Welcome to the most uncomfortable loss of the Red Sox' season

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TORONTO - This was the blueprint of bad for the Red Sox.

Sure, Alex Cora's team has had plenty of late-inning gut-punches this season, particularly before their early May turnaround. But nothing stung quite so perfectly like this loss to the Blue Jays Tuesday night at Rogers Centre.

Fight back in a manner non-existent earlier in the season - this time via a game-tying, two-run homer in the seventh and Christian Vazquez's go-ahead RBI single an inning later.

And then find three relievers - Ryan Brasier, John Schreiber and Tyler Danish - who can hold off the Jays long enough to enter the ninth with a one-run lead.

But then came the rug yank from right underneath the Red Sox' feet. The best-case scenario became the exact nightmare it appeared the Sox were going to be able to avoid.

Heading into the ninth with no closer thanks to Tanner Houck's vaccination status, and not too long after, a bunch of questions about having no closer due thanks to Tanner Houck's vaccination status.

"I mean, we go with the 26 that are here. And we tried to get 27 outs and we didn’t do it," said Cora when asked his thoughts postgame about being short-handed.

"We’re down a guy, but that means everyone else has to step up. Like I said, that opportunity lied on me and I didn’t come through," said Danish, who surrendered back-to-back baserunners after a clean eighth inning.

"I can’t comment on that. I don’t control that part," said Hansel Robles, who replaced Danish and immediately surrendered the game-tying and game-winning hits, the walk-off coming off the bat of Vlad Guerrero Jr.

"I mean, he's a stud pitcher, but we knew what we were going into coming here. This is what it is," added Red Sox starter Michael Wacha after giving up four runs over five innings.

While Monday's loss was being viewed as somewhat of an aberration considering the Red Sox' seemingly unstoppable June momentum, this one left a mark.

It was thought they had figured things out, both in regards to how to utilize the relievers on the roster, and in terms of leaving Canada without the Houck storyline resurfacing.

But what they were left with is a reminder that the bullpen is still short a high-leverage righty arm (this time necessitating Cora rolling the dice with Danish for a second inning), a clearly manager clearly frustrated his team was able to navigate around an imperfect situation, and more lingering doubts about exactly how the Red Sox matchup with the iron of the American League East.

These Red Sox are now 2-7 against the Blue Jays and 7-16 vs. clubs from the American League East.

All those steps forward leading into the trip to Toronto have suddenly been countered with two significant steps back.