BOSTON, Massachusetts - If it was possible for steam to emit from a man's ears, manager John Gibbons' office would have been engulfed by a blinding fog after Sunday's 5-4 series-losing defeat to the Boston Red Sox.
"That's the most frustrating loss of the year, to be honest with you," said Gibbons. "Simply because of who we're playing, where we're at and so many opportunities. I can't remember that many opportunities we let get away."
Case in point: the sixth inning, when the Blue Jays were trailing 4-2. Josh Thole, who'd replaced Adam Lind – more on that in a moment – walked. Rajai Davis and Colby Rasmus followed with singles to load the bases with nobody out.
Toronto didn't score.
J.P. Arencibia and Maicer Izturis were retired on infield flies and Emilio Bonifacio, pinch hitting for Munenori Kawasaki against Red Sox' left-hander Craig Breslow, struck out. Inning over.
While the Jays did manage to recover, tying the game thanks to solo home runs by Jose Reyes in the seventh and Jose Bautista in the ninth, it wasn't enough.
With one out in the Boston ninth, Juan Perez gave up a single to Brandon Snyder and then walked Jacoby Ellsbury. Casey Janssen replaced Perez and got a ground ball out of Shane Victorino, which was misplayed by Thole and rolled into right field. Jonathan Diaz, pinch running for Snyder, scored the game-winning run.
Thole, appearing in only his second major league game at first base but who has played the position 156 times in the minors, cut to the chase.
"It sucks," he said. "I've just got to catch the ball and make an out."
Sport often weaves a narrative. In that vein, perhaps it's fitting that in their 81st game, the halfway point of what has been a disappointing season, the Blue Jays suffered a disappointing loss.
Lind woke up Sunday morning with tightness in his back, the first time this season he's made mention of a problem which plagued him between 2010-2012. Lind is hopeful he misses no more than "a couple of days."
After the game, it was revealed Mark DeRosa injured his neck taking batting practice on Sunday morning and wasn't available. Gibbons' short bench was rendered even shorter and he was forced to go with the struggling Bonifacio in that sixth inning pinch hit spot.
Perez, riding a 15-inning scoreless streak, took the loss when the unearned run scored in the ninth. Ordinarily, he wouldn't have been Gibbons' first choice to start the frame but because starters Chien-Ming Wang and Josh Johnson gave the club only five combined innings on Thursday and Friday nights, the bullpen was taxed.
In one game, it all added up. Just like inconsistent starting pitching, sometimes shoddy defence and hit-and-miss offence have conspired to add up to a 40-41 record through 81 games.
The second half begins with a Canada Day matinee back home against the Detroit Tigers.
The Blue Jays are expecting a sell-out crowd.
"Hopefully, the crowd gets behind us," said Mark Buehrle. "I mean, the last couple of games we were home, it was pretty impressive playing there. Hopefully, we can come back and start playing better."
Bautista has 200th home run ball
Jose Bautista hit the 200th and 201st home runs of his major league career in Saturday's 6-2 win over the Red Sox.
His 200th, a two run shot in the sixth, cleared the Green Monster seats and landed in the parking lot on the other side of the left field wall.
A clubhouse attendant retrieved the ball for Bautista, who, by the way, was wearing a pair of R.A. Dickey's pants to accommodate the high socks look.
Bautista changed his look to change his luck at the plate and, apparently, it worked.
He had three hits, including a game-tying home run (202) in the ninth, in Sunday's series finale.
Reyes being patient with himself
Superstars are used to having success. It makes the first few games after a long injury layoff especially difficult.
Jose Reyes keeps reminding himself to be patient, stay positive.
"I'm just going to continue to go to home plate aggressive," said Reyes. "I know that I missed a long time and it's going to take a little while. Hopefully sooner than later, I get my timing back but I'm going to go to home plate with the same attitude and just try to put a good swing on the ball. Whatever happens, happens. I come in here and work with (hitting coach) Chad (Mottola) every day on my swing and I need to understand that it's a process."
In five games since his return from a 66-game absence with a sprained left ankle, Reyes is 4-19 (.211) with a home run and two walks.