Sports

Blue Jays fizzle in extra-innings loss to Red Sox

By Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun

Manager John Gibbons pulls Blue Jays starting pitcher Marco Estrada out of the game during the fifth inning against the Red Sox in Toronto on Friday, June 30, 2017. (Fred Thornhill/The Canadian Press)

Manager John Gibbons pulls Blue Jays starting pitcher Marco Estrada out of the game during the fifth inning against the Red Sox in Toronto on Friday, June 30, 2017. (Fred Thornhill/The Canadian Press)

TORONTO - 

What started as a Smoak show on Friday night fizzled into another loss for the Blue Jays.

On the eve of Canada Day and the celebrations of the country’s 150th birthday, the Jays fell 7-4 to the Boston Red Sox in extra innings at the Rogers Centre.

The Jays are 37-42 and fell 7 1/2 games behind the Red Sox, who have a record of 45-35 and lead the American League East.

The Red Sox scored the go-ahead run in the 11th inning off Aaron Loup (2-2) when Xander Bogaerts singled to right, scoring Hanley Ramirez. The latter had led off with a double and advanced to third on a single by Jackie Bradley Jr.

That was it for Loup, and in came Glenn Sparkman to make his major-league debut with one out. With Sparkman facing his first batter, Deven Marrero, the Red Sox pulled a double steal to put runners at second and third. Marrero then singled to right, scoring Bradley and Bogaerts to give the Sox a three-run lead.

In their half of the 11th, the Jays couldn't get anything off Sox closer Craig Kimbrel, who set Toronto down in order to seal the victory and earn his 23rd save. Blaine Boyer (1-1) got the win for Boston.

In the quiet clubhouse afterward, Jays starter Marco Estrada put the blame squarely on his own shoulders.

Before a crowd of 41,357 to kick off the long weekend, Estrada went 4 1/3 innings, putting together an unusual pitching line. Estrada walked a career-high seven — his previous high was five — but allowed just two hits and struck out three.

“I really didn't have a good feel for anything so it’s no one’s fault but mine,” Estrada said. “I was wild, plain and simple.

“At a certain point I really didn’t have any clue where the ball was going. I was lost with every pitch out there and I don’t understand why it happened. I have been struggling but I have had feel for the ball and today I just did not have any feel for it.

“It sucked. I’m just mad at myself for not going deep into this game. We had it. We had a great chance to win. The boys put up some runs early and I kind of let it get away.”

Estrada has gone six starts since his most recent victory, against Texas on May 27. He has four losses and two no-decisions in that span, and he has not pitched past the fifth inning in four of his past six starts.

The seven walks were the most allowed by a Jays starter since Aaron Sanchez walked seven against Baltimore on April 22, 2015.

“I have never seen anything like that, guarantee it has never happened to him,” Jays manager John Gibbons said. “I just don’t think he had a really good feel. Something was out of whack. He did not give up many hits, but all the walks, that is uncharacteristic of him. You wash it off, move on.”

Estrada got out of a jam when he walked the first three batters of the third. With the bases loaded and none out, Estrada got Andrew Benintendi to foul out, induced Dustin Pedroia to pop out to Ryan Goins and then fanned Mitch Moreland.

Justin Smoak, a strong candidate to start for the American League in the all-star game in Miami on July 11, set a major-league record when he hit the 1,070th home run in the majors in June, setting a mark for any month.

The three-run homer, Smoak’s 22nd of the season, came off Red Sox starter Doug Fister with one out in the bottom of the the first. Scoring on Smoak’s shot were Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson.

The Jays tied the game 4-4 when Troy Tulowitzki homered off reliever Heath Hembree to lead off the sixth.

The Red Sox got two in the fifth and two more in the sixth to go ahead 4-3.

Estrada didn’t allow a hit through four, though he had walked six by the time Boston batted in the fifth.

Estrada was done after a Pedroia double scored Marrero and Mookie Betts.

The Red Sox sent eight batters to the plate in the sixth and came out of it with a one-run lead.

Bradley led off with a double to left off Danny Barnes. The hit was made possible after Ezequiel Carrera, his defensive issues already a sore spot, lost an easily catchable ball in the lights, as it dropped in front of him.

Christian Vazquez then walked. Bradley scored on a Marrero single, and Vazquez came home when Benintendi doubled off Jeff Beliveau.

tkoshan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/koshtorontosun