The Blue Jays' offense exploded for seven homers on Wednesday night and set season highs in both runs and hits, but their incredible comeback still wasn’t enough to beat the Marlins and instead set a dubious MLB feat.
Toronto stormed back from an eight-run third-inning deficit to tie things at 11 in the eighth and force extras, but the Marlins’ bats came back to life and gave them one final nudge, leaving the Blue Jays with a 14-11 loss in 10 innings that will be difficult to swallow after such a long-awaited night from their lineup.
Down 11-4 midway through the fifth, it looked like it was time for the Blue Jays to send in the mop-up man and weather the storm, but a string of four two-run homers kept Toronto involved. It was a stunning turn, too, after the Blue Jays hit 14 straight solo homers before finally breaking that streak on Tuesday in their Sahlen Field opener in Buffalo, N.Y.
According to STATS, the Blue Jays are the first team in MLB history to have at least 18 hits and seven home runs in a game and lose. They are also just the fifth team to hit a home run in six consecutive innings.
“Hopefully that’s the start of a good offense and what we think we can do,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said after the loss. “The other side was our defense, which was not very good. We didn’t make the plays and [the Marlins] are playing pretty good, so when you make errors, they take advantage. That’s what they did.”
Teoscar Hernández got the party started early with a bang, launching a 466-foot shot to left field with an exit velocity of 115.9 mph, both career bests. Rowdy Tellez followed suit with a blast to the parking lot in right field before Travis Shaw (100th career homer) and Danny Jansen joined in on the fun.
Bichette had a massive night overall, going 5-for-5 with a walk and two steals, boosting his average up to .352. He became the first shortstop in the modern era to reach base safely six times, hit a home run and steal two bases in the same game, according to STATS.
“We kind of hit a tipping point,” Bichette said. “We finally said, 'Enough is enough. We’re going to put our heads down and play ball.' I think it was a good game all around. After the fact, we got a lot out of this game. We’re going to continue to push and play hard.”
Both Bichette and Montoyo recognize the bad in this loss, but they are taking the lineup’s big night as a sign. Montoyo has long said that once the Blue Jays get into a stretch of playing every day, this type of hitting will catch on throughout the lineup as hitters stop trying to do too much, especially with runners on.
Their timing couldn’t have been better, as this covered up a poor outing from right-hander Nate Pearson, who got away from his elite fastball and, eventually, the strike zone. Pearson lasted just 2 1/3 innings, allowing seven runs (four earned) on five hits and four walks. This happened right alongside another stretch of fundamental mistakes from the Blue Jays, which has been a worrying trend through the first few weeks of the season.
Things got ugly in the third, which Pearson couldn’t escape after walking in the fourth run of the game with the bases loaded. The next three runs scored without a base hit, either, as the fielding errors really started to snowball.
First came a bobbled routine grounder by Guerrero, who couldn’t recover in time to beat the runner to first, then a passed ball with the bases loaded to bring home another. The real head scratcher came next, when catcher Jansen tried to pick off the runner at second, but Cavan Biggio didn’t get the memo to cover the bag. Even though Biggio caught it, the runner easily scampered home from third.
“Let’s go, we need to get better,” Montoyo said. “Our players know it. It’s not a surprise. We need to get better, and they know it.”