The only topic of conversation in a sullen Blue Jays locker-room was Todd Redmond.
There wasn’t much else worth talking about.
It wasn’t as though Redmond pitched a no-hitter — he didn’t even make it to the seventh inning — but a gutsy performance by the 28-year-old gave Toronto some hope on Tuesday night.
That hope slowly eroded the moment Redmond left the field, and in the 11th inning Shane Victorino’s two-run single gave the Boston Red Sox a 4-2 win they had been threatening ever since the moment the Blue Jays turned to their bullpen.
But no one wanted to talk about that. So the focus was on Redmond, who was called up from triple-A Buffalo to start the game. He said he was proud he was able to grind out an appearance against the American League East leaders, even if the Blue Jays have now lost three straight.
“With a team like this you’ve got to be able to throw strikes and get strike one, and I was able to do that tonight,” said Redmond. “I was pretty successful against a really good team.”
The right-hander allowed just three hits with five strikeouts through 5 1-3 spotless innings on the strength of an effective fastball-slider combination that baffled the Red Sox (72-49) but required a high pitch count.
Redmond looked like a different pitcher than he did in his last appearance with the Blue Jays (54-65) when he gave up three runs on seven hits in just 3 2-3 innings against the Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 2.
“I think I threw the ball well,” he said. “J.P. (Arencibia) did a great job behind the plate tonight calling the game and our defence played very well tonight.”
Arencibia wasn’t so sure.
Toronto’s catcher hit a solo shot in the eighth inning to tie the game 2-2 and put himself second on the Blue Jays’ all-time homer list for a catcher with 60. He was also responsible for the RBI single that gave the team a 1-0 lead in the fifth.
Arencibia called Redmond “fantastic,” but when the topic shifted to the bullpen’s performance he preferred to take the blame. The Blue Jays needed seven relievers to finish the game, another long day for a team whose bullpen leads the majors in innings pitched. Aaron Loup (4-5), who allowed Victorino’s winning single, took the loss.
“Maybe I could have called a different pitch. Maybe I could have done something different back there to get those guys out,” said Arencibia. “(I) think they’ve done a great job. In this game no one’s definitely unhittable. The best of the best give up runs. Like I said, maybe I could have called something different.”
Trailing 1-0, the Red Sox offence was stymied until the seventh inning when Will Middlebrooks doubled off Sergio Santos and then scored on a single by Jacoby Ellsbury that tied the game.
Dustin Pedroia brought home Ellsbury two batters later to put the Red Sox ahead 2-1.
Boston starter Ryan Dempster of Gibsons, B.C., finished after seven innings of work with just the one run allowed on four hits with four strikeouts. Koji Uehara (3-0) pitched 1 1-3 innings to finish the game and pick up the win.
“I felt like I was able to make pitches when I was behind in the count, which is huge,” said Dempster. “I had a real good split tonight, that’s probably what kept them off balance more than anything.”
Dempster completed the fifth inning with 61 pitches to Redmond’s 86 but still gave up the first run. Brett Lawrie of Langley, B.C., doubled off Dempster and took third on a sacrifice fly before scoring on a single by Arencibia that gave the Blue Jays the lead.
Redmond lasted just eight more pitches into the sixth. He hit Victorino on his 92nd effort, then got Pedroia to fly out two pitches later. That ended Redmond’s night, and he walked off the field to applause from the 32,816 fans at Rogers Centre.
“Shoot, I thought he was great,” said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. “He pitched tonight like he’s been pitching all year. ... First thing, he’s a great competitor. You know he’s gotten an opportunity here and he’s taken advantage of it.”
Brett Cecil took over for Toronto and promptly gave up a single to David Ortiz and walked Daniel Nava to load the bases. But he escaped danger by striking out Mike Napoli and getting Stephen Drew to fly out.
The Blue Jays attempted to add another run in the bottom of the sixth when Jose Reyes appeared to frustrate Dempster at second base and elicited several throws from the Boston pitcher.
Reyes’ gamesmanship meant little when Edwin Encarnacion’s drive to right was relayed home by Victorino, where Saltalamacchia easily tagged Reyes.
Notes: The Blue Jays placed starting pitcher Josh Johnson on the 15-day disabled list with tightness in his right forearm. Toronto called up RHP Thad Weber from triple-A Buffalo to replace Johnson. RHP Esmil Rogers (3-7, 5.12 earned-run average) will start in place of Johnson on Wednesday against Boston left Jon Lester (10-7, 4.37 ERA). ... Blue Jays reliever Juan Perez has elected to skip Tommy John surgery in favour of eight weeks rehab. Perez suffered a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow Friday against Oakland. ... Toronto centre-fielder Colby Rasmus was given a second straight day off with an oblique strain suffered Sunday against Oakland. Gibbons said prior to the game he hopes Rasmus plays Wednesday but didn’t rule out a trip to the disabled list.