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Depleted Blue Jays can't escape mistakes

MLB.com

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' 7-1 loss to the Red Sox on Wednesday was a close, competitive and well-pitched game. Until it wasn't. Such is the way of the 2017 season.

Toronto's bullpen and defensive miscues handed Boston a four-run eighth inning to put the game out of reach, leading to the Blue Jays' 10th loss in their last 12 games.

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TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' 7-1 loss to the Red Sox on Wednesday was a close, competitive and well-pitched game. Until it wasn't. Such is the way of the 2017 season.

Toronto's bullpen and defensive miscues handed Boston a four-run eighth inning to put the game out of reach, leading to the Blue Jays' 10th loss in their last 12 games.

View Full Game Coverage

"Obviously it's been real tough, but we haven't played good enough baseball, really," manager John Gibbons said. "So, deal with it. What else are you going to do?"

Video: BOS@TOR: Gibbons on 7-1 loss, getting swept

That eighth inning featured a bizarre double steal from the Red Sox, who went 11-for-11 in stolen base attempts over the three-game sweep. With two on and Rafael Devers breaking for second base, Xander Bogaerts hesitated in his break to third. A wide throw from catcher Raffy Lopez allowed Devers to reach safely, however, and another poor throw from second baseman Rob Refsnyder to third baseman Darwin Barney allowed Bogaerts to scramble over in time despite being caught in no-man's land.

"I thought he made the right call," Gibbons said of Lopez's decision to throw to second instead of third. "What happened is the guy at second took off and then stopped, and the guy at first kept going. So he gets the ball there, maybe get a tag and if not, you get the guy at third base. He's stopping anyway. Otherwise you throw to third and he'll get the other guy in a rundown. Either way, you know?"

It was a broken play made up of infielders who aren't everyday starters. Barney, Refsnyder and Ryan Goins -- who started at shortstop -- have been elevated to these roles after injuries to Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis. First baseman Steve Pearce took over the position because Justin Smoak is dealing with right calf tightness and Lopez is one of six catchers used by the Blue Jays this season.

"There were some situations where we could maybe exploit an opportunity," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "Our guys did a great job of being attentive to it."

These mistakes didn't come on very difficult plays, but when you consider that the Blue Jays have already tied a franchise record by using 55 different players this season -- a number they'll surely top as early as Friday when rosters expand -- it begins to line up with the disappointing narrative of their season.

Missed opportunities have haunted Toronto through the first five months, which hurts even more given the cluttered landscape of the American League Wild Card race. While teams hovering around .500 are firmly in the conversation right now, the Blue Jays are 61-72 and out of the mix. The tight race also means that Toronto's September schedule is busy with contenders, so it doesn't get much easier beyond Boston. And it's unlikely that the race is this weak again in 2018.

"They're in first place for a reason right now and they were tough this series," said J.A. Happ, who threw six innings of one-run ball. "We're going to go into Baltimore and face a team that's hot right now as well, so hoping to bounce back."

Keegan Matheson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto.

Toronto Blue Jays