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Richard Griffin: Jays flop and drop another in stop at the Trop

Toronto Star logo Toronto Star 2018-06-13 Richard Griffin - Baseball Columnist

The Blue Jays walked into their personal house of pain at Tropicana Field for a three-game series on Monday. They arrived riding the crest of a four-game winning streak at home. But it seems no matter the quality of the Rays or the strength of the Jays, it is never easy in a building that remains a tribute to bad baseball architecture. The Jays lost a second straight game to the Rays on Tuesday, this time by a score of 4-1 dropping them seven games below .500.

It was the first time the Jays encountered the unorthodox pitching alignment of manager Kevin Cash and the Rays. The starter for Tuesday’s game was reliever Ryne Stanek, followed by five more pitchers, none for more than eight outs. Yet it was more than enough to handle the Jays’ fifth starter, Jaime Garcia.

Garcia has been alternating longer starts and shorter starts since April 28, failing to go at least five innings every second start since that date, over seven outings. In his start prior to facing the Rays, he had managed six innings, with a no-decision vs. the Orioles. Tuesday was due to be a short outing for Garcia.

In the third inning, Garcia, making his first career start at the Trop, allowed a two-run homer to dead-centre by catcher Wilson Ramos. Former Jays utility man Rob Refsnyder led off with a walk and was erased on a fielder’s choice.

The Jays responded with a run of their own in the fifth. Randal Grichuk and Aledmys Diaz led off with back-to-back singles. Grichuk has a current six-game hitting streak going 10-for-24 (.417).

When Carlos Gomez tried to throw the lead runner Grichuk out at third, Diaz trailed him into second with nobody out. It was their best opportunity of the game. Luke Maile struck out, but Devon Travis grounded out up the middle, scoring the first run for the Jays.

Garcia changed up on his personal long-short pattern on this night, making it through five innings but throwing far too many pitches and grinding too hard. The left-hander battled his way into the sixth, allowing four runs on four hits, with four walks and four strikeouts. He threw 101 pitches.

Tampa Bay catcher Wilson Ramos hit a two-run homer in the third inning. © Chris O'Meara Tampa Bay catcher Wilson Ramos hit a two-run homer in the third inning.

Manager John Gibbons ill-advisedly rolled the dice with Garcia sending him back out to start the sixth inning, even with Joe Biagini warmed and ready to go. The decision to stay with Garcia says more about lack of faith in Biagini than faith in Garcia. He allowed a walk to C.J. Cron and a double to Willie Adames before Biagini entered and allowed both inherited runners to score. Garcia, over his last six starts, has had just five total runs in support while he has been in the game.

The Jays have lost 10 of their last 14 games at the Trop.

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