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Garcia chased early; Blue Jays drop 4th straight

MLB.com @gregorMLB

DETROIT -- Jaime Garcia appeared to figure some things out during his last start against the Phillies, but it was back to square one when he returned to an American League ballpark.

Garcia was hit hard, early and often, in a 5-2 loss to the Tigers on Friday night at Comerica Park. He allowed seven hits over 1 2/3 innings in what became the shortest outing by a Blue Jays starter this season.

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DETROIT -- Jaime Garcia appeared to figure some things out during his last start against the Phillies, but it was back to square one when he returned to an American League ballpark.

Garcia was hit hard, early and often, in a 5-2 loss to the Tigers on Friday night at Comerica Park. He allowed seven hits over 1 2/3 innings in what became the shortest outing by a Blue Jays starter this season.

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The veteran lefty has been struggling all year, but there was a hope that one run over seven innings vs. Philadelphia would allow him to build some momentum. It didn't. Instead, Garcia saw his ERA rise to 6.08 with a record that sits at 2-4 through 10 starts.

"Just the opposite," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said when comparing the two recent starts. "If he throws it over the plate, he's going to be fine. But he has to do that. He has to put himself in good counts, but he's not doing that enough. There's no doubt they found some holes on him, but he has to work ahead. We've seen him do it. That's how he's going to be successful. It's that simple."

Video: TOR@DET: Hernandez drives in Diaz with a RBI triple

Starting pitchers sometimes experience bad luck with batted balls that find holes or a couple of strike calls that don't go their way. That wasn't the case for Garcia, as five hits were clocked with exit velocities above 100 mph and a sixth came in at 99 mph. Garcia has managed to complete six innings just once since his first start of the year, and he doesn't appear to be fooling too many hitters at the moment.

The latest setback to the Blue Jays' rotation saw the group's ERA rise to 5.40, which ranks 27th in the Major Leagues. Lefty J.A. Happ (3.84) has been the one consistent presence on Toronto's staff, but Aaron Sanchez (4.77), Marco Estrada (5.68) and the injured Marcus Stroman (7.71) have all struggled, while the jury remains out on Sam Gaviglio (3.32) after three starts.

"Brutal," Garcia said in a one-word response when asked what his biggest issue was, before elaborating on other questions. "It's just the feel of my pitches. It's frustrating, man. It's frustrating. I take a lot of pride in getting the job done, and I haven't been able to do that. It's very disappointing from my side."

Gibbons was quick to pull Garcia to give his team a chance to get back into the game, but it never really happened. Toronto scored two runs in the sixth on a Teoscar Hernandez triple and a sacrifice fly by Kendrys Morales as Detroit's lead was cut to two, but that was as close as Toronto would get. The Blue Jays have scored four runs or fewer in five of their past six games, and they are coming off a month in which they had the second-fewest hits in the AL with 211.

Video: DET@TOR: Morales hits a sac fly to deep center

Detroit lefty Blaine Hardy picked up the victory after he limited Toronto to the two runs on three hits and four walks over six innings. The Blue Jays have lost eight consecutive games against left-handed starters, and they are now 8-15 in those situations this season. Relievers Buck Farmer, Johnny Barbato, Artie Lewicki and Shane Greene closed out the game for the Tigers, who have won three straight games.

Toronto was hoping to turn the page on a disappointing May, which saw the Blue Jays post a .321 winning percentage (9-19). That was the third-lowest in the Majors, trailing only the D-backs (.296) and the White Sox (.296), and Toronto did not win consecutive games at any point during that month. The Blue Jays' losing streak now sits at four games, and the club has lost 14 of its past 18 games.

"We had some opportunities late, but other than that they held us in check," Gibbons said. "Tough start for Garcia, no doubt about it. The bullpen came in and did a good job. Gave us a chance."

Video: TOR@DET: Pillar makes sliding catch to rob Rodriguez

SOUND SMART
Hernandez finished 3-for-5, which included his fourth triple of the season. That moved him into a tie for third place for most triples in the American League. He also has 12 multi-hit games this season, and it was his third game of three or more hits.

HE SAID IT
"He went out there and tried to run around, and he just didn't feel right. So we figured, well you know what, back off, go on the DL. We'll live with that." -- Gibbons, on the Blue Jays' decision to place third baseman Josh Donaldson on the 10-day DL with a left calf injury approximately one hour prior to first pitch

UP NEXT
Happ (7-3, 3.84 ERA) will take the mound when the Blue Jays continue their three-game series against the Tigers on Saturday afternoon, with first pitch scheduled for 4:10 p.m. ET. Happ has struck out at least eight in seven starts this season, which is tied for the fourth most in the Majors. He leads the Blue Jays with six quality starts, and he allowed three runs (two earned) over 6 2/3 innings last time out. Detroit will counter with left-hander and former Blue Jay Matthew Boyd (3-4, 3.00 ERA).

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

Toronto Blue Jays, Jaime Garcia, Teoscar Hernandez, Kendrys Morales