TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' performance this month has been tough enough, but the seemingly endless streak of heartbreaking losses has become even more difficult for those inside the clubhouse to take.
Toronto played extra innings for a fourth consecutive game on Tuesday night, and once again, it came out on the losing end. Each result has been different, but the atmosphere has been relatively the same with a constant theme of disappointment.
The frustrations continued to mount as the offence once again couldn't come up with the timely hit and the pitching staff fell apart in the 11th inning after Casey Janssen and Sergio Santos combined to allow seven runs in the 11-7 loss to the Red Sox at Rogers Centre.
"We've lost some tough ones, games we could have won every one of them, but we haven't done it," said manager John Gibbons, whose team has lost all but one of those extra-innings games. "If you're going to get to the top, you have to win those games, because that's what elite teams do."
This marks the first time since Sept. 16-20, 1991, that the Blue Jays have participated in four consecutive extra-innings games. The odd streak dates back even a little further than that as all but one of Toronto's last seven home games have gone to extras.
The Blue Jays are 4-6 in those games this season, but it's the recent three losses that have stung the most. The three loom large in an overall disappointing month that has seen the club go 6-16 (.273), which is the lowest winning percentage for August in franchise history.
A lot of the issues can be tied to an offence that has struggled to score runs. Toronto managed to score more than three on Tuesday for the just the ninth time in August, but in reality, there should have been a lot more offence early on. Through the first eight innings, the Blue Jays went 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position, which would make almost any game impossible to win.
"I don't necessarily think the approach is bad, we just didn't get the results," Gibbons said. "I still believe normally, when most pitchers get in jams, they go soft with guys in scoring position. Not all of them, but a lot of them, that's kind of what they do.
"If you're in hook mode, they're going to get you, and we rolled over some balls. If you shoot some balls the other way, it might get a different result, but there are people out in the baseball world that don't think RBIs are important. Well [1-for-17 with runners in scoring positions] ... those are RBIs."
The lack of early runs meant the Blue Jays entered the top of the 11th inning locked into a 4-4 tie. Janssen pitched a clean 10th, but he was forced to come back for a second inning because Santos the only fresh reliever still available in the bullpen.
The Blue Jays were hoping to steal an additional three outs, but the plan didn't work out as Janssen began the 11th by allowing a leadoff single to Mookie Betts. Boston then loaded the bases on a pair of back-to-back sacrifice bunts that involved a pair of costly defensive miscues on the Blue Jays' end.
The first came when Janssen fielded a bunt by Christian Vazquez and tried to get the lead runner at second base. Janssen's throw was late, and while the original call by umpire Eric Cooper was out, it was later overturned via expanded replay. Janssen followed that up by committing an error on the very next play as a slow grounder got away from him.
With the bases loaded and nobody out, Dustin Pedroia delivered the decisive blow with a two-run single up the middle. That chased Janssen from the game, but it did little to stop Boston's momentum. Santos entered and Mike Napoli became the 17th player in the history of Rogers Centre to homer into the fifth deck, and Allen Craig followed one batter later with a two-run shot.
Boston's inning didn't come to an end until infielder Steve Tolleson took the mound and recorded the final two outs. It was that kind of night for the Blue Jays.
"I felt great in the first inning," said Janssen, who has a 7.98 ERA since the All-Star break. "I felt like I got a lot of life back on my ball. I started pounding the zone, I was really happy with the first one. The second one, the guy hit a base hit to right field and then the two bunts. You know what? It was a lot worse than it should have been and just get ready to go tomorrow."