TORONTO - At this point the Blue Jays will take a victory. No matter how imperfect, how ugly, any victory these days is a beautiful thing.
"But we won the game," said manager John Gibbons, interested more in enjoying a happy finish to a miserable April, a 9-7 win over Boston, than rehashing how another game almost slipped through his club's grasp.
Gibbons can thank Edwin Encarnacion, who hit two two-run home runs, including a moon shot into the 500 level in the fifth and a game-changing shot in the seventh.
"It's big, it's big for us right now the way we've been playing the last couple of games," said Encarnacion, who pulled into a tie with Baltimore's Chris Davis for the American League lead with nine home runs. "We haven't been playing great so to win the opening game of the home stand is very important for us so we're going to keep (our) heads up, keep going."
To best consider the importance of Encarnacion's seventh inning home run, consider all that happened beforehand and how it seemed to have awakened the demons the club is battling.
The Blue Jays, losers of four-straight after being swept over the weekend at Yankee Stadium, led 4-0 after scoring three runs in the third. It marked the sixth consecutive game in which Toronto held a lead.
For the sixth consecutive game, the Jays squandered the lead. Boston chipped away with two solo home runs in the fourth and an RBI single in the fifth to close the gap to 4-3.
Toronto regained breathing room on Encarnacion's first homer but with the score 6-4 in the seventh, Boston had a runner on first and one out. Daniel Nava hit a tailor-made double play ball to shortstop Munenori Kawasaki, who committed an error when his throw eluded Maicer Izturis at second. All hands were safe; Boston would score three times and take the 7-6 lead.
Déjà vu was setting in until the club's two biggest offensive threats did their thing. Jose Bautista worked a seventh inning, two-out walk from down 1-2 in the count, which paved the way for Encarnacion to play the hero.
"Huge day, huge day," said Gibbons of Encarnacion. "He's been on some kind of roll lately. Early on he was hitting a lot of balls on the money and had nothing to show for it and now he's found that groove."
Whether the club showed resilience in Tuesday's victory is in the eye of the beholder. If not for Encarnacion's power stroke, it's likely the Blue Jays lose. Whether the club can build momentum off the win remains to be seen but immediate history suggests it won't. The come-from-behind win in Detroit on April 10 and last Wednesday's extra innings defeat of the Orioles are two victories where momentum was the hot topic post-game, yet both were followed by uninspired losses.
Closer Casey Janssen, who converted his seventh save and sixth while facing an inning's minimum of three batters, is hopeful the turnaround started Tuesday night and will last through the home stand.
"We're still waiting to play those complete games, you know all the way through," said Janssen. "It's there; we see glimpses of it but we need to do it for nine innings and then we need to do it for three, four, five games in a row."
- The announced attendance was 22,915 and the crowd was far more subdued in its treatment of Red Sox manager John Farrell, who received only a smattering of boos when he brought out the lineup card before the game.
- Jonny Gomes' home run off Aaron Loup in the sixth inning was the first home run Loup allowed since debuting as a Blue Jay. Loup holds the club record off 44 appearances without a home run against to begin a Blue Jays' career.
Scott Schoeneweis holds the all-time Blue Jays' mark with 70 consecutive appearances without allowing a home run.