Chris Sale had reason to believe Tuesday would be different.
The Red Sox were finally through with their marathon season-opening road trip and back home in front of their own fans, who, while battling near-freezing temperatures, were eager to celebrate last year's championship and point the Sox in the right direction.
The pre-game ceremony went as planned, which is to say flawlessly.
The rest? Don't ask.
Sale was handed a quick 2-0 lead after two innings, and just as quickly gave it back. Then it got worse: three more runs allowed in the fourth -- including the final one on a straight steal of home -- and a quick exit after just 76 pitches and only 12 outs.
"Today was on me,'' he said flatly after the Sox dropped their home opener, 7-5 to the Toronto Blue Jays. "We were supposed to win today's game. We score five runs on a day that I start, we've got to win that one. It's very easy to toss on top of the pile and say 'We're not playing good.' But this wasn't us not playing good; this was me sucking today.
"That's frustrating because today was the day we were going to turn it around. We're back home, the (pre-game) ceremony, in front of our fans, playing our first home game. Everyone knew what they had to do except for me and that's a frustrating spot to be in.''
But while Sale was eager to take on blame for what had happened, finding answers proved more challenging. When I asked Sale if he had ever felt this lost on a mound, his response was quick and more than a little disconcerting.