TORONTO -- A 9-7 loss for the Red Sox in Toronto Tuesday night turned in the seventh inning when Edwin Encarnacion's second homer of the night erased a lead the Sox had briefly held in the top of the inning.
But a key might have come earlier, when Jarrod Saltalamacchia's throwing error helped key a three-run third for Toronto.
"Every run counts,'' said Saltalamacchia in retrospect. "That could have been a big part of the game.''
With the bases loaded and no out, the Sox put a pickoff play on at first, hoping to catch Jose Bautista staying too far from the bag.
But when Saltalamacchia hopped out of his crouch to throw to first baseman Mike Napoli, his hand or elbow grazed the mask of home plate umpire Clint Fagan, causing the throw to go inside the bag and into right field.
Two runs scored on the play.
"It looked like he got tied up with Clint behind the plate,'' said manager John Farrell. "He goes to cock his arm, his hand hits the mask. After conferring with the umpire, [Fagan] felt like [the contact] was after the ball was physically released. I don't know that could have happened. In that case, the ball should have been a dead ball. But he kept it as it was.''
Saltalamacchia didn't raise the issue with Fagan at the time. Farrell spoke to the umpire after the inning, but by then, there was nothing that could be done.
"I've done it in the past, but no one's ever said anything,'' said Saltalamacchia. "So I didn't make a stink about it because I didn't know the ruling on it. Now I know, once it hits his mask, it's got to be a dead ball. It definitely hit. Part of the game.'
Saltalamacchia was surprised that Fagan told Farrell that the contact had been made "on the follow-through -- which is kind of impossible.''
"It was a bang-bang play,'' said Farrell, "a quick reaction play on [Saltalamacchia's] part. Then after, he was kind of thinking about the direction of the ball. Salty's a little bit more accurate than that. After the inning, I went out to task what he had on the play and [Fagan] thought [the catcher's] elbow hit him after the play and he was recoiling.
"He didn't see it the way we saw it.''
Making matters worse, the Sox thought they had a good chance to nab Bautista had the throw been true.
"As aggressive as Bautista can be,'' said Farrell, "that's not an ill-advised play. Unfortunately, we couldn't execute.''