BOSTON — Perhaps it’s all about expectations. Specifically, low expectations.
Nobody expects much of the Blue Jays this year, even the Jays’ front office, which cautioned often over the off-season that this would be a transition year as they tried to short-circuit the perpetual cycle of wasted hope.
So, when the Jays got off to a decent start and arrived here for one of their first important divisional series of the year, they were all puffed up, five games over .500 at 19-14, and looking good.
Now, after two terrible games in a row against the Red Sox, including Tuesday’s 6-1 Boston walkover, the Jays are looking a lot like the team everyone expected they’d be. Boston, which has played mediocre baseball this season, is now 5-0 against Toronto. The Jays, as a team are 4-7 against the East and three of those wins are against the disastrous Baltimore Orioles.
Tuesday night, Daisuke Matsuzaka diced up the Toronto lineup, allowing just three hits and one earned run without a walk in seven innings, by far his best start of the season.
“It was kind of a strange game,” manager Cito Gaston said. “We walked some guys and made some mistakes, too and that turns into a loss.”
Meanwhile Dana Eveland continued his pattern of inconsistency that has seen him have two scoreless outings out of seven, but also two games where he didn’t get through five innings. This was one of them.
The Sox touched him for five hits, four walks and six runs (five earned) before Gaston came for him with two on and nobody out in the fifth.
In his defence, the rest of the Jays did little to support Eveland, either at the plate or in the field where they made one error that showed up on the scoresheet and several others that didn’t.
“We usually play pretty good defence,” Gaston said. “It’s something that is going to happen during the course of 162 ball games. You just hope it doesn’t happen too often.
“For the last two nights we’ve had some miscues. No one tries or wants to make an error because when you’re on the field you feel about two feet tall. It’s just something we need to put behind us and deal with Mr. Knuckleball (Wednesday).”
That would be Tim Wakefield, who is making a spot start for the Red Sox on Wednesday, as long as anticipated rains stay away.
Eveland has a woeful history against the Red Sox that stretches back to his Oakland days and his luck doesn’t seem to have changed much since he joined the Blue Jays this year. The sellout crowd had hardly settled into their seats when the Red Sox scored their first two batters of the game after a walk, a double a groundout and a sacrifice fly.
“Obviously you’re not trying to think about it, but I know how I’ve done against this team in my career,” said Eveland, who came into the game with a career ERA of 18.24 against the Sox and actually lowered it to 16.53.
“This team is a good-hitting team, very patient. But you have to pitch ahead and that’s something I didn’t do very well today. I fell behind 1-0, 2-0 way too many times.”
The Sox made it 3-0 on Jason Varitek’s sixth homer over the wall in left in the second inning, then added one in the fourth after some comedic “who’s got it?” action between Alex Gonzalez, Fred Lewis and Vernon Wells allowed an easy pop-up to fall in shallow centre field.
After Eveland allowed the first two batters of the fifth inning to reach on a walk and a single, Shawn Camp was summoned from the pen and allowed both inherited runners to score before getting out of the inning. By that time it was 6-0 with Matsuzaka showing no signs of letting the Jays rally.
In the sixth inning a couple of doubles by John Buck and Lewis got Toronto on the board but there would be no late-inning excitement this night.