Anderson, Villar lift Brewers over Blue Jays

April 12th, 2017

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays are now eight games into the regular season and their bats have yet to show up. The latest beneficiary was Brewers right-hander Chase Anderson.

Anderson cruised throughout most of his outing as he held Toronto in check over seven strong innings in a 2-0 victory on Wednesday night at Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays managed just three hits off the 29-year-old, who finished with two walks and seven strikeouts en route to his first victory of the season. Milwaukee's offense was led by a solo homer from and an RBI double by .

"The heart of that lineup is as good as you're going to face," said Brewers manager Craig Counsell in a tip of the cap to Toronto's , Josh Donaldson, , and , who were held to two hits in 15 at-bats as the Blue Jays' offensive struggles continued. "There's very decorated hitters in the heart of that lineup. You know, we probably caught them at a pretty good time, but our guys made pitches."

did his job by tossing the second complete game of his career, but once again a Toronto starting pitcher was the victim of a lack of run support. The Blue Jays have a Major League-worst .549 OPS, and while manager John Gibbons continues to say he expects his team will break out any day, it did not happen in the series finale vs. Milwaukee.

Toronto put three baserunners in scoring position against the Brewers and came up short each time. This marked the fourth time this year the Blue Jays lost a game in which the opposition scored three runs or fewer, and that's something that happened just eight times in the first half of 2016. Of the 76 innings Toronto has played this year, the Blue Jays have been in the lead for just nine of them.

"In my opinion, the pitchers that are facing us are too comfortable on the mound, and they're dictating a lot of the pace of the game," Donaldson said. "We have to do something different in order to make them feel like they have to do something different."

• Donaldson returns to lineup

The Brewers picked up the mini two-game sweep to improve their all-time record at Rogers Centre to 33-31. Toronto lost its fifth game in a row and dropped to 4 1/2 games behind first-place Baltimore, and will look to rebound when the Orioles arrive at Rogers Centre for a four-game series Thursday night.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Going yard: Villar has experienced his fair share of ups and downs this season at the plate, in the field and on the bases -- he was picked off second base in the third inning without even touching the bag -- but it was all positive in the top of the sixth as he took the team lead in home runs with a solo shot to center field. According to Statcast™, Villar's third of the year was projected to travel 417 feet and left his bat at 105 mph. That was one of the few times the Brewers were able to get the ball in the air against Stroman, who recorded 14 of his 18 outs through the first six innings on the ground.

"The last two nights, it looks to me like he's started to swing it considerably better," Counsell said of Villar.

Escape artist: Toronto's offense has been missing in action all season, and the struggles continued Wednesday night as Anderson retired the first 10 batters he faced. The Blue Jays did manage to piece together a potential rally in the the fourth when Martin stepped to the plate with the bases loaded, but he then proceeded to foul off a pair of fastballs that were right down the heart of the plate. That proved costly as Anderson eventually threw a 1-2 curveball for a called third strike to escape the jam. Martin dropped to 0-for-20, which was the longest active skid in the Majors until he snapped that with a double in the seventh inning. More >

"We're just not getting many hits right now, but I still believe that," Gibbons said of his team turning it around at the plate. "Maybe tomorrow will be the night. If it's not tomorrow night, it's going to happen. They'll hang together, they're that kind of group."

QUOTABLE

"It's always nice to keep our feet light." -- , on playing defense for a pitcher who is dealing

"I believe this is the best offense in baseball. I know it is. It's just a matter of we're struggling a bit right now. Once these guys get going it's going to be scary. It's still early. First week of the season. There's zero reason to panic." -- Stroman, on his team's lineup

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS

Martin's 0-for-20 skid was Toronto's longest hitless slump in franchise history that started on Opening Day.

WHAT'S NEXT

Brewers: Handshakes and hugs will abound when the Brewers visit Scooter Gennett's Reds for the start of a four-game series Thursday at 6:10 p.m. CT. Gennett, plucked off waivers by Cincinnati near the end of Spring Training, got off to a solid start with his new team, with three home runs in his first 19 at-bats. Jimmy Nelson matches up against Reds veteran in the opening game.

Blue Jays: Left-hander (0-0) will take the mound when the Blue Jays open a four-game series against Baltimore on Thursday night at Rogers Centre at 7:07 ET. Liriano is coming off arguably the worst start of his career as he retired just one batter and allowed five runs on three hits and four walks. The biggest problem was command as he threw just 13 of his 35 pitches for strikes. Baltimore will counter with right-hander (0-0).

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