Before Saturday's game, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons was ruminating on hockey and all the games he'd seen is his life.
One at the old Montreal Forum. Another at Nassau Coliseum. Some minor league outfit in Goose Bay, Newfoundland. He seems to remember all of them, and fondly. "(Hockey)'s not a cupcake sport, like this one," Gibbons winked.
Three hours later, it didn't feel like one.
The Blue Jays held two leads late against the Boston Red Sox – going into the 7th and 9th innings. They couldn't hold either one.
The 9th was a particular disaster zone. Staked a 4-2 lead, twenty-year-old closer Roberto Osuna looked his age against the bottom third of the Boston order. He gave up a lead-off double to Brock Holt, followed quickly by a Jackie Bradley Jr. home run.
The usual 8th inning man, Aaron Sanchez, spelled Osuna and was no better. He let four consecutive hitters reach base – three singles and a walk. It was 7-4 by the time Ryan Tepera finally put the inning out of its misery.
Amazingly, the Jays nearly reeled it back in in the bottom half. Josh Donaldson drew a two-out walk. Jose Bautista nailed the next pitch into the outfield bleachers. Pinch hitter Matt Hague then hammered a ball against the centre-field fence for a double.
But Justin Smoak grounded out to end it, 7-6.
Nowhere close to a great result, but great entertainment. Following a Yankees win over the New York Mets earlier in the day, the Jays' lead in the AL East drops to 3.5 games.
Up until that point, it had all the hallmarks of a typical Jays win – strong starting pitching from R.A. Dickey; an Edwin Encarnacion home run; a kamikaze slide from Josh Donaldson at the plate to give his team the late lead.
It felt like (the new) same ol', same ol'.
The difference was the collapse of the usually dependable Sanchez/Osuna pairing. One wonders if this is an unfortunate blip, or the unspooling of two very green players after a very long season.
For instance, Osuna had given up 3 home runs from April to August. He's now given up that many since Sept. 1st.
But until their problems begin repeating, there's no sense in worrying about them. The Jays have one more game against the Red Sox on Sunday afternoon. The Yankees arrive Monday for a three-game set.
The opportunity still exists to dust off the regular season over the next week.