BOSTON — For the Toronto Blue Jays, the team many picked to win the American League East before the season began, every victory is a small step.
When a team is far under .500 and buried in last place, the hope is that small steps lead to something better.
“We’ve been kind of waiting on that all year,” manager John Gibbons said Sunday after the Blue Jays hammered the staggering Red Sox 12-4, beating Boston for the second straight day. “We’ve had a couple of stretches, even (at) Tampa we had a couple of comeback games and then we lost the next two; one was kind of a heartbreaker … but yesterday and today, we’ve had a couple of games like that earlier on, and it really hasn’t taken off.
“But, yeah, we’re waiting on that. We know it’s going to happen. It’s definitely been a long wait, but I’ve got that good feeling out there now.”
The Jays (15-24) went 4-3 on a trip to Tampa Bay and Boston. They now go home to face the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants, trying to keep it going.
“We played good baseball, but we didn’t go 6-1 or we didn’t sweep two series,” said Jose Bautista, who hit his eighth and ninth homers of the season Sunday.
“We only played one game over .500 on the road trip, but it’s a great way to bounce back because we were playing pretty bad. It’s good just to be playing good baseball; the results are going to come just from the consistency of doing that.”
Edwin Encarnacion (No. 11), Emilio Bonifacio (No. 1, one of his three hits and three runs) and Brett Lawrie (No. 4) joined Bautista with homers to key Sunday’s blowout. Adam Lind homered in the ninth inning to win Saturday’s game.
Right-hander Chad Jenkins, making his 2012 major league debut in place of an injured Brandon Morrow, worked five-plus innings and got the win, later talking about how special it was to pitch at Fenway Park. Mike Napoli (No. 7, one of his three hits) hit a solo homer off him in the fourth.
“That was a great game, and it starts with the pitcher,” Bautista said. “He came up from Double-A and gave us a great start.”
His counterpart, Ryan Dempster, didn’t have a great start, as the Red Sox lost their third straight series, including both ends of a 2-5 homestand. They have lost eight of their last 10 to drop to 22-16. In first place in the East every day of the season until Friday, they are now two games out and in third place.
“As we much as we cashed in in the month of April, I know it’s a cliche, but things are evening out,” said Sox manager John Farrell, who managed the Jays the past two years.
“I think we’ve got a number of guys dealing with frustration right now; there’s no question about it. The key for us is maintaining our level of preparation and our work routine. Those are the two things that we can control. I know the attitude of this group; we’re going to continue to work, but we’re getting tested right now. There’s no question about it.”
The Toronto lineup that started against Dempster (2-4) was a combined 14-for-76 (.184) lifetime against the veteran right-hander. Encarnacion entered 1-for-14 against Dempster but went 2-for-3 off of him Sunday Dempster gave up six runs and three homers in five innings.
“We were off to such a good start, and we’ve hit a little rough patch,” Dempster said. “I know one thing for sure; the guys in here, they’re all professionals. They’ve been through the ups and downs. We’re going to continue to fight.”
For Dempster, a Canadian, it was his first loss to a Canadian team. He came in 5-0 against the Montreal Expos and 1-0 against Toronto.
Down 10-1, the Red Sox got a sacrifice fly in from Daniel Nava in the sixth and a solo homer from Pedro Ciriaco (No. 1) in a two-run eighth. The Jays answered with a two-run ninth, the first run driven in by Encarnacion’s third hit.
Toronto’s Munenori Kawasaki ended a seven-pitch at-bat with a two-run single in the second inning.
Bautista, moved to the second spot in the batting order Saturday, homered in the third and sixth innings, and the Jays scored in every inning from the second to the sixth.
NOTES: Boston’s Shane Victorino ran into the right field fence chasing Bonifacio’s homer and, after spending several minutes on the ground, stood up and stayed in the game. He left after six innings and was being checked at a hospital after the game with apparent rib injuries. … David Ortiz, in a 1-fof-20 slump mostly coinciding with Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy asking him if he is using PEDs and then writing a column about it, got the day off Sunday. … Morrow (upper back) threw in the bullpen before the game Sunday and is on target to start Wednesday night against the Giants. … Red Sox C David Ross, who took two foul tips to his catcher’s helmet Saturday, was placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list. C Ryan Lavarnway was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket. … Struggling Toronto RHP R.A. Dickey (2-5, 5.06 ERA) opens the two-game series against San Francisco when he faces Barry Zito on Tuesday night. … RHP John Lackey (1-3) opens Boston’s nine-game road trip when he faces 6-0 Matt Moore at Tampa Bay on Tuesday night. The Rays have won five straight to climb over .500. … The Sox lead the season series with the Jays, 5-4. … RHP Jose De La Torre made his big league debut for Boston, pitching the ninth and allowing two runs.
On Saturday, Adam Lind’s lead-off home run in the ninth inning gave the Blue Jays a 3-2 victory over the Red Sox.
With the game tied after eight innings, Lind led off the ninth by greeting Junichi Tazawa, who had just entered the game, with his second home run of the season to straightaway center field.
Neither starter was involved in the decision.
Mark Buehrle of Toronto went seven innings, giving up one run on five hits and two walks with five strikeouts.
Clay Buchholz of Boston pitched eight innings, giving up two runs on six hits and three walks with four strikeouts.
The Blue Jays got a run in the third when Colby Rasmus led off with a double, took second on Munenori Kawasaki’s groundout, and scored on Melky Cabrera’s two-out single.
Toronto added a run in the fourth when Adam Lind led off with single, went to second on Brett Lawrie’s groundout and scored on Rasmus’ single that made it 2-0.
After a two-out single by David Ortiz in the third inning, Buehrle retired the next 13 Red Sox batters before issuing a lead-off walk to David Ross in the eighth, ending Buehrle’s outing.
Darren Oliver entered and allowed a run-scoring triple to Jacoby Ellsbury. With one out, shortstop Kawasaki’s error on Dustin Pedroia’s grounder allowed Ellsbury to score, tying the game.
Oliver (2-1) earned the victory and Casey Janssen earned his 10th save with a scoreless ninth.
Tazawa took the loss, falling to 2-2.