BOSTON -- The Blue Jays didn't have a full bullpen to pull from during Saturday's game against the Red Sox.
After short starts from Josh Johnson and Chien-Ming Wang, the bullpen was forced to work 13 innings over the last two nights. As a result Aaron Loup, who pitched two innings Friday and 1 1/3 on Thursday, was unavailable. Manager John Gibbons said he would also try to avoid using Brett Cecil, who has also pitched the past two games.
The Blue Jays' bullpen is deep, though. They carry eight relievers on their roster, one more than many teams in the league.
Though used heavily over the past two games, the 'pen held up well, surrendering just two runs over the 13 innings (1.38 ERA).
The two runs they gave up happened to be the difference in Toronto's 7-5 loss Friday at Fenway Park, but Gibbons was not pointing any fingers.
"Like I said, they're not going to be perfect every time out there," he said.
The entire month of June has been one to remember for the Toronto relievers. Entering Saturday, they collectively have a 1.00 ERA this month, putting them on pace to beat the franchise-best mark in a month set by the 1992 Blue Jays, who had a 1.50 ERA in September.
Blue Jays struggle to solve Boston's patient approach
BOSTON -- During Toronto's 11-win streak, the Blue Jays' pitchers were in a groove.
As a staff they allowed just 2.45 runs per contest as they helped catapult Toronto back into the American League East race.
But the Red Sox have reversed the trend, hanging seven runs on the Blue Jays in each of the first two games of the four-game series at Fenway Park.
Starters Chien-Ming Wang and Josh Johnson were responsible for most of the damage, giving up 12 of the 14 runs and lasting a combined five innings.
What has caused the difficulties?
Manager John Gibbons said at least part of it is the Red Sox's approach at the plate. Known for being patient, Boston has seen more pitches this year than any other ballclub. The Sox rarely swing at the first pitch and often foul off multiple pitches to work deeper into counts. The approach has run up the pitch count on Toronto's starters in a hurry.
"A lot of these guys will give you strike one," Gibbons said. "They'll ambush you every now and then to try and keep you honest, but for the most part, a lot of those guys are going to give you strike one, so, hey, if they're going to give it to you ..."
Johnson experienced the approach firsthand Friday, when he was forced to throw 90 pitches in just 3 1/3 innings. He surrendered five runs in the process.
"It was one of those frustrating outings where I should have gotten deeper," he said. "They battled with me. They made me throw a lot of pitches, and it just ran up my pitch count.
"First inning was good, and then they made me throw a lot of pitches, fouling some pitches off, taking some close ones and then just hitting all the mistakes I made, so it was tough."
Toronto is not the only team to fall victim to that approach this season. Boston leads the Major Leagues in runs scored. To counteract the strategy, Gibbons said his staff can be more aggressive, especially early in the count.
"I mean, the way I think you approach that, you don't have to be so perfect," he said. "You don't have to live on the corners."
Michael Periatt is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.