BOSTON -- A downcast Ricky Romero was left searching for answers after suffering through his worst start of the season on Wednesday afternoon.
Toronto's left-hander looked nothing like the ace most have known him to be as his season hit a low point against division-rival Boston. It was another frustrating turn in what has been a season-long battle for Romero to regain his status as one of the best pitchers the American League has to offer.
Romero matched a career high by allowing eight earned runs in a lopsided 10-4 loss to the Red Sox, which came at the conclusion of the Blue Jays' lengthy nine-game road trip.
"I just didn't do my job today," Romero said. "I'm embarrassed in myself more than anything. I felt like I let the team down. Definitely not the type of outing I was looking for.
"At the end of the day, it's one thing, and that's just not being consistent in the zone. That's something I was good at last year and early on in the year. Right now, it seems like when I'm missing, I'm missing bad. I'm not even coming close. I don't know, I don't know. It's just disappointing."
Despite the loss, Romero's overall record still sits at an impressive 8-2. That mark, though, masks what has been a relatively inconsistent 2012 campaign.
At this time last year, Romero's ERA sat at 2.74. It's currently 4.94, and he has surrendered at least four runs in each of his past seven starts. The main issue continues to be a lack of command, whether it's the high number of walks or location within the strike zone.
Romero is notoriously tough on himself and manager John Farrell believes that could be one of the contributing factors to his recent woes.
"No, but when the mind interrupts the movement of body parts and a consistent delivery, that's where you get inconsistent release points and inconsistent stuff overall," Farrell said when asked if there was a specific problem with Romero's mechanics.
"[Consistency and mechanics] are all inter-related, no doubt about it. We've seen many times, when he or other guys have been in a good place mentally, things flow more naturally and the consistency is there. Right now, that's been an ongoing process for him."
On Wednesday, Romero's struggles began almost immediately after the first pitch of the game. The southpaw allowed the first four batters he faced to reach base as he struggled to get both his fastball and secondary pitches over for strikes.
With one run already in, Adrian Gonzalez followed with a sharply hit ground ball that went under the glove of Edwin Encarnacion at first base. Instead of a potential double play, two runs came around to score and Romero's living nightmare had officially begun.
Boston's Mike Aviles followed with a two-run single past the outstretched glove of Brett Lawrie at third base. When the inning finally came to an end, Romero had surrendered six runs on two walks and four hits as the Red Sox sent 10 batters to the plate.
Romero then attempted to eat up some innings to save Toronto's overworked bullpen, but that also didn't work out as planned. He surrendered an RBI single to Gonzalez in the second and then allowed the first two batters he faced in the fourth to reach base.
When it was all said and done, Romero allowed nine runs -- eight earned -- on seven hits and six walks while striking out just one batter in three-plus innings of work. The eight earned runs matches a career high, which dates back to July 3, 2010, against the Yankees, while the six walks are just one off his career mark.
"Well, he wasn't the same pitcher today and we recognized that early and took a lot of pitches and hardly swung at a ball out of the strike zone the first three innings, first 75 pitches we saw," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. "We made him get the ball over. [Hitting coach] Dave Magadan is a really good coach. He has guys prepared, he also has guys make adjustments."
The lone bright spot for the Blue Jays came on a pair on monster home runs by Jose Bautista and Encarnacion. Bautista's came on a 3-1 pitch from left-hander Jon Lester to lead off the fourth inning. His 25th of the season cleared the seats on top of the Green Monster and dented the top of an SUV in a parking lot across Lansdowne Street.
Encarnacion followed with a two-run shot in the sixth inning. His shot also cleared the seats on top of the Green Monster in left-center field for No. 22 on the year. Bautista and Encarnacion have now combined to hit 47 homers this season, which is the most by any duo in the Major Leagues.
Toronto finished its three-city, nine-game road trip with a 4-5 mark and failed to pick up a series victory over Boston after winning the first of the three-game set on Monday night.
No one will take the loss harder than Romero, who despite what he says publicly, has to be feeling a little more pressure after the Blue Jays lost fellow starters Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison to the disabled list in the past two weeks.
For now, it's back to the drawing board to figure out where things have gone wrong.
"I'll get back to work tomorrow," Romero said. "I think I'm going to dissect myself a little more in the video room and see what's different this year from at the end of last year.
"I think I'm trusting my stuff. At times I've been wild, at times I've gotten hit. Today that was a combination of both, and that's a bad combo to have. It just wasn't my day."