Watching from the dugout as the Blue Jays strung together hit after hit left Joe Kelly with a surreal feeling.
When he came out of the game in the sixth inning, the Sox had a four-run cushion. It wasn’t as big as the seven-run lead they had piled up through three innings, but it felt like enough.
The Sox offense had done as many things right as possible. They sent 11 men to the plate in the first inning — the most they’d sent to the plate in an opening frame since 2011 — six of them got hits, and five of them scored.
David Ortiz shot a liner off the Monster for a two-run single. Pablo Sandoval and Mookie Betts smacked back-to-back homers — Sandoval’s into the Sox bullpen, Betts’s into the Monster seats.
Dustin Pedroia’s three-run blast onto Lansdowne Street in the third felt like a backbreaker.
By the seventh inning, the Sox’ five-run first inning felt like a lifetime ago. The 8-1 lead they built for themselves had unraveled.
The Blue Jays spent the seventh inning hacking away at the deficit.
They banged out eight hits and pushed across nine runs before an out was recorded, leaving the Sox shellshocked on their way to a 13-10 comeback win.
“Everyone saw what happened,” Kelly said. “These guys are a very good hitting team. Obviously one of the best in the league. Just kept chipping away, chipping away, putting good swings on balls. They were just hitting pretty much everything tonight.”
The seven-run lead was the largest the Sox have blown in three years.
In a way, as much as it would have made sense for him to be stunned, Sox manager John Farrell had braced himself for such an uprising before the game. The Jays built the eight-game winning streak they brought with them into Fenway on the back of a high-powered offense and dramatic comebacks.
Before the game, Farrell said, “They’ve shown on this winning streak — there’s been late-inning comebacks, there’s been walkoff hits — they’re a talented and deep righthanded-hitting lineup.”
Then it played out before his eyes.
Toronto strung together six straight hits to start the seventh, with Ryan Goins’s run-scoring double and Jose Reyes’s RBI single knocking reliever Matt Barnes out of the game before he could sit a batter down.
Farrell tried to stop things from getting out of hand, calling on Junichi Tazawa to put out the fire, but he couldn’t.
Josh Donaldson tagged him for a single and Jose Bautista jumped on a first-pitch fastball for a base hit that pushed another run across.
Tazawa gave up another hit to Edwin Encarnacion to load the bases.
Things snowballed from there.
Chris Colabello shot a sharp ground ball down the third base line at Pablo Sandoval, and Sandoval got his glove on it, but it squirmed out.
The error allowed Donaldson to score, tying it at 8-8.
The next batter, Russell Martin, took one of Tazawa’s forkballs and laced it over Rusney Castillo’s head in center field for a bases-clearing triple.
The Jays went from being in a seven-run hole to having a three-run cushion.
They still didn’t have an out in the inning, and they were still looking to tack on runs.
After Farrell pulled Tazawa for Tommy Layne, Justin Smoak came to the plate and shot a two-run blast into the Monster seats to make it 13-8.
“It was a long inning, obviously,” Farrell said. “We know that they’re an explosive, big-inning type of offense and that played out.
“They were able to fight off a number of good pitcher’s pitches and then didn’t miss any time we made a located pitch out on the plate. Couldn’t slow them down until the final nine-run tally.”
The Jays overcame the worst performance of the season from starter Drew Hutchison, who was tagged for eight runs in 2⅓ innings.
Even though Kelly gave up four runs on seven hits in his six innings, the Sox gave him more than enough runs to work with.
But as soon as he left, things unraveled. Between Barnes (three runs, three hits), Tazawa (five runs, four hits) and Layne (one home run), the Sox bullpen gave up all nine runs in the seventh.
“As you saw, they weren’t giving up,” Kelly said. “It’s a tough loss. Every loss is pretty tough, but stuff like that happens in baseball. Not all the time, obviously, but a pretty weird game to watch. Just crazy how those guys kept hammering the baseball.”
It was the Sox’ largest blown lead since April 2012, when they let a 9-0 advantage turn into a 15-9 loss to the Yankees.
After that meltdown, then-manager Bobby Valentine said, “If this isn’t bottom, we need to find some new ends of the earth.”
With his team still trying to claw out of last place in the AL East — now seven games back after losing four straight — Farrell was focused less on the way things bottomed out and more on how to move forward.
“I wouldn’t write this team off,” he said. “This is still a team that has got a long track record of individual performance and we have to put some things together as a team in all phases.”