BOSTON — Over the three games the Toronto Blue Jays swept over the weekend, they not only pummelled the Boston Red Sox by a collective score of 31-19, they completely humiliated them.
A comeback from a seven-run deficit, a bullpen battle won in extra innings, and, for a final dagger, a 13-5 bludgeoning in Sunday’s series finale at minimum left the angst-filled locals totally demoralized, and perhaps did the same to John Farrell’s shell-shocked squad, too.
It was like watching a bully wail on the class runt, with no teachers around to intervene.
The Blue Jays matched a franchise record with an 11th straight win — accomplished three times previously, most recently in 2013 — and headed to Queens, where they’ll try to establish a new mark against Noah Syndergaard, part of the trade for R.A. Dickey in December 2012, and the New York Mets.
They’ve outscored their opponents 90-40 in the 11 wins.
“It’s a long lineup and we’re feeling good right now, we’re hot,” said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. “And when you’re hot, things go your way, it’s a good feeling in there and everybody is confident.
“It was a fun series.”
Well, for one team.
“We’re not in a good place right now as a team,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell, who added later, “I don’t see at-bats being given away, I don’t see us dogging it in any way. Things aren’t going our way, I know that.”
Far from it, and that’s why the Blue Jays will face a different challenge against the Mets and Syndergaard, the lightning-armed right-hander nicknamed Thor who was at one point projected to be a foundational pillar for the team that drafted him 38th overall in 2010.
He may stand a better chance of shutting down his former team than Eduardo Rodriguez, the lefty the Red Sox acquired from Baltimore last summer for reliever Andrew Miller and had become one of the few bright spots in Boston this season.
Rodriguez entered the game with a 0.44 ERA in three previous starts and survived his first trip through the Blue Jays order before a barrage of hits and bad luck ended his afternoon in the fifth.
Consecutive singles by Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion to open the fourth made it 1-0, and after Chris Colabello hit into a fielder’s choice — Encarnacion’s takeout slide well wide of the bag prevented a double play and brought Farrell out to argue in vain, Russell Martin’s bloop fell in to bring home another run.
After a Danny Valencia walk, things took a turn for the bizarre as Kevin Pillar hit a popper to shallow right that Dustin Pedroia lost in the sun — a la Ezequiel Carrera against the White Sox on May 27 — that went for a fielder’s choice and made it 3-0.
Doubling the Red Sox’s pain, Ryan Goins followed with a three-run homer to right for a 6-0 lead.
“Honestly, everybody is coming in here every day knowing we’re going to win,” said Goins. “Then you put that with having the best one through six, probably, in the whole league, it makes it easy being in 7-8-9. We’re just trying to have good at-bats and turn the lineup back over to the big boys.”
The next inning, Rodriguez issued a two-out walk to Encarnacion and Colabello followed with a blooper that dropped in the middle of four Red Sox fielders when right-fielder Alejandro De Aza unwisely called off shortstop Xander Bogaerts.
The Blue Jays made the mistake count, as Martin followed with a two-run double that left-fielder Hanley Ramirez handled poorly in the corner before Danny Valencia took reliever Steven Wright’s first pitch over the Green Monster and out of Fenway Park.
During the winning streak, the Blue Jays are batting 44-for-93, or .473, hitting with runners in scoring position.
“Guys are really trying to get the next guy up there, maybe shortening up a little bit, use the whole field, take what the pitcher gives us and when we’re on a roll like this, and one through nine is really doing their job, it takes the pressure off the middle of the order to have to have the big hit or big home run, and just try to drive in runs when possible,” said Pillar. “We’re on a streak right now where everything is going right for us. Today we had a couple of balls they lost in the sun end up being hits, that’s just how it goes sometimes. …
“We’re playing good baseball and we’re being rewarded for it.”
A shaky Marco Estrada — bailed out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the first when Donaldson snared Bogaerts’ line drive and doubled off Ramirez at second — gave back five runs in the bottom of the fifth on RBI singles by Pedroia (also lost in the sun by Bautista) and Ramirez plus a three-run homer by David Ortiz.
But as is the Blue Jays’ way of late, they kept adding, Goins ripping a two-run double for a career-high five RBIs in the seventh and Jose Reyes cashing him in with a double that ran his hitting streak to 11 games.
Ryan Tepera followed Estrada with two strong innings of relief, while Phil Coke made his Blue Jays debut with two innings to wrap things up.
With the 11-game win streak in 2013, a nine-gamer last year and this year’s 11-gamer, rolls like this aren’t necessarily new territory for the Blue Jays. At 34-30, they’re now just a game back of the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays for the AL East lead.
“After we won the 11 games, we didn’t play consistent baseball through the season,” said Reyes. “This year we need to make sure we play consistent through September. If we’re able to do that, we’re going to be there in the end.”
This streak has positioned them for that, and it’s up to them to see where it takes them.