TORONTO — The Red Sox scored 14 runs against the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday night, extending their win streak to five games and generating somewhat reasonable expectations they could contend for a playoff berth after all.
How long ago that seems. Only a bloop single off the bat of Shane Victorino leading off the seventh inning saved the Red Sox from the ignominy of a no-hitter on Thursday afternoon.
An 8-0 loss against the Blue Jays should end any suggestion the Sox are anything more than what their 47-55 record says they are. They have lost three straight and are again buried in last place in the American League East.
A bad day got worse in the ninth inning when David Ortiz left the game after a check swing. He had spasms in the middle of his back and is day-to-day.
Ortiz said he felt “a little pop” in his back in his final at-bat on Wednesday night but felt fine when he arrived at Rogers Centre for the final game of the series. That changed when he tried to hold up his swing while facing Rob Rasmussen.
“I made like a rough move on that pitch, like tried to go and stop. It pulled me a little bit more today,” Ortiz said. “Hopefully it’s not anything serious. We’ll see how it feels tomorrow.”
Ortiz left the park with a pain-relieving patch on his back. For the desperate Red Sox, even just a few days without their most productive hitter would be damaging. They start a three-game series against Tampa Bay on Friday night.
“We’ve got our hands full,” acknowledged manager John Farrell.
Rookie righthander Marcus Stroman and two relievers held the Sox to one hit and five walks. The Sox did not advance a runner beyond second base until the ninth inning.
Stroman (6-2) walked two and struck out seven. The 23-year-old overmatched the Red Sox with a mid-90s fastball that was made more effective by his ability to throw breaking pitches for strikes.
He had retired 11 straight before Victorino dropped a single into center field, the ball landing just far enough over the infield.
Stroman then got Ortiz on a fly ball to left field before Mike Napoli grounded into a double play.
It was the 10th time this season the Red Sox have been shut out and the ninth time they were held to three or fewer hits.
With the non-waiver trade deadline next Thursday, the Red Sox may soon be selling off players and fully committing to the idea of preparing for next season.
“I think there will be moves that will go on regardless of our record over the next seven days,” Farrell said before the game. “All that will play out in time.”
Rubby De La Rosa (3-3) had his worst start of the season, allowing seven runs (six earned) on nine hits over four-plus innings.
Juan Francisco was 3 for 4 with a triple, a home run, and four RBIs for the Blue Jays. Melky Cabrera was 3 for 4 with three doubles, a walk, and two RBIs.
Toronto had 14 hits off De La Rosa, Burke Badenhop, Felix Doubront, and Edward Mujica.
De La Rosa had little command of his pitches, throwing only 58 of 92 for strikes. When he did come over the plate, he was hit hard.
“I could not control my fastball,” De La Rosa said.
Defensive mistakes, as is often the case for the Red Sox, played a role.
Toronto scored its first run in the first inning when rookie catcher Christian Vazquez had a passed ball with the bases loaded.
“He was having trouble with his location. That happened on that pitch and some others,” Vazquez said. “It was a bad day but he will learn from it.”
In the second inning, Francisco drove a pitch to the gap in right field. Jackie Bradley Jr. ran the ball down but it deflected off his glove. Francisco was credited with a triple. He scored on a double by Ryan Goins.
Cabrera’s first double then made it 3-0.
“We were behind the 8-ball right from the first or second inning and never really were in this one,” Farrell said.
With two outs and a runner on first base, Francisco homered in the third inning. It was his 15th of the season and third against the Red Sox.
De La Rosa allowed two more runs in the fifth. He is 3-0 with a 1.38 earned run average in four starts at Fenway Park but 0-3, 6.04 in four starts on the road.
“I tried to have everything the same here like at Fenway,” De La Rosa said. “It doesn’t make any sense to me.”