The Jays had just given away another run on defence when Edwin Encarnacion stepped to the plate in the seventh inning, with Jose Bautista on first base. The Jays had a soul-searching players-only meeting on Sunday, promising to return to an early spring swagger. With a team searching for on-field leadership, Encarnacion crushed a Junichi Tazawa pitch deep to centre field, putting the Jays back in front, this time to stay, in a much-needed 9-7 win over the Red Sox at the Rogers Centre.

“We’ve lost a lot of close games that we shouldn’t have, that we feel like we should be winning.” Said Bautista, the Jays’ acknowledged clubhouse leader, s reflecting the philosophy of the meeting in the Bronx. “We’ve made some mistakes that we need to correct, but it’s in the past. We just need to control what happens from now on and that’s what we’re focused on. I think we have that attitide. Us, as players, we just have to concentrate every single day and hope for the best.”

The Jays were sailing along like a team that could finally compete toe-to-toe with anyone in the AL, holding onto a well-deserved two-run lead through six innings vs. Boston. All of a sudden, with one errant double-play feed, all the old familiar feelings of Jays defensive incompetence and impending defeat swept over them — leading to a three-run rally and a 7-6 lead, keyed by David Ortiz.

“If you look at what’s happened, we’ve struggled in all different areas,” Jays manager John Gibbons said prior to the game. “Defensively, probably the most glaring, especially early on. There’s times we haven’t hit. There’s times where we’ve had real good pitching. There’s times we’ve struggled. We’re where we should be right now, to be honest with you, kind of the way it’s gone. We like our team. If we’re good enough we’ll come out of it. If we’re not, we won’t. It’s basically that simple.”

Ironically, it was Mune Kawasaki, a defensive replacement, who made the throwing error moments after he entered in the seventh. Fielding a Jacoby Ellsbury grounder, Kawasaki threw to Maicer Izturis, a little high and a little wide but one that should have been caught for the out. Instead, the tying run was on first with nobody out. A walk and a three-run double and the Jays lead was gone.

The Jays are hoping that a key moment, Sunday morning at Yankee Stadium, has signaled a change of fortune. Prior to losing the series finale vs. the Yankees, the Jays’ 25th man, Mark DeRosa, had organized a players-only meeting in the visitors clubhouse hoping to turn the lethargy around. Instead they lost that game and headed home, swept out of New York.

DeRosa, in his first season with the Jays, had seen enough. On Saturday, the Jays had carved out a 3-0 lead against CC Sabathia. Starter J.A. Happ then strolled out for his half of the fourth, promptly walking Vernon Wells and Kevin Youkilis, then surrendering a homer to Travis Hafner to tie the score. It was as if at that point in the game, even in the dugout, another Jays’ loss seeemed inevitable. It was a pattern of fatalism and doom that had repeated itself through the first month of the Jays schedule.

“I think that was the whole reason I called the meeting,” DeRosa said prior to Tuesday’s game. “You can’t help but see the vibe of the whole dugout, the whole clubhouse, waiting for something bad to happen. That’s just human nature. We have too good a rotation, too good a lineup. Give it a month and see what happens. We’re in every game barring a few blowouts.”