Strikes and gutters for Bailey

BOSTON -- Friday night seemed like it was going to be one of progress for Boston Red Sox reliever Andrew Bailey.

Entering in relief of starter Allen Webster, who left with a one-run lead, Bailey was set to face the top of the Toronto Blue Jays' dangerous lineup in the top of the seventh.

After Bailey struck out both Jose Reyes and Jose Bautista to start the inning, Blue Jays third baseman Edwin Encarnacion stepped up to the plate. And it became déjà vu all over again for Bailey.

"I got the first two guys and I was just trying to challenge the third guy," Bailey said after the game.

Encarnacion accepted Bailey's challenge, cranking a 94 mph fastball over the center-field wall to tie the game. The home run allowed was Bailey's fifth in his past seven appearances.

"Right now when they're hitting me, they're hitting me hard," Bailey said. "You've got to learn from your mistakes, and if you dwell on them you take that into your next outing."

The Red Sox were able to pick Bailey up shortly afterward, scoring two in the seventh to lead to an eventual 7-5 win. However, Bailey knows that there still is work to be done.

"This is a very frustrating time, but I know that I still have confidence," Bailey said. "It really challenges your character when you're struggling, and you've just got to keep grinding and get back out there."

Despite the struggle, there were still some positives to take away from Bailey's outing. Both his strikeouts to Reyes and Bautista were on fastballs, the pitch on which he's been struggling to get swings and misses. Manager John Farrell believes that this will be the key for Bailey moving forward.

"We saw the swing and miss to the fastball up, that's somewhat been his trademark so there's better life up through the zone," Farrell said. "I thought the two [strikeouts] were very encouraging."

For now, Bailey is focused on taking away the positives from his outing. Although it resulted in another blown lead, the former closer was happy to get another shot at performing in a pressure situation.

"I feel like that's where I belong," Bailey said. "It's been a rough couple of outings and I just got to keep grinding. I know I can get the job done."