TORONTO -- On a day when the Blue Jays paid tribute to the offensive juggernaut that led to the 1993 World Series title, Toronto's bats were conspicuously absent.With former stars such as Roberto Alomar, Joe Carter, John Olerud, Tony Fernandez and many others looking on, the Blue Jays' lineup went
TORONTO -- On a day when the Blue Jays paid tribute to the offensive juggernaut that led to the 1993 World Series title, Toronto's bats were conspicuously absent.
With former stars such as Roberto Alomar, Joe Carter, John Olerud, Tony Fernandez and many others looking on, the Blue Jays' lineup went quietly into the night for the second consecutive day. Toronto was limited to five hits, and the club went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position en route to a 3-1 loss to the Rays on Saturday.
The Blue Jays were honoring the 25th anniversary of the back-to-back World Series runs, providing a walk down memory lane for many of the fans in attendance. The game itself was less of a celebration, as the Blue Jays left five men on base and lost for the fifth time over the previous six games.
"They threw some pretty good arms at us and shut us down for the most part," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, whose team moved to a season-high 12 games below .500 with the loss.
The Rays went with their "opener" instead of a "starter" approach, as the club began the game by using Ryne Stanek for 1 2/3 innings before getting through the rest of the afternoon with five relievers. Toronto has combined for just eight hits and one run through the first two games of this series against divisional-rival Tampa Bay.
"They have a lot of power arms in their bullpen," Russell Martin said after Toronto was held to one run or less in back-to-back games for the third time this season. "Not many guys are throwing under 95 mph over there, but if you can choose between facing an ace or facing someone's bullpen, you take the bullpen every day of the week. But they were tough today, they made pitches, they made some plays on defense. We just couldn't get that big hit today."
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One of the only bright spots on offense for the Blue Jays came in the bottom of the fifth inning when shortstop Aledmys Diaz hit a solo homer -- his 15th -- to left field. Diaz is now within two home runs of his career high, which was set in 2016 with the Cardinals. Left fielder Teoscar Hernandez was the only player in the Blue Jays' lineup to reach base more than once.
The lack of offensive execution overshadowed an otherwise productive day for Blue Jays starter Sam Gaviglio, who allowed two runs -- one earned -- on six hits over 5 1/3 innings. Gaviglio struck out seven and did not walk a batter while throwing 67 of his 99 pitches for strikes. It was arguably Gaviglio's best outing since he tossed seven innings in a victory over Baltimore on July 20.
"It makes it easier on Russ when you are getting ahead," said Gaviglio, who has struck out at least seven batters in back-to-back starts for the first time in his career. "But you also have to be able to put guys away when you are ahead. I thought I did a better job of that today, and moving forward that's something I need to keep doing."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Caught stealing: The Blue Jays entered the bottom of the seventh trailing by one when Martin led off with a single to left. That gave Toronto a little bit of hope until two batters later. Kevin Pillar swung and missed during a hit-and-run, and as a result Martin was easily thrown out at second base. Pillar later walked, but he was quickly erased after being picked off at first base by right-hander Hunter Wood.
Leave 'em stranded: Toronto's best opportunity to make some noise with its bats came in the bottom of the second when the club loaded the bases with one out. Diaz got ahead in the count, 3-1, but then swung at two consecutive balls while eventually popping out into foul territory. Pillar followed with a weak ground ball as the inning came to an end without any runs crossing the plate.
Hernandez doubled and walked for a 1-for-3 afternoon. He has now had 50 of his 91 hits this season go for extra bases. Since the 2017 All-Star break, 56.1 percent of his hits have gone for extra bases, which is third highest in the American League among qualified hitters.
Right-hander Marcus Stroman (4-8, 5.20 ERA) will take the mound when the Blue Jays close out their three-game series against the Rays on Sunday afternoon with first pitch scheduled for 1:07 p.m. ET. Stroman was forced to leave his last start after seven innings because of a blister on his right middle finger, but he is expected to be fine to make this start. Tampa Bay will counter with right-hander Tyler Glasnow (1-2, 4.14).
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.