Jays fall back to .500

Toronto Blue Jays base runner Colby Rasmus is tagged out at home plate by Los Angeles Angels of...

Toronto Blue Jays base runner Colby Rasmus is tagged out at home plate by Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim catcher Bobby Wilson (R) during the seventh inning of their MLB American League baseball game in Toronto June 28, 2012. (REUTERS)

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:20 PM ET

TORONTO - Another start, another mugging.

That’s the way it goes for the Blue Jays these days.

Even a three-run bomb from Jose Bautista in the fifth that nudged the Jays temporarily in front wasn’t enough to lift the team Thursday night as another Jays starter took one squarely on the chin.

Brett Cecil gave up three bombs of his own that accounted for five of his eight runs allowed as the high flying Angels from Los Angeles opened the series with a 9-7 victory. It was the third consecutive loss for the Jays, who dropped to 38-38 on the season.

The most disappointing aspect of Cecil’s night was his inability to provide shut-down innings after the Jays took leads in both the third and fifth.

Instead, on both occasions the Angels roared back with three-run innings in the fourth and sixth.

“We go out and get runs and I go out and give up a couple of hits and couple of runs,” Cecil said. “I feel bad personally because the guys go out there and bust their butt and get some runs for me and I’ve got to go out and have a shutdown inning. That’s one thing I couldn’t give, that shutdown inning, especially after Jose hits that three-run bomb to make it 6-5. That’s when I really got to come in and shut the door and get them back in quick. That’s probably what I feel worst about.”

It’s a problem that has surfaced on numerous occasions over their last 10 games, six of them ending in losses.

“The most important inning in any game I think is the inning following to maintain the momentum,” Jays manager John Farrell said. “We talk about, we continue to stress the importance of that following inning and yet in half of those, we’ve given up runs.

“That can be a little frustrating at times. I think it’s very clear in every pitcher’s mind that the importance of that following inning is a key one. That wasn’t the case tonight.”

Cecil did all he could to try and put the brakes on the runaway train that is the Halos but he wasn’t up to the task.

That’s the sad reality the Jays are facing these days what with all the injuries that have piled up on their starting rotation.

“At some point we’ve got to find ways to get deeper into games,” Farrell said of Cecil's exit after 5 1/3 innings. “We’re putting an awful lot of pressure on our bullpen right now. Still, it’s not only encouraging, it’s impressive the way our guys continue to swing the bats night in and night out.”

Unfortunately for the Jays and Cecil, though, the Angels are playing at another level and have an added gear that the boys in blue simply can’t match.

The win for the Halos was their fourth consecutive triumph and allowed them to move to 17-7 for the month.

The Jays gave it a gallant try in the ninth as Jeff Mathis and Brett Lawrie opened with singles.

It stopped there as Colby Rasmus struck out and after Bautista walked to load them up, Edwin Encarnacion ended it by grounding into a game-ending double play.

The Angels the Jays will meet over their four-game series does not resemble the team they encountered the first week of May when the two teams split a four-game series in Anaheim.

“They’re playing as everyone anticipated them playing with the acquisitions of the off-season,” Farrell observed prior to the game. “They’re swinging the bats much better than the early part of the year. Their starting pitching has been very consistent. The addition of (Ernesto) Frieri to close out games and put (Jordan) Walden in the seventh and (Scott) Downs in the eighth ... they’re playing very well. They’re a very talented team and it’s a very complete team — power, speed, starting pitching, relieving. They’re clicking right now.”

Yes, they are clicking indeed.

So, too, is Bautista, whose 26th homer of the season on a full count in the fifth momentarily nudged the Jays in front 6-5. It was his 14th dinger of the month.

The Angels, though, can do no wrong these days and struck back for three off Cecil in the sixth to move into an 8-6 lead, one they would not relinquish.

Through the month of June the Jays offence has been paced by the terrific numbers posted by the top four hitters in their lineup — Lawrie, Rasmus, Bautista and Encarnacion.

In Thursday’s game the Jays received some production from other sources which even in the loss is a positive development.

Mathis supplied the biggest bang when in the third he connected for his fourth homer of the season.

It was a big night for Mathis, who banged out two singles, doubled and picked off a runner at second. It was the second four-hit game of his career.


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