BOSTON — The free fall has taken the Boston Red Sox to depths that has them in danger of finishing in last place for the first time in 20 years.
Daisuke Matsuzaka was tagged for five runs in 1 1-3 innings and the Toronto Blue Jays jumped over the Red Sox in the AL East with a 9-2 win on Saturday night in a game twice delayed by rain for a total of 2 hours, 3 minutes.
Like his teammates, this season has been disappointing for Matsuzaka, who began the year late after ulnar collateral surgery last season.
“Honestly I don’t know if I’ll wear this Red Sox uniform next year,” he said. “It’s been an honor to wear this Red Sox uniform. I don’t know what next year will bring, but it hasn’t been (hard).”
It was his second straight rough start. He gave six runs in 3 2-3 innings in a loss at Oakland on Sept. 2.
“I’m real disappointed that I haven’t been able to be there for the team the past two games,” he said. “I’m real frustrated that I haven’t been consistent.”
Matsuzaka (1-5) took the loss, lasting just four outs and giving up five runs and five hits. He is in the final year of a six-year, $52 million contract.
“Even with the expanded rosters, to keep asking what you’re asking out of the bullpen it seems like it’s every night, it’s tiring,” Boston manager Bobby Valentine said. “Guys are tired of playing from behind, I’ll guarantee that. The bullpen is tired of just eating up innings. It’s tough. It’s tough.”
Anthony Gose hit his first major league homer and drove in five runs for Toronto.
Yunel Escobar added a solo homer to spark a five-run second inning for Toronto, which has won five straight in Fenway Park — its longest streak since winning all six meetings in 1989.
It was the first time since July 29 that the Blue Jays haven’t been in last place after they won their third straight to climb over the Red Sox.
Scott Podsednik and Ciriaco had RBI singles for Boston, which lost for the 10th time in 11 games.
With Toronto leading 5-2 and two outs in the fifth — one away from an official game — heavy rain started when Jacoby Ellsbury was at-bat. Aaron Laffey threw two balls before crew chief Jeff Nelson called for the tarp for the second time.
After a 65-minute delay, Laffey became ineligible for the victory when he was replaced by Brad Lincoln, who got Ellsbury to ground out. Under baseball rules, the starter must go five innings to get a win.
Lincoln (1-0) worked 2 1-3 scoreless innings for the victory, his first with the Blue Jays since being acquired from Pittsburgh in July.
The Blue Jays chased Matsuzaka with the five-run fifth. Escobar belted the first pitch of the inning into the first row of seats above the Green Monster. Adeiny Hechavarria had an RBI double, Gose followed with a two-run single before Rajai Davis added a sacrifice fly. Colby Rasmus then singled and Valentine came out to a loud boos to lift the Japanese right-hander. Both walked off nearly together, with Valentine slightly behind, to a spattering of more boos.
At one point in ninth, there were brief chants of “Fire Bobby.”
Alfredo Aceves entered after Matsuzaka and Rasmus helped end the inning by forgetting how many outs and running on a fly to center with only one out, easily getting doubled up trying to get back.
Laffey gave up two runs and four hits in 4 2-3 innings.
As bad as Matsuzaka was, it wasn’t his shortest start of the season. On July 2, he lasted just one inning in Oakland, allowing five runs, and the next day he was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained neck muscle.
Boston didn’t have a hit until Ellsbury opened the fourth with a single, a liner over the head of shortstop Escobar.
One pitch later, the umpires called for the tarp. A few minutes after the grounds crew had it in place, the rain stopped, they took it off and got the infield ready before they had to put it on again.
This time, for longer. The delay was 58 minutes.
NOTES: Boston RHP John Lackey, recovering the entire season from ulnar collateral surgery in November, threw to live hitters for the first time, tossing early batting practice to Daniel Nava and Ivan De Jesus. … RF Gose made a sliding grab on Mike Aviles’ foul ball near the wall to end the second. … Toronto C J.P. Arencibia fired the ball into left field on Mauro Gomez’s strikeout when he attempted to start the process of throwing it around the infield. … The crowd — that is, what was left in the second rain delay — cheered when the final out of the Orioles-Yankees was shown on the center-field scoreboard. Then they played John Denver’s ‘Thank God I’m a Country Boy’ — a seventh-inning stretch tradition at Camden Yards in Baltimore — over the PA.