Blue Jays Slip in Wild Card Race as Pitch “Slips” from Stroman’s Hand

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WP:  Wei-Yin Chen  –  5.2IP, 9H, 2ER, 6K, 1BB

LP:  Marcus Stroman  –  6.0IP, 9H, 5ER, 3K, 2BB

S:  Zach Britton (35)  –  1.0IP, 1H, 0ER, 1BB

The Toronto Blue Jays fell 5-2 to the Baltimore Orioles on Monday Night at Camden Yards, as another finger has slipped from their grasp on AL Wild Card contention.  The Blue Jays had every opportunity to draw closer, but dragged their feet with runners in scoring position, going 3-16 while stranding 10 runners.

Toronto failed to capitalize on an early opportunity to extend their lead, with runners on 1st and 3rd and none out after jumping ahead 1-0 in the top of the 1st inning.  Wei-Yin Chen would strike out Danny Valencia and Dioner Navarro with high fastballs, however, before John Mayberry Jr. was robbed of a bloop single by a diving Nick Markakis.  In a September playoff push, a runner on 3rd base with no outs needs to touch home plate.

Baltimore would make the Blue Jays’ lead short-lived with two runs of their own in the bottom of the inning, then extend the gap to 3-1 in the 3rd with Nelson Cruz‘s 103rd RBI on the season.  Ryan Flaherty would add the big blow of the night with a 2-run home run to right field in the 5th, scoring Kelly Johnson to push the Orioles advantage to 5-1.

A Danny Valencia RBI would bring across Jose Reyes in the 5th, but the Blue Jays would get stuck in the mud from there on out.  Timely hitting was a struggle for the Toronto batters, as their 11 hits should have manufactured more than it did.

Starter Marcus Stroman was not at his best on Monday, either.  He was finding the plate too generously at points on a night where even some of the weaker hit balls were finding places to fall.  The dominant strikeout pitches were not working for the young star, and some may question if having his start pushed back knocked him out of his routine following three strong starts recently.

Stroman did manage to create a buzz in the 6th inning when he threw high and hard at Caleb Joseph, who ignited the Blue Jays bench with a last-second block of the plate earlier in the game that nearly injured the hand of Jose Reyes.  In the wake of the gruesome injury to Giancarlo Stanton, Stroman’s actions did not sit well with Orioles Manager Buck Showalter, who called the move “borderline professionally embarrassing”.  Don’t be surprised if a Blue Jays batter is pushed off the plate early on Tuesday night.

Aaron Loup and Dustin McGowan would team up to handle the final two frames without further damage for a Blue Jays team that can ill afford another performance like Monday’s.  Now 5.0 games out of the 2nd Wild Card spot, Toronto needs some help.  An upcoming series with the Seattle Mariners could help them to leapfrog the last team standing in their way, but catching the Kansas City Royals is looking to be a more difficult task by the day.

MVJ:  Jose Reyes.  Going 3-5 with both Blue Jays runs and his 27th stolen base of the season, Reyes created opportunities atop the Blue Jays lineup.  It proved to be too little, unfortunately, but Toronto will need this play to continue if they stand any chance down the stretch.

Tomorrow’s Scheduled Starters (7:05 ET, Camden Yards)

TOR:  Drew Hutchison (10-11, 4.36 ERA)

BAL:  Ubaldo Jimenez (4-9, 4.96 ERA)

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