TORONTO - The bitter aftertaste from the recently completed road trip didn’t disappear with the first bite of home cooking.
After going a brual 2-8 on the road, the Toronto Blue Jays opened up a 10-game homestand right where they left off — with a loss.
While on the road, thanks to injuries to four of their top run producers in Jose Bautista, Adam Lind, J.P. Arencibia and Brett Lawrie, plus the trade deadline deal that sent Travis Snider packing, the Jays had been scratching and clawing for runs.
With the same cast of characters in their lineup and facing the first-place New York Yankees, the predictable became the reality and the Jays went down in an ugly 10-4 defeat.
That’s four losses in a row and counting. In losing 10 of their past 12, the Jays have scored three runs or less in eight of those defeats.
Along the way Friday, the Jays wasted a solid seven-inning outing from Ricky Romero and had centre fielder Colby Rasmus leave the game in the ninth due to right groin tightness, an issue that kept him out of three games on the road trip.
It all fell apart for the Jays in the final two innings. First, second baseman Kelly Johnson and later left fielder Rajai Davis lost two-out balls in the lights that resulted in an additional four runs being scored. Adding insult to injury, the ball that Johnson lost in the eighth bounced off his head and caromed into centre field.
The biggest beneficiary for the Yankees was Ichuro Suzuki who ended up with five RBI.
Whether it's bad karma or bad vibes, the Jays have the look of a team that is still searching for the bottom.
“I don’t know about bad vibes,” Jays manager John Farrell said before launching into a rehash of their first misstep that came in the second when catcher Jeff Mathis fired a ball over the head of third baseman Omar Vizquel and into left field, allowing a run to score. “The other two balls were lost in the lights. I wouldn’t say it’s because of bad vibes. We’re grinding, we’re battling. There’s no doubt abut it.”
On the west coast, the Jays lost Rasmus for three games with groin tightness and now he gets felled by the same problem.
“He’s re-aggravated that groin and he’s day-to-day,” Farrell said of his centre fielder. “I don’t think this is a DL (disabled list) situation but it’s questionable whether he’s going to be able to go tomorrow.”
With Rasmus probably not available, the Jays made a roster move following the game as they optioned right-hander David Carpenter back to triple-A Las Vegas and called up infielder/outfielder Mike McCoy.
Carpenter spent one day with the Jays. He came on in the ninth and in two-thirds of an inning allowed four runs on three hits, a walk and a hit batter. Two of the runs scored when a Suzuki fly to left was lost in the lights by Davis.
The lone plus for the Jays was the performance turned in by Romero, who allowed four hits and just two earned runs over seven innings.
“I felt great, I felt like I finished strong,” said Romero, who has now lost eight straight decisions to fall to 8-9. “I got back to that delivery I’ve kind of been looking for. I felt like I found it towards the end.”
Mentally the Jays may simply be run down or exhausted from being so overmatched with so many big guns sitting on the disabled list.
“It sucks that we lost,” Romero said. “It’s not easy what we’re going through now and I hate losing and I know that the guys in the clubhouse do too.
“When it rains it pours and I feel like that’s what’s going on with us now.”
The recruits from the minor leagues have not responded in Mike Trout fashion while some of the veteran players have been mired in slumps — Mathis was 3-for-29 on the road trip and went 0-for-3 in Friday’s game
“In combination with running up against the two top pitching staffs in the American League, we were shut down,” Farrell said of the hitting woes on the road. “We’ve got some guys with some inexperience who are finding their way (code for struggling). So it’s been a challenge to bunch some hits together and score some runs. We’ve been challenged.”
It’s a challenge, a battle they aren’t winning.
“The towel has not been thrown in by any stretch of the imagination,” Farrell maintained before the game.
However, when you can’t come up with the big hit, can’t catch the ball, it sure looks like it.