TORONTO -- The anticipation had been building for months, but when John Farrell finally made his long-awaited return to Rogers Centre on Friday, the Blue Jays responded with one of their sloppiest games in recent memory.
Second baseman Emilio Bonifacio committed three errors, while Jose Reyes had four hits, but an untimely mistake on the basepaths that likely cost the Blue Jays a run.
It was a disappointing night for the 45,328 fans who showed up to boo Farrell at every opportunity, as the Blue Jays came out on the wrong end of an often ugly, but still exciting 6-4 ballgame.
"We haven't put it all together yet, but too many mistakes tonight," said manager John Gibbons, whose team dropped to 1-3 on the season. "Very rarely are you going to win those kinds of games."
Rogers Centre was almost at full capacity for a date that had been circled on the calendar ever since Farrell parted ways with the Blue Jays after two seasons last October. The boos rained down when the former Blue Jays skipper brought out the lineup card at the start of the game and again whenever he showed his face on the field.
But while the fans enjoyed the antics, they could not enjoy a series of miscues that took place on the field. Bonifacio was the biggest culprit, as he committed two consecutive errors in the fourth inning on a pair of ground balls which eventually led to an unearned run for right-hander Josh Johnson.
Bonifacio struck out four times and committed another error in the top of the ninth, only 24 hours after he made a game-saving play up the middle to help secure a victory over Cleveland.
"It was a tough defensive night," Gibbons said. "Boni had a tough night out there, but he won the game for us last night with his defense. He'll be fine.
"One thing about him, he shows up to play every day, so he'll get through that. We were very short in the 'pen. We still hung in there, big hit here or there we might get a different result. Too many mistakes, you probably shouldn't win the game."
Johnson was relatively effective during his Blue Jays debut despite the series of miscues behind him. He allowed one run in the second and an unearned run in the fourth, but mostly managed to pitch his way out of difficulty when needed.
The lone exception came in the fifth, when Boston first baseman Mike Napoli sent an opposite-field homer over the wall in right. Napoli's first RBIs of the season gave the Red Sox an early 4-1 lead.
Johnson surrendered nine hits while striking out six and walking just two. There was plenty of room for improvement, but he was able to escape most of the dangerous situations.
"Being able to battle, dig down and just find ways to get outs," Johnson said of the positives to take from the game. "It didn't matter what pitch I was going to throw, just make pretty good pitches when I needed to."
The Blue Jays did manage to slowly climb their way back into the game. DeRosa provided the early spark with a sacrifice fly in the second inning and a solo home run in the fifth -- his first homer since April 5, 2010.
The Blue Jays' rally continued that inning, as Maicer Izturis singled and scored on a double by Reyes. The threat likely could have continued, but Reyes attempted to turn the double into a triple and was easily thrown out at third base.
Reyes did atone for that miscue later in the game, when he crushed a 1-0 fastball from Junichi Tazawa and put it into the seats in right field. Reyes' first homer in a Toronto uniform tied the score at 4, but he was still upset about the baserunning blunder after the game.
"That was bad running from me," said Reyes, who went 4-for-5 with two RBIs. "I had the ball in front of me, and in that kind of situation, that can't happen again because that was huge right there."
The final glaring mistake of the night may have cost the Blue Jays the game. With runners on first and third with one out, Napoli hit a groundball to third base.
Izturis fielded the ball cleanly and appeared intent on throwing home to cut down Jonny Gomes, racing home from third. But he tripped and had to settle for the out at first, allowing Gomes to score the winning run.
That spoiled what was otherwise an energetic night at Rogers Centre. The attendance was approximately 2,000 less than Opening Night, but the crowd was much louder and into every pitch, especially as the game wore on.
Farrell's return was the cause, and Boston's manager even had a little fun with the fans as he tipped his cap while leaving the field to a series of loud boos prior to first pitch.
"This game is always going to be about the players," Farrell said. "Given the circumstances, the fans had fun with it. It was a great crowd. The energy they created, it was just an outstanding night. Great atmosphere to play this game in."