TORONTO — The Red Sox were down to their final strike on Sunday afternoon when Rafael Devers silenced the crowd of 41,876 at Rogers Centre with a game-tying home run to left field.
It was a lightning bolt the other way, the ball landing deep in a section of seats next to the foul pole as Devers flipped his bat and trotted around the bases.
But satisfaction has been fleeting for the Red Sox for the last several weeks, and was again.
It took the Blue Jays only three batters to win the game in the bottom of the ninth inning, Matt Chapman slamming an RBI triple off the wall in center for a 3-2 victory.
“We want different results and it’s not happening right now,” Sox manager Alex Cora said.
The Sox have lost four in a row, 10 of 12, and 15 of their last 20, a collapse that has left them 74-76 with 12 games remaining.
With Cavan Biggio on first base and one out, Garrett Whitlock threw a two-strike changeup that Chapman swung at. But first base umpire Brennan Miller ruled he didn’t go around.
The next pitch was a sinker that stayed up and Chapman hit it hard. Rookie Wilyer Abreu, who entered the game in the eighth inning, gave chase but couldn’t make what would have been a tremendous catch.
Biggio raced around from first base and the Jays had their second walkoff win in as many days.
“It was a very difficult play,” Abreu said via a translator. “I did everything I could.”
Abreu jammed his left hand and wrist trying to brace himself against the wall and his arm was wrapped in ice as he spoke to reporters. The medical staff doesn’t believe the injury will require X-rays.
The battered Sox now have three games at Texas, another team fighting for a playoff spot, starting Monday night. The Sox are 4-14 against contending teams going back to Aug. 21.
Poor pitching and defense, issues all season, weren’t the problem Sunday. Nick Pivetta allowed two runs on four hits over 6⅓ innings and struck out six without a walk.
“The defense played well behind me and I kept the ball in the strike zone,” said Pivetta, who has never won in his native Canada.
The Jays took the lead in the second inning when Biggio singled, went to third on a double down the left-field line by Chapman, and scored on Kevin Kiermaier’s sacrifice fly.
The second run was a solo homer by Daulton Varsho in the fifth inning. Pivetta got ahead, 1 and 2, but Varsho hung in and got a hanging curveball on the eighth pitch and drove it 392 feet to right field.
The Sox finally scored in the seventh inning. Rob Refsnyder drew a walk off Genesis Cabrera before Devers was hit by a pitch. Pablo Reyes singled to left field with two outs to drive in Refsnyder.
The Sox had nine hits and drew four walks but were 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position and left 12 men on base.
They had runners at second and third with no outs in both the second and third innings and couldn’t score against Hyun Jin Ryu despite putting the ball in play six times.
They were 3 for 33 with runners in scoring position for the series, scoring in only four of the 31 innings. Going back eight games, the Sox are 9 of 87 (.103) with runners in scoring position.
“It’s snowballing,” Justin Turner said. “We’ve got to slow down and take what the game gives you. We’re all trying to do too much because everyone is aware of what’s going on.”
A good example came in the third inning. With runners on second and third and no outs, Refsnyder was up 2 and 0 against Ryu. He swung at a changeup off the plate and flied out to left field.
It’s been like that for the entire team.
Even good intentions have bad timing these days as Sunday was rookie dress-up day for the Sox. The newcomers had to wear denim shorts and a sleeveless denim shirt for the trip, which included going through customs.
There were some forced smiles and quiet jokes in the clubhouse, but not many. The most fun left now will be getting this season finished.