By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
TORONTO -- Tim Wakefield has to be wondering if he'll ever get to 200 career victories -- and who can blame him?
Wakefield pitched five innings last night and held a three-run lead when he departed after 95 pitches, but the Boston bullpen imploded, allowing a run in the seventh and five more in the eighth, handing the Toronto Blue Jays an 11-10 win.
Daniel Bard was the main culprit. He filled the bases on a hit batsman, single and walk with no out before recording two stirkeouts. But Bard then issued back-to-back bases loaded walks and Matt Albers' second-half struggles continued when he came in and yielded a three-run double to Edwin Encarnacion.
Adrian Gonzalez led off the top of the ninth with a solo homer and Marco Scutaro singled home David Ortiz to pull the Sox to within a run, but but pinch-runner Mike Aviles was thrown out trying to steal second for the final out and the Sox fell a run short..
It was Wakefield's seventh straight unsuccessful try at becoming the 89th pitcher in modern history to reach 200 victories. His last win came July 24. He's 0-3 with four no-decisions.
Trailing 5-3 in the fourth, the Red Sox offense exploded for four runs with a run-scoring double from Josh Reddick and a three-run homer from Jacoby Ellsbury, his 25th homer of the year.
Ellsbury had a four hit night -- the homer, a double and two singles.
The Sox added another in the fifth on a mammoth homer from David Ortiz which landed in the second deck in right. Wakefield got staked to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first, but he had squandered that by the bottom of the second as the Jays nicked him for a run in the first and two more the following inning.
Sean McAdam can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam
Not long ago, the final homestand of the first half of the 2016 season looked like an opportunity for the Red Sox.
Now, however, it looks more like a survival test.
Are they contenders or pretenders?
Is this a month-long downturn or a preview of coming attractions?
The Red Sox still possess a winning record and are tied for one of the wild-card spots in the American League. The season isn't shot. Yet.
But it could be soon if the Red Sox don't execute a turnaround and thrust themselves back into the divisional race. At the precise moment the Red Sox are in freefall, the Baltimore Orioles are streaking, and doing what the Red Sox have failed to do: take advantage of some breaks in the schedule.
While the Red Sox dropped two of three to a Tampa Bay team which had lost 11 in a row -- four at the hands of the Orioles themselves, it should be noted -- the Orioles have steamrolled over lowly opponents to go 7-1 against a steady diet of nothing by the Rays and Padres.
That delivers some additional urgency to this upcoming homestand, which features three games each against the Los Angeles Angels, the Texas Rangers and the Rays again.
While Dave Dombrowski continues to hunt for pitching help, how the Red Sox play over the next nine games could either intensify his search or reduce it to unnecessary.
Should the Red Sox lose further ground while at home, it might result in Dombrowski refusing to mortgage any of his organization's future for a team that hasn't proven worthy of an upgrade.
Why sacrifice prospects in exchange for a starting pitcher or bullpen piece when the playoffs drift out of reach? And, yes, the Red Sox are going to need reinforcements to the rotation and the bullpen for next year either way, but if the Sox don't show signs of life soon, that effort can be put off until after the season.
Due to simple laws of supply and demand, the already exorbitant cost of pitching skyrockets before the trade deadline, since there are a handful of needy teams convinced that one additional arm could spell the difference between a trip to the World Series and missing the postseason altogether.
If a team isn't in need of immediate help, it's best to wait for November and December, when there's less of a sense of desperation to the whole exercise.
Beyond the matter of determining whether the Red Sox go all-in on 2016, there's the matter of job security for manager John Farrell.
Should the Sox continue to stumble, the All-Star break might give Dombrowski time and cause to evaluate whether it's time to make a change in the dugout.
If Dombrowski determines that the season can still be salvaged with a change of voice in the dugout, Farrell would be vulnerable. And if he decides that, regardless of playoff aspirations, he's seen enough in a half-season of observation that Farrell isn't his choice to lead the club going forward, the four-day break would be time to reflect, then act on that evaluation.
Farrell challenged his team in a postgame meeting Monday, exhorting them to play to their potential, to trust in their teammates and play hard.
If that push doesn't yield tangible results in the next 10 days, a dark uncertainty -- for himself and the team he manages -- lies ahead.
The All-Star break offers upper management and ownership a time to take stock in what they have. If they don't like what they see in the next week and a half, the consequences could be felt soon.
Jared Carrabis and Michael Felger debate David Price's struggles this season and whether or not John Farrell should be fired before the All-Star break.
Jared Carrabis joins Michael Felger on Town Fair Tire Sports Tonight to provide his take on David Price's latest outing and the apparent disconnect between Red Sox players and manager John Farrell.