TORONTO -- Yes, they’re still in the playoff race, after all.
The Toronto Blue Jays, that is.
The Red Sox? Well, this trip was supposed to be a referendum on whether they could improbably play their way back into contention. After their third straight loss to the Blue Jays, this one by an 8-0 count, that answer is starting to come into focus.
The Sox had fanned the comeback talk with five straight wins, the last a 14-1 rout of the Jays here Monday night. Since that game, the Sox have been outscored by the Jays 21-8, cementing their place in the division basement.
The Jays, meanwhile, had been in free fall, going 15-25 since June 6, when they were 14 games over .500 and in command of the AL East. But after losing nine of 11 games, the Jays have now won five of their past six, including three straight for the first time since a six-game winning streak at the start of June.
Thursday afternoon, they routed Rubby De La Rosa, who gave up nine hits and seven runs (six earned) and left with the bases loaded and no outs in the fifth.
Scoring runs had been an issue for the Jays, who are missing middle-of-the-order hitters Edwin Encarnacion, Brett Lawrie and Adam Lind. It ceased to be one against the Sox, as Juan Francisco singled, tripled and homered, driving in four runs and scoring two, keying Toronto’s 14-hit attack.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, managed just one hit, a bloop single by Shane Victorino, as another highly regarded Jays rookie, right-hander Marcus Stroman, took a no-hitter into the seventh. Stroman pitched seven scoreless innings for the third time in his past four starts.
The Sox had a season-high 18 hits Monday night. The one hit Thursday was a season low.
Ortiz hurt: With two out in the ninth and a 2-and-0 count at the plate, David Ortiz evidently injured himself on a checked swing and was removed from the game. He was replaced by Jonny Gomes, who flied out to end it.
Pedroia sits: Dustin Pedroia, who had appeared in 98 of the team’s first 100 games, sat out for what manager John Farrell called a scheduled day off. Replacing him at second was rookie Brock Holt, who became the first Sox player to start games at seven different positions in a season.