ST. PETERSBURG -- Toronto starter Jaime Garcia struggled with his command all evening and the Blue Jays bats went silent in a 4-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Tuesday night at Tropicana Field.Garcia (2-5) took the loss after he allowed four earned runs in his five-plus innings of work. He
ST. PETERSBURG -- Toronto starter Jaime Garcia struggled with his command all evening and the Blue Jays bats went silent in a 4-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Tuesday night at Tropicana Field.
Garcia (2-5) took the loss after he allowed four earned runs in his five-plus innings of work. He gave up just four hits and struck out four, but found himself working behind in the count for most of the night as he surrendered four free passes to the Rays. He also had a throwing error on top of it.
"That's a tough one," Garcia said. "A couple mistakes and some walks in there that ended up costing me the game, costing us the game."
With two outs and a man on in the bottom of the third, Garcia hung a 1-0 changeup to Rays catcher Wilson Ramos, and Ramos lined it over the wall in straightaway center to give the Rays a 2-0 lead.
A walk by C.J. Cron and a double by Willy Adames finally chased Garcia two batters into the sixth. Facing reliever Joe Biagini, pinch-hitter Joey Wendle singled through the right side of a drawn-in infield and Mallex Smith lined a single to center to give the Rays a 4-1 lead.
Tuesday's start continued a trend for Garcia in which he has alternated between masterful and subpar outings. Since May 3, Garcia has had three starts where he went at least five innings while allowing just one earned run. Sandwiched between those solid starts were three outings in which he failed to make it past the fourth inning, allowing 16 runs in a combined 8 2/3 innings.
"All I can say is that I'm doing everything that is in my control between starts," Garcia said. "I really don't have an answer right now."
To make matters worse, the Toronto offense was stymied by a string of Rays receivers on the team's designated bullpen day. The Blue Jays' only threat came in the fifth. Randal Grichuk led off the inning against Rays reliever Austin Pruitt with a slow, bouncing chopper down the third-base line that Matt Duffy wasn't able to corral in time to prevent an infield single. Aledmys Diaz followed with an opposite-field single and advanced to second base as Grichuk beat the throw to third, setting up Devon Travis to plate Toronto's lone run with an RBI groundout.
After walking pinch-hitter Kendrys Morales, Rays reliever Jonny Venters was able to induce a weak groundout by Yangervis Solarte to end the threat.
"They just shut us down," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "To be honest, they've always held us in check down here. I don't care what their roster is, what team, what year, it's kind of been that way."
The Blue Jays have made three errors so far in the series, all of which were made by pitchers.
HE SAID IT
"You don't do anything different. You just treat it like if some guy takes a shot to the kneecap in the first inning and gets knocked out. I don't think there is any other way you can do it." -- Gibbons, on managing against the "bullpen day" philosophy
The Blue Jays will wrap up their three-game road set with a 1:10 p.m. ET matinee against the Rays at Tropicana Field on Wednesday. Lefty J.A. Happ (8-3, 3.71 ERA) will get the start in the finale against Wilmer Font, who is expected to open a second straight bullpen day for the Rays. The veteran Happ has been the Blue Jays' most consistent pitcher this season, especially on the road, where he owns a 2.97 ERA.
J. Scott Butherus is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Petersburg.