TORONTO -- There are no easy wins in major league baseball, but when you're the first-place Boston Red Sox, you have to be expect more than one win in three games with the last-place Toronto Blue Jays. The Sox had more than enough chances to leave Toronto with a sweep, yet just couldn't seem to deliver enough big hits.
Thursday's 2-1 loss was a perfect example, as the Red Sox stranded 12 baserunners and were 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position. It capped off a frustrating series at the plate for Boston as the club was a combined 6-for-34 with runners in scoring position and stranded 33 men over the three games.
"There's been some frustration on this trip," manager John Farrell said. "Any time you have a 4-6 road trip it's disappointing given how well we've played on the road over the year and particularly given the opportunities we created for ourselves."
After taking two of three games from the major league-worst Astros to begin their 10-game road swing, the Red Sox posted a 2-5 record over the Toronto series and four games in Kansas City. In total, Boston went 23-for-93 (.247) with runners in scoring position over the 10 games and left 92 men on base.
The tone was set from the very first inning on Thursday. Dustin Pedroia delivered a two-out single, advanced to second on a David Ortiz walk and then was thrown out at home plate trying to score on a Jonny Gomes single. Jays left fielder Kevin Pillar cleanly fielded Gomes' line drive and threw home, where Pedroia tried to score standing up and missed the plate entirely on his first pass. Catcher J.P. Arencibia didn't make the tag initially, leading to a brief, confused standoff between the two men beyond the plate, but Pedroia had nowhere to go.
"J.P. didn't move so I was trying to let the ball hit me," Pedroia explained about his approach to the plate. "Usually when you slide you go on the other side but he stayed on that side, so I thought the ball was tailing and it never hit it. ... It was kind of an awkward deal. I should've tried to slide or go through him or something."
Pedroia, who went 3-for-5, and Ryan Lavarnway were the only two Boston players who didn't leave at least one runner stranded in the game. Leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury stranded five while Shane Victorino and Will Middlebrooks each left four men on base.
Toronto starter Mark Buehrle emerged with the win for his seven innings of one-run ball, and despite allowing 10 hits and two walks over that span, the veteran southpaw avoided any critical damage and left 10 Red Sox stranded.
"We had 10 opportunities to score and we couldn't get that one big hit," Pedroia said. "That was basically it. Our pitching staff did a great job. We've got to be better with guys on, simple as that."
Jake Peavy, however, pointed the finger at himself for the defeat. The starter allowed just two hits through his first six innings but then was chased from the game after allowing three consecutive singles to Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie to start the seventh inning. While Peavy's final line was very strong (6+ IP, two earned runs, five hits, four strikeouts), he felt he should've shut the door during Toronto's lone big inning.
"[It was] just a bad pitch to Lawrie. I've got to execute better there with him, I know he's been hot," Peavy said. "I take full responsibility, it was the wrong pitch to throw and even at that, it wasn't executed as well. Just a tough one tonight. They made the most of that inning.
"I've got to make that one run stand up, sometimes that's got to be good enough. ... The score dictates everything. I felt like I had enough to make that one run stand."
One bright side for the Sox is that the Rays have also gone 4-6 over their past 10 games, so Boston's lead in the AL East remains at two games. The Red Sox begin a series against the Yankees at Fenway Park on Friday, then immediately fly to San Francisco for an interleague West Coast trip comprised of three games against the Giants and three against the red-hot Dodgers.
With so many important games coming up and the pennant race in full swing, Pedroia doesn't think he or his teammates will dwell on their shortcomings from this past road trip.
"We feel good about ourselves, we're in first place. This is a confident team. We'll forget about this one and get ready for tomorrow," Pedroia said.