Blue Jays shut down by Angels' young lefty
After Happ's early exit, late rally in ninth not enough for Toronto
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have knocked around some pretty good pitching this year. Their offense has taken it to All-Star and veteran pitchers like Jon Lester, Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett and Ubaldo Jimenez.
But for the second straight game, the Blue Jays weren't facing a hurler with a glowing resume. And for the second straight game, they could not muster any meaningful or timely offense against a budding young Angels pitcher.
Tyler Skaggs allowed four hits over a career-high-tying eight-plus innings -- at one point retiring 21 straight Toronto hitters -- as the Angels downed the Blue Jays, 5-3, at Rogers Centre on Saturday afternoon.
Toronto manager John Gibbons didn't speak to the media following the game, but he delivered a simple message through the team: "Skaggs was great, he manhandled us."
The 22-year-old left-hander was nearly flawless as he induced popout after popout, groundout after groundout en route to his third win of the season. It was the sixth time in seven games the Halos have won when Skaggs starts.
Skaggs didn't walk a batter for the second time this season, and he navigated the minefield that is the Blue Jays' batting order by mixing speeds and pitching for contact.
"Everything felt good," Skaggs said. "Curveball felt good, changeup felt good. Two-seamer was a huge pitch. … I honestly didn't even think about [retiring 21 in a row]. Somebody asked me about it and I had no clue. I actually thought I walked somebody. Kind of just zoned out there. Kind of just locked in and tried to take it pitch by pitch."
Skaggs showed off his best stuff in the fifth, sitting down Juan Francisco and Steve Tolleson with back-to-back strikeouts. Tolleson worked a 2-2 count for nine pitches before being punched out on a called third strike for what was Skaggs' third strikeout of the afternoon.
"He had some good movement on his fastball. Groundballs, popups ... There weren't a lot of hard hits today," said Blue Jays catcher Erik Kratz, who was 0-for-3.
Toronto made it interesting in the ninth, knocking Skaggs out of the game with two hits to start the inning and sparking a late rally. After Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera hit back-to-back singles, Skaggs was replaced by Joe Smith with Jose Bautista due up.
The power-hitting outfielder cracked an RBI single to bring home Reyes, cutting the lead to 5-2. In doing so, Bautista took a step closer to making Blue Jays history. With that hit, he has now reached base safely in 37 straight games to start the season, tying him with Joe Carter and Carlos Delgado as the only Jays players to accomplish the feat. Bautista is now in line to tie -- and maybe even break -- Delgado's club record of reaching base in 38 consecutive games.
Toronto would bring the go-ahead run to the plate in the form of pinch-hitter Adam Lind. Lind, however, grounded into a game-ending double play, locking up the save for Smith.
J.A. Happ was dealt the loss on the mound. Happ, making his second start of the season, lasted 2 1/3 innings. He gave up three runs and five hits in the second inning alone.
Howie Kendrick doubled to lead off that inning, and he then scored on C.J. Cron's RBI single. Chris Iannetta continued the rally with his third home run of the season to make it 3-1 Angels.
For a moment, it looked like it would go from bad to worse for the Blue Jays, as slugger Albert Pujols hit one deep to left field with two out and the bases loaded. But Cabrera tracked it down on the warning track to end the threat.
The third inning brought more woes for Happ, as Cron hit his first career home run to extend the Halos' lead to 4-1. Iannetta singled to mark the end of Happ's day.
All told, Happ allowed seven hits and four runs, including two home runs, while registering four strikeouts.
"They're a great hitting ballclub, but we've got a lot those in our division too, and throughout baseball," Happ said. "So you kind of put that out of your mind, and you try to pitch and you try to execute, and it was certainly frustrating today not being as sharp as I'd like."