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Smith's 1st HR only bright spot in quiet finale

May 24, 2018

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' season started on such a positive note with one of the best Aprils in franchise history, but the club has crashed back to reality during a troublesome May.The Blue Jays have yet to win a series this month after dropping the series finale, 8-1, to

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' season started on such a positive note with one of the best Aprils in franchise history, but the club has crashed back to reality during a troublesome May.
The Blue Jays have yet to win a series this month after dropping the series finale, 8-1, to the Angels on Thursday afternoon at Rogers Centre. The latest loss saw Toronto's record in May fall to 7-15 (.318), which is the second-lowest winning percentage in the Major Leagues ahead of only the D-backs.
John Smith provided one of the only bright spots with the first home run of his career, but outside of that it was another quiet afternoon for Toronto's offense. The Blue Jays have scored more than four runs just seven times this month and have now lost eight of their last nine home games. For as good as April was, May has been equally as bad.
"It's not that we can't be, it's that we need to be better," said Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson, who went 1-for-4 in the loss. "We're not doing it as a collective group right now. We have the capability to do it. I think if we didn't have the capability that would be one thing, but we have the capability to do it. We just have to go out there and do it."
Toronto's record on May 1 was 17-12, but the club now finds itself a season-high four games below .500. In some ways, the results are a complete reversal of last season, yet so far, they have led to the same outcome. The Blue Jays infamously got off to the worst start in franchise history a year ago before altering course in May with an 18-10 record. This season, the months were reversed, but the record is the same. Through 50 games, Toronto has been 23-27 both years.
The records are identical, but the standings definitely are not. At this point last year, Toronto was fifth in the American League East and 6 1/2 games out of first place. This year, the Blue Jays are fourth, but 11 games back of the division lead. Toronto's prospects at the second Wild Card spot are better, but even there the club will have to turn it around soon to remain in the conversation after finishing Thursday's game seven games back of the Mariners.
"We really swung the bats in April, our bullpen was lights out," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said after a 1-6 homestand. "Some things kind of corrected a little bit, you figured it was going to a little bit. We haven't had the consistent starting pitching that we expected and that I think eventually we will have. When you lump them all together, that's what happens sometimes."

Right-hander Marco Estrada took the loss in the finale after he allowed four runs on seven hits and two walks over 4 1/3 innings. Michael Trout homered while Justin Upton and Martin Maldonado had multihit games to secure the series victory for Los Angeles. Toronto's record in series this month dropped to 0-5-2, which marks the first time the Blue Jays have gone winless in seven consecutive series since April 3-27, 2017 (0-6-1).
Toronto's lineup could not do much of anything off right-hander Nick Tropeano, who scattered four hits and one walk over 7 1/3 innings. Tropeano's lone blemish came in the bottom of the sixth when Smith hit a solo home run to right field. Smith, who got the start in left field for the resting Curtis Granderson, registered the sixth extra-base hit of his career but didn't receive much help from the rest of his teammates.
"We're in a funk right now, but I think we're going to be just fine again," Estrada said. "Every team goes through this. Unfortunately we're going through this right now. We're better than this, we really are. Whether people believe it or not, I don't really care. I know we are better. I know I'm much better, I'm not pitching like it right now, but I will get better."
The Blue Jays have not won a series against the Angels since Aug. 21-23, 2015. Toronto has not won a series at home vs. the Halos since Aug. 12-14, 2011.
Teoscar Hernandez has experienced his fair share of adventures in right field this season, but he pulled off a pretty impressive play in the top of the eighth inning. With runners on first and second and nobody out, Luis Valbuena hit a sinking liner to right field. Hernandez wasn't able to get there in time to make the catch, but he grabbed the ball on a short hop and fired the ball to third base. Shohei Ohtani, who was on second, initially held up on the play and by the time he got to third base it was too late. Instead of a single to right, Valbuena reached on a fielder's choice.

The Blue Jays will open a three-game Interleague series in Philadelphia when right-hander Sam Gaviglio (1-0, 0.93 ERA) takes the mound Friday, with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET. Gaviglio staked his claim to a spot in the rotation by tossing 5 1/3 scoreless innings vs. Oakland his last time out. There is still no timetable for Marcus Stroman's return, so this job belongs to Gaviglio for as long as his performance dictates it. Philadelphia will counter with right-hander Zach Eflin (1-0, 1.56 ERA).

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