TORONTO â€” The silence of the Toronto Blue Jays’ clubhouse after another loss Thursday was interrupted by the occasional deep exhale or the sound of clothes being jammed into suitcases.
Maybe a trip out of town is the best thing for Major League Baseball’s cellar dwellers.
Toronto capped a 2-7 homestand by dropping a 4-1 decision to the Boston Red Sox in a matinee at Rogers Centre. Mookie Betts delivered the key blow with a three-run double in the 10th inning off Jason Grilli.
It’s the first time in franchise history that the Blue Jays (3-12) have lost five series in a row.
“Losing only makes you appreciate winning,” Grilli said. “There’s not much else to say. There’s no words right now.”
There was no post-game music in the hushed clubhouse after the game. Many players sat in chairs by their stalls with despondent looks on their faces.
The feeling was in stark contrast to the optimism at the start of the regular season. Many baseball observers felt the Blue Jays had a decent chance of making the playoffs for the third straight year.
At the moment, just getting out of the American League East basement appears to be a major challenge.
“It’s not difficult,” Grilli said. “This is our division. We’re a good team, we’re just not playing up to our calibre.”
The Blue Jays managed only five hits on the day, one of them a solo shot in the ninth inning by Kendrys Morales that tied the game.
Boston starter Chris Sale was dominant over eight shutout innings. He struck out 13 batters in all â€” including Jose Bautista and Jarrod Saltalamacchia four times apiece.
“He was outstanding,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “Powerful, a lot of strikes. All three pitches working. He had such good swing-and-miss (action) to his fastball up and away. Eight dominant innings.”
Bautista, who’s mired in an 0-for-16 slump, saw his average fall to .109.
“I’ve got to figure out a way to get back on track and start doing more at the plate and putting us in better situations to win games,” he said.
Toronto starter Marco Estrada turned in a solid performance with six shutout innings. He allowed three hits and struck out seven while walking a pair.
The veteran right-hander is hopeful the team will bounce back on a seven-game road trip beginning Friday in Anaheim.
“It’s weird, it’s just hard to explain right now,” he said. “We really don’t know what’s going on. I feel like we have been playing better as of late and I think things are going to turn around.
“It almost feels like the first few weeks were a fluke almost. It just shouldn’t happen to a team like this.”
Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna gave up the game’s first run in the ninth inning. Mitch Moreland hit a two-out double and scored on a Xander Bogaerts single.
Morales hit his third homer of the season in the bottom half to hand Craig Kimbrel (1-0) his first blown save.
In the 10th, Grilli (0-2) gave up a single and two walks before Betts drove a ball into the left-field corner to silence the crowd of 44,283 at Rogers Centre.
“The bases are loaded, you don’t have a lot of wiggle room in that situation,” Grilli said. “So I tried to come in on him. He’s a good hitter, he got his hands in (the right spot) and did what he could. You tip your hat to him.”
Notes: The game took three hours seven minutes to play. … Mat Latos (season debut) is scheduled to start for the Blue Jays on Friday against fellow right-hander Alex Meyer (season debut). … Right-hander Casey Lawrence will start for Toronto on Saturday. Latos and Lawrence are filling in for injured starters J.A. Happ and Aaron Sanchez. … The Red Sox will continue their road swing with a weekend series in Baltimore.
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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press