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Blue Jays hurt by errors, get swept by A's

Four-game sweep is first against Toronto at home since 2001
MLB.com @gregorMLB

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' recent slide continued on Sunday afternoon, as Toronto was swept in a four-game series at home for the first time in 17 years.

Right-hander Joe Biagini allowed four runs -- three earned -- on six hits and two walks in a 9-2 loss to the A's at Rogers Centre. A two-run homer by Yangervis Solarte in the ninth inning was the only thing that stopped the Blue Jays from being shut out for the third time this season, but a series of defensive miscues led to the club's eighth loss in its last 10 games.

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TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' recent slide continued on Sunday afternoon, as Toronto was swept in a four-game series at home for the first time in 17 years.

Right-hander Joe Biagini allowed four runs -- three earned -- on six hits and two walks in a 9-2 loss to the A's at Rogers Centre. A two-run homer by Yangervis Solarte in the ninth inning was the only thing that stopped the Blue Jays from being shut out for the third time this season, but a series of defensive miscues led to the club's eighth loss in its last 10 games.

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Video: OAK@TOR: Solarte jacks a 2-run homer to center field

Toronto was swept in a four-game series at home for the first time since May 31-June 3, 2001, to the Red Sox. It marked the first time the Blue Jays were swept in any four-game series since May 14-17, 2015, at Houston. Toronto has now lost six consecutive home games for the first time since July 19-24, 2013. To say things aren't going well would be a drastic understatement.

"It was ugly," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons admitted after the game. "Wash it off, move on. Day off tomorrow, show up Tuesday. We're obviously better than that, but we're on a bad stretch right now. We're not playing real good baseball in a bunch of different areas. We've seen it before, we'll see it again. That's the nature of the beast, but when we're struggling it's magnified, no doubt."

Video: OAK@TOR: Gibbons on 9-2 loss to the Athletics

Biagini has received his fair share of criticism as a starter, but he pitched a lot better than the box score would indicate and it's clear he deserved a better fate. Oakland scored an unearned run in the second inning on an error by third baseman Josh Donaldson, and more subpar fielding played a big role in the A's four-run fifth.

Toronto was officially charged with four errors, but there were several more borderline plays that should have been made. Donaldson had a ball sneak under his glove in the fifth and he also bobbled a chopper that cost him an out at first but was ruled a hit. Teoscar Hernandez dropped a ball in right field and Richard Urena booted a couple of grounders at shortstop in what will easily go down as Toronto's sloppiest game of the year.

Video: OAK@TOR: Piscotty scores on Hernandez's error

"You have to learn how to lose as well," Blue Jays designated hitter Kendrys Morales said of the club's recent woes. "A lot of the guys here, their heads are not down. We have good chemistry, we have good energy. I think things are going to turn around pretty quick."

A's starter Daniel Mengden entered play on Sunday having allowed two earned runs or fewer in each of his last three starts, and that trend continued with another solid outing in the series finale. Mengden limited the Blue Jays to a pair of hits and one walk while striking out two over seven strong innings of work. Toronto's struggling offense has now scored four runs or fewer in 12 of its past 16 games.

The Blue Jays will have to turn things around in a hurry if they want to remain in the mix for the second American League Wild Card spot. The Angels, who entered play on Sunday having lost five straight games, will arrive in town on Tuesday for the start of a three-game series. Los Angeles lost its grip on the second Wild Card spot after its recent struggles, but the club remains within striking distance of the Mariners for that final spot in the postseason.

"Not at all," Blue Jays outfielder Curtis Granderson said, when asked if there was an added sense of urgency heading into the Angels series. "It's only May. Regardless, if we were playing a team that was in first place, had the best record in baseball, or a team that had the worst record in baseball, we still have to put ourselves in a position to win the series. It doesn't matter who the opponent happens to be."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Missed opportunity: Before the game got out of hand, the Blue Jays had a perfect opportunity to get on the board and dictate play. In the bottom of the third inning, Toronto had runners on second and third with one out, but the rally was wasted when Granderson struck out and Donaldson hit a weak grounder to third base. That was the only inning in which the Blue Jays had runners in scoring position vs. Mengden, and the 0-for-3 day the plate for Donaldson means he is now batting .214 with a .721 OPS in 29 games this season.

Video: OAK@TOR: Mengden gets Granderson swinging in the 3rd

Trouble at the hot corner: Donaldson made a crucial error in the top of the second that allowed the first run to score. There were more issues in the fifth. With nobody out and a runner on first, Donaldson fielded a chopper off the bat of catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Donaldson initially looked to second base and appeared to slightly bobble the ball before making a late throw to first base. The play was ruled a hit, but should have resulted in an out. The same could be said for a grounder that got under Donaldson's glove later in the frame. Oakland had two extra outs to work with and used that situation to its advantage by scoring four in the fifth to take complete control of the game.

Video: OAK@TOR: Chapman scores on Donaldson's error in 2nd

SOUND SMART
The four errors by the Blue Jays were the most they've had in a game since May 18, 2014, at Texas.

MORALES TAKES THE MOUND
Gibbons said on several occasions earlier this season that he nearly used Morales as a pitcher. Well, it finally happened on Sunday afternoon. Morales was brought into the game in the top of the ninth inning and he consistently hit 82-83 mph with his fastball, topping out at 86.7.

Morales got the first batter he faced to fly out to left field. He then issued a walk to Matt Chapman before Stephen Piscotty flied out to right and Lucroy flied out to center to end the inning. Toronto's designated hitter became the 11th position player in franchise history to pitch for the Blue Jays, and the first since Darwin Barney and Ryan Goins in 2016.

"I haven't pitched in an organized game since 2002, so it had been a long time," Morales said through an interpreter. "They needed me for an inning. It happened, but hopefully it doesn't happen again, because it means we're losing. … It was a nice experience. Just trying to throw strikes, but at the same time it's just too bad that you have to pitch in a losing cause."

Video: OAK@TOR: Morales retires Lucroy for scoreless 9th

UP NEXT
The Blue Jays will enjoy a day off on Monday before opening a three-game series against the Angels. Left-hander J.A. Happ is scheduled to start the series opener on Tuesday night, with first pitch scheduled for 7:07 p.m. ET at Rogers Centre. Happ finished his last start ranked seventh in the AL with 66 strikeouts, and his 11.42 strikeouts per nine innings are third best. He is the first pitcher in the Majors this season with three starts of nine-plus strikeouts and zero walks. Garrett Richards starts for the Angels.

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

Toronto Blue Jays, Joe Biagini, Josh Donaldson, Kendrys Morales