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Aug 23, 2021 • 6 hours ago • 4 minute read • 9 Comments
Blue Jays players who have spent some time around the Rogers Centre in the past are fondly familiar with how fans respond to the booming of bats.
They know that a crowd of 14,000 can sound like 40,000 when the runs come in win-delivering bunches.
On a steamy August Sunday afternoon at the downtown ballpark, they got a taste of it when aging Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera made history with his 500th career homer.
As for the home team that established itself as a playoff contender early in the season with its offence … not so much as would-be roars have turned to groans.
Stone-cold bats have the Jays reeling, the latest blow a 5-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers in 11 innings, a game they literally threw away in the top of the ninth.
A hitting attack with the raw ability to cover up other frailties is making life far more trying than usual these days, leading to yet another dispiriting defeat against a team with an inferior record.
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“We always talk about hitting being contagious, but because nobody is swinging the bats right now, everyone is swinging harder,” a surely frustrated manager Charlie Montoyo said following the latest one that got away. “We didn’t expect this from a good offensive lineup. Everybody’s struggling right now.”
The fallout has been staggering, really, given the optimism following a 9-2 start to the Rogers Centre season on July 30th. Over the past five games, they’ve gone 1-4 to the Nationals and Tigers. According to Sportsnet Stats, since Aug. 13 the Jays are hitting an infinitesimal .088 with runners in scoring position.
If this defeat at the hands of the Tigers was more painful than the others in recent days, it was because the agony was extended through 11 innings, almost an extra hour of added angst brought on by a bumbling of one of the most routine plays by one of the Jays’ most reliable defenders.
The boxscore will show that the Tigers won it on back-to-back, run-scoring doubles in the 11th allowing the visitors to take two of three in the weekend series. The visuals showed another, that of sure-handed Marcus Semien easily fielding a two-out grounder in the ninth only to throw it in the dirt in front of first baseman Vlad Guerrero Jr. Instead of a game-ender, the resulting error leading to the equalizer.
The faces in the Jays dugout showed as much as the groans from the crowd of 14,685. And what has become sadly predictable of late did in fact materialize as the Jays’ record in extra-innings games plunged to 2-9.
Fighting to move beyond the fringes of the American League wild-card race, the Jays have now dropped seven of their past nine, many of those against perceived inferior opposition.
The team now has lost three consecutive series for the first time this season and just as the schedule approaches its most critical time.
How dry had it been in these parts?
The Jays offence has been stalled in neutral for a while now, managing three runs or fewer in seven of their past 10 games — and all three vs. The Tigers.
Time and time again the team has left players on the basepaths, too often in critical late-inning situations.
When Lourdes Gurriel Jr.’s clutch RBI scored a run in the eighth, it ended a run of 24 consecutive Jays hitters who had failed to bring home a runner in scoring position. Over the course of the game, the Jay left a staggering 14 runners on base over the three hours and 59 minutes to took to complete this one.
“Our offence is struggling right now, but you have to fight,” Montoyo said when asked about the mental toll the struggles have been taking on his team. “We’ve got a good group in there. We’re in every game still. We’ve just got to step back and relax and hopefully when somebody gets going it’s going to get going through the lineup.”Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers celebrates after hitting his 500th career home run in the sixth inning against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021 in Toronto. VAUGHN RIDLEY/GETTY IMAGES
The Jays took the lead in the third inning when a Teoscar Hernandez grounder found the five-hole on Tigers third baseman Jeimer Candelario and rolled into left field. Bo Bichette scored from third on the error … Tigers starter and former Jay Drew Hutchison went 4.1 innings and allowed four hits and only the unearned run … Trent Thornton came on in relief of Jays starter Steven Matz and allowed a double but survived the inning thanks to a pair of strikeouts … Add to the maddening trends for the Jays: Over the three games against the Tigers, Jays starters combined to allow just two runs over 21.0 innings (0.86 ERA) with one walk and 17 strikeouts. But with minimal run support, it mattered not.
Cabrera electrified the crowd of 14,685 with his homer that just cleared the wall in centre, earning him a spirited standing ovation from the visiting crowd.
While we’re sure the veteran would have preferred to have the historic blast take place at Tiger Stadium, the classy response from the Rogers Centre crowd also earned a curtain call — even though the blast equalled the score at 1-1.
Cabrera became the 28th player to reach the 500-homer club and the first two do so while wearing a Tigers uniform. He became just the sixth player born outside of the U.S. to reach the mark.
Alek Manoah rejoined the Jays on Sunday following a bereavement leave and is scheduled to start the first of four against the White Sox beginning on Monday night … The Jays will have their top for starters for the Chicago South Siders, runaway leaders of the AL Central. Jose Berrios gets the start on Tuesday followed by Robbie Ray and Hyun-Jin Ryu
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