Storen's confidence unshaken after rocky night

Reliever hits 2 batters, allow 4 runs as Colorado grabs lead

June 28th, 2016
Drew Storen has been more reliable in recent weeks but saw his ERA climb to 6.28 on Monday night at Coors Field. (AP)

COLORADO -- Drew Storen had been on a nice roll for most of June, but any momentum gained after a slow start to the season came to a halt Monday night in the Blue Jays' 9-5 loss to the Rockies at Coors Field.

Storen was called upon to protect a 4-3 lead in the seventh inning. Five batters later, with the lone out coming via a sacrifice bunt, Storen was sent to the showers and Toronto was on its way to a series-opening loss.

Storen and right-hander Jesse Chavez combined to allow six runs on five hits, a walk and two hit batters. The six runs were the most Toronto has surrendered in any inning this season, and Blue Jays manager John Gibbons finds himself going back to the drawing board when it comes to late-inning relief.

"It wasn't a good inning, it's kind of tough to rehash it, too," a frustrated Gibbons said.

Storen's problems began with a leadoff single by left fielder Brandon Barnes. The first out of the inning then came on a sacrifice bunt by Tyler Anderson, but it went downhill from there. Storen loaded the bases by hitting Charlie Blackmon and Cristhian Adames in back-to-back at-bats.

Nolan Arenado officially sent Storen packing with a two-run single to left as Colorado took its first lead of the night, 5-4. Chavez entered but didn't fare any better as two more of Storen's baserunners came around to score as part of the six-run frame.

"I figured I'd get a chance to get a pitch over the plate, and luckily I did," Arenado said. "But Storen's a good pitcher. He's not a comfortable at-bat."

Storen, who has experienced a drop in velocity this season, admitted after the game that he was overthrowing when the lead runner got into scoring position.

"It was one of those things where I hit those guys and kind of tried to get it on it a little too much and tried to throw it a little too hard," Storen said. "I yanked it. I missed location on a couple of pitches, and that's pretty much it. You're not going to find much success late in the game if you're doing that."

Storen had a terrible start to the season with an ERA that reached 10.13 on April 29. He lost his primary setup job, and Toronto began to use him in low-leverage situations, but the importance of his role was starting to increase in recent weeks. At least, until Monday night.

What the Blue Jays decide to do from here remains unclear. Veteran righty Jason Grilli has proven to be a solid fit in the bullpen, and the club is expected to get lefty Brett Cecil back from the disabled list in the coming days. Even so, Toronto needs another reliever to bridge the gap to Roberto Osuna.

From Storen's standpoint, he'll attempt to forget all about Monday night and instead focus on the 18 of his previous 23 outings that were scoreless.

"I bounced back from the first month of the season, so adversity is nothing new," Storen said. "It's not an ideal situation tonight, but I'll be ready for tomorrow."