TORONTO — David Ortiz tried to have a sense of perspective after the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Red Sox, 9-7, Tuesday night.
“It was a good game,” Ortiz said. “Everybody did what they were supposed to. They scored a couple of runs at the end. Come back tomorrow and have the same attitude.”
That’s easy for Ortiz to say given that he’s the hottest hitter in baseball at the moment. He drove in four more runs with a home run and a double. In nine games since coming off the disabled list, Ortiz is 18 of 36 with nine extra-base hits and 11 RBIs.
The rest of the Red Sox weren’t quite so magnanimous.
Manager John Farrell was upset with a fill-in umpire. Starting pitcher Jon Lester was angry with himself. Reliever Junichi Tazawa sat at his locker with his head in his hands.
“Tough game to lose,” second baseman Dustin Pedroia said after the Sox ended a five-game win streak.
Edwin Encarnacion had the big hit for Toronto, a two-run homer to center field off Tazawa in the seventh inning. It was his second of the game and gave the Blue Jays an 8-7 lead.
Tazawa (2-1) had not allowed more than one earned run in a game since his rookie year in 2009.
But Lester absolved Tazawa of blame, saying it was his fault the Red Sox lost.
“Yeah, absolutely,” Lester said. “He was in a tough spot. Hell, I’ll take Taz 10 out of 10 times in that matchup.”
Lester allowed six runs, five earned, on six hits and two walks over six innings. It was a struggle from the start for him as he allowed a run in the first, three in the third, and two more in the fifth when Encarnacion hit his first home run, a shot into the fifth deck in left field.
“It was one of those nights from pitch one,” said Lester, who has given up eight earned runs in his last 11⅔ innings. “I wasn’t able to repeat. I had to grind it out. I never felt good.”
Farrell, meanwhile, was questioning the judgment of plate umpire Clint Fagan, a replacement called up from Triple A for the series.
The Blue Jays had the bases loaded with no outs in the third inning when the Red Sox called a play to try a pickoff at first base.
Farrell, who managed Toronto for two seasons, knew that Jose Bautista tended to drift off the bag. With Encarnacion up, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia was supposed to snap a throw to Mike Napoli.
As the play developed, Saltalamacchia thought he had Bautista, who was just turning to go back to first. But his elbow struck Fagan’s mask and the throw went into right field. Two runs scored.
Fagan, according to Farrell, claimed the contract came during Saltalamacchia’s follow-through.
“Which was kind of impossible,” Saltalamacchia said. “I told him that.”
Farrell spoke to Fagan after the inning.
“That should have been a dead ball,” Farrell said. “He didn’t see it the way we saw it.”
According to the Major League rulebook, the Sox had a case. Rule 5.09 (b) says that runners may not advance if the plate umpire interferes with the catcher’s throw.
Saltalamacchia did not protest at the time. Had he done so immediately and gotten other umpires involved, there could have been a different call.
Saltalamacchia said umpires have made contact with him in the past and he didn’t realize the rule. He regretted not arguing.
“Every run counts,” he said. “Obviously, like tonight, that could have been a big part of the game.”
Toronto starter Brandon Morrow was working on a one-hit shutout through three innings and had struck out five. The righthander was featuring a fastball in the upper 90s and a slider that was darting across the plate.
Trailing, 4-0, the Sox got solo home runs by Ortiz and Mike Carp in the fourth inning. For Ortiz, it extended his hit streak to 21 games dating to last July 2.
It was the first home run of the season for Carp and his eighth extra-base hit in seven games with an at-bat. He has taken full advantage of the playing time created by Shane Victorino’s absence with a back injury.
The Sox scored another run in the fifth inning but were left with a bad feeling.
Stephen Drew led off with a single and went to second on a single by Jacoby Ellsbury. Pedroia singled with one out and Drew scored, sliding to the inside part of the plate and slapping his hand down to avoid the throw from center fielder Colby Rasmus.
Ortiz struck out, bringing Napoli to the plate. Ellsbury then was picked off second by Morrow to end the inning.
Given Ellsbury’s speed and the fact there were two outs and a run-producer at the plate, his straying off the base made little sense.
“At the time, over-aggressiveness on our part,” Farrell said. “Felt like we had Morrow coming to the end of the night. Unfortunately he got picked off second. Not a real good heads-up play given the game situation.”
Jonny Gomes had a pinch hit homer in the sixth inning off reliever Aaron Loup. Ortiz then put the Sox on top with a three-run double.
“Just hard work,” Ortiz said when asked to explain his hitting .500 with a 1.430 OPS despite missing all of spring training.
After Encarnacion gave Toronto the lead, relievers Darren Oliver and Casey Janssen held it. When Joel Hanrahan allowed a run in the eighth inning, hopes of a second comeback faded.
“We’ll be OK,” Ortiz on his way out of the Rogers Centre. “That was just one game.”