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Blue Jays drop finale to end disappointing May

May 30, 2018

BOSTON -- Last year, the Blue Jays rode the wave through one of the best Mays in franchise history. This year, they'd be better off pretending the month never happened.Toronto officially closed the books on an extremely disappointing May with a 6-4 loss and a series sweep at Fenway Park

BOSTON -- Last year, the Blue Jays rode the wave through one of the best Mays in franchise history. This year, they'd be better off pretending the month never happened.
Toronto officially closed the books on an extremely disappointing May with a 6-4 loss and a series sweep at Fenway Park at the hands of the Red Sox. The Blue Jays finished the month with a 9-19 record, which marks the first time since 1981 that Toronto did not record double-digit wins in the month.
The .321 winning percentage is the fourth lowest the Blue Jays have ever produced for May, and as of Wednesday afternoon, it was the third lowest in the Major Leagues. Toronto did not win back-to-back games in a month for just the fourth time in franchise history, alongside July 1977, September 1978 and May 1979.
"It's fine. I think guys are upset. I think guys are disappointed," Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar said, when asked about the clubhouse morale. "We have some talented players here who aren't playing up to their capabilities.

"We have a lot of guys who have been in the Major Leagues for a long time. They have been through this before. You try not to let it affect your morale, your clubhouse chemistry. There's no one to blame here, we're in this together. Collectively, we just have to find a way to go out there and compete a little bit more and do the little things right."
The May performance was a far cry from last season, when Toronto went 18-10 (.643), which ranked third in the Majors. It's also out of the norm for a franchise that has been known to get off to slow starts in April but typically enjoys one of its best months in May. Over the previous four years, the Blue Jays had a .586 winning percentage, which also ranked third in the Major Leagues.
The latest loss showcased some of the issues that have been plaguing the Blue Jays throughout May. With the exception of a two-run homer by Teoscar Hernandez in the sixth inning, Toronto's offense was once again held in check. Boston lefty Eduardo Rodriguez allowed two runs on three hits and a walk while striking out seven over 6 2/3 innings for his sixth victory of the year.
"I don't know how many times I've said that this year, but I'm looking forward to the day off tomorrow," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We could use it."
The Blue Jays didn't have many opportunities until the ninth when they scored two runs on Kendrys Morales' double and moved the tying run into scoring position against Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel, but they ultimately came up short. Toronto left four men on base and went 1-for-4 with runners in scoring position.

The lack of runs has been a problem for awhile, as Toronto had a slash line of .224/.300/.387 in May. The Blue Jays' .693 OPS for the month ranks 25th in the Major Leagues, and they were held to four runs or fewer in 19 of 28 games. Toronto's pitching staff wasn't any better with a 5.35 ERA, which ranked 29th in the Majors.
"If it was one thing, we could spend a lot of time and energy trying to fix one thing," Pillar said. "When it's multiple things, it's difficult to do. You hate using the cliche, but it's still early, and I know we have a big hill to climb, but we have a lot of time. A day off is going to be nice. People can get away from the game a little bit, refresh, relax, come back to the yard and look to sweep the series. Get back home and play well there and see what happens."
Right-hander Sam Gaviglio took the loss on Wednesday afternoon after he allowed four runs on seven hits without issuing a walk and striking out four. The big blow came in the bottom of the sixth, when J.D. Martinez hit a two-run shot for his 18th home run of the season. Eduardo Nunez added a solo shot while Jackie Bradley Jr. enjoyed a two-hit afternoon, which included an RBI double.
"I didn't execute a pitch there," Gaviglio said, in reference to the Martinez home run. "He got into a hitting count. That didn't help me out much, and I need to throw a better pitch there, obviously."
The Blue Jays allowed the Red Sox to score first in each game of the series. Toronto is 9-23 this season when the opponent scores first. The Blue Jays also have lost five consecutive games within the division and nine of their past 11. The club's record against division rivals this year is 8-15.
Gibbons won a pair of challenges in the bottom of the third inning. The first one happened shortly after Andrew Benintendi appeared to steal second base. Second-base umpire Jordan Baker called Benintendi safe, but the Blue Jays asked for a review and replays later showed that the Red Sox outfielder was tagged a split second before his hand touched the bag.

During that same at-bat, Gaviglio threw a ball in the dirt that bounced away from catcher Luke Maile. Bradley made a dash for the plate, and he was called safe after it appeared as though his hand moved around the tag by Gaviglio. Replays later showed that Gaviglio barely touched him, possibly even with the laces of his glove, before Bradley touched home plate. The call was overturned and Bradley was called out.

The Blue Jays will enjoy a day off on Thursday before opening a three-game series against the Tigers on Friday night at Comerica Park, with first pitch scheduled for 7:10 ET. Veteran lefty Jaime Garcia (2-3, 5.52 ERA) will take the mound in the series opener, and he's coming off his best outing of the season. In his last start, Garcia needed just 73 pitches to get through seven innings of one-run ball against the Phillies. Third baseman Josh Donaldson is questionable for this game with a sore left calf. Detroit will counter with lefty Blaine Hardy (1-0, 2.70 ERA).

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.