way to battle, found a way to get some outs, but I’ve got to be more efficient,” Johnson said, after his first AL start. As for the errors, “That’s just part of it. I’ve got to pick him up there.”
“Johnson really battled on a night we needed some innings,” Gibbons said. “A couple errors cost him some pitches, and he did a heckuva job.”
Casey Janssen, Darren Oliver and Steve Delebar were unavailable Friday owing to workload in the Cleveland series. Consequently, Gibbons had to use Esmil Rogers and Jeremy Jeffress late in the game, whereas they are usually deployed in the middle innings.
Rogers gave up the go-ahead run in the eight for the loss, and Jeffress, in his first outing since spring training, allowed an insurance run in the ninth.
A roaring, rowdy crowd of 45,328 booed former Jays manager John Farrell each time he stepped from the dugout.
After Napoli's two-run homer, Toronto came back on Mark DeRosa's solo homer - his first in three years, to the day - and a run-scoring double by Reyes in the bottom of the fifth.
Reyes's solo homer in the seventh, his fourth hit of the game, tied the score, 4-4.
Rogers, obtained from Cleveland for the player the Jays extracted from Boston in exchange for Farrell, allowed the go-ahead run as pinch hitter Jonny Gomes walked, went to third on Dustin Pedroia's double, and scored when Izturis stumbled.
Toronto is 1-3 on the season, Boston 3-1. Dickey lost the opener, Buehrle and Johnson got no-decisions.
As the game wore on the Bronx cheer of “Farrell, Farrell” erupted in the stands, with other cruder variations of the original chant.
Despite the taunts Farrell took the high road after the game.
“Given the circumstances, the fans had fun with the situation,” he said. “...I can fully respect and can understand the sentiment, the questions and maybe what might transpire here tonight (from the fans). That to me shows there’s a lot of passion here for baseball.”
With a report from The Canadian Press