It was a game that, by all accounts, was just a prolonged funeral march for the beleaguered, not to mention ransacked, Toronto Blue Jays.
It was four hours and thirty-three minutes of mostly torturous twists and turns that ended for the home side, at least from a defensive standpoint, with infielder Steve Tolleson having to take the mound against the Boston Red Sox in the top of the 11th inning to finally secure the final two outs.
“We’re not proud of that,” said Toronto manager John Gibbons about having to use Tolleson for the second time this season to close out a game after the Red Sox ravaged the Blue Jays bullpen.
And by becoming just the third position player in Blue Jays history to pitch multiple outings in a season, Tolleson was given a rather sardonic standing ovation by the few hearty souls who still remained within Rogers Centre when the final pitch was thrown with midnight just 20 minutes away.
The final score was 11-7 for Boston, Toronto’s third loss in a row and 12th in their last 17 contests as the Blue Jays continue their prolonged final kiss goodbye to the American League playoffs.
About the only positive aspect from the Blue Jays perspective is that the team continues to battle late into games.
The loss against Boston was the fourth consecutive time Toronto has taken a game into extra innings, something that hasn’t happened with this franchise since 1991.
Boston won after erupting for seven runs in the 11th inning, most of the damage occurring against closer Casey Janssen who was rocked for four runs off two hits to absorb the loss.
That included a key two-run single by Dustin Pedroia with the bases loaded and the score deadlocked at 4-4 that opened the floodgates for the Red Sox, who would go on to stroke two home runs in the decisive inning, including a moon shot off the bat of Mike Napoli.
The ball Napoli tattooed landed a couple of rows back in the left field third-level seats, just the 17th time in the history of Rogers Centre that a hit has carried that far.
With the loss, Toronto’s record has fallen back to .500 at 66-66, the first time they’ve been that low since May 13th when the Blue Jays were 20-20.
Toronto remains in third place in the A.L. East, 10 games back of the Baltimore Orioles with 30 games left to play in the regular-season schedule.
The club is in fourth place among teams vying for one of two wild-card playoff berths, 6.5-games off the pace.
Gibbons was asked if his toughest job will be trying just to rally his battered team from what must be the depths of depression to try to win Wednesday night’s game against Boston to at least stave off a three-game sweep.
“We shouldn’t have to pick it up,” Gibbons said. “These guys are big-league players. You’ve got some young kids, but you’ve got some guys that have been around a while. I don’t think that will be necessary.
“They’re feeling it, like everybody else. That turning point could have been this homestand and we’ve lost some tough ones, games that we could have won every one of them. We haven’t done it. If we’re going to get to the top you’ve got to win those games because that’s what the winning teams do.”
As for Janssen, his second-half woes continue – his post all-star earned run average having rocketed to 7.98 after having allowed 13 earned runs over his last 14.2-innings pitched.
Tuesday night he was the author of most of his misery after giving up a lead-off single to Mookie Betts to begin the 11th, his second inning of work in the game.
And when he fielded a sacrifice bunt off the bat of Christian Vazquez, Janssen chose to make the throw to second base to try to get the lead runner but Betts beat the relay.
And when Janssen then mishandled another bunt off the bat of Brock Holt for an error, that left the bases loaded with none out for Pedroia, who lives for those occasions.
“You know what, it was a lot worse than it should have been,” lamented Janssen, who continues to insist he feels fine physically. “Just get ready to go [on Wednesday].”
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