TORONTO -- The odds were already stacked against the Blue Jays on Saturday facing Chris Sale and the Red Sox, but with the calendar flipping to July, the team's fourth loss in five days still stings.Toronto's offense was dormant until Steve Pearce's home run in 9th inning of its 7-1 loss,
TORONTO -- The odds were already stacked against the Blue Jays on Saturday facing Chris Sale and the Red Sox, but with the calendar flipping to July, the team's fourth loss in five days still stings.
Toronto's offense was dormant until Steve Pearce's home run in 9th inning of its 7-1 loss, with every player in the lineup other than Russell Martin striking out at least once. Josh Donaldson led with way with four strikouts, and Ryan Goins had three. Despite falling to six games below .500, the Blue Jays are still confident.
"There's a lot of optimism," said Darwin Barney, who started at third with Donaldson at DH. "Guys still believe in the club and who we have here. Nobody is thinking that things aren't going to work out for us. I feel like, at this point, obviously the clock is ticking on the season, but we feel that the men in here have the ability to make a run."
After last year's Canada Day marathon, a 19-inning loss to Cleveland, the Blue Jays rolled off seven straight wins. Granted, last year's team entered July five games above .500 (43-38), but a 16-8 July was significant in their playoff push.
"There's a lot of parity right now," Barney said, "especially in the East. Teams are going to beat up on each other a little bit. The way we look at it is, put a good stretch together and anything can happen."
Saturday's loss put the Blue Jays four games behind in the American League Wild Card race (with six teams ahead of them) and 8 1/2 games out of first place in the AL East.
There has been a logjam of AL teams through most of June, and the Blue Jays are still clinging to that. The path won't get any easier, however, as Toronto will head to the Bronx for three games after finishing up with Boston, and then enter the All-Star break after a four-game set against the Astros, who are running away with top spot in the AL.
"Everybody is a professional; they get it," said manager John Gibbons after the loss. "You've got a game every day, basically, so you have to let things go. Of course, that was a tough one last night [an 11-inning loss to the Red Sox], but at the big league level, they're all tough. Everybody knows who they're facing, and you can't afford to give up too much."
Keegan Matheson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto.