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Biagini, Blue Jays can't catch Red Sox in loss

MLB.com @gregorMLB

TORONTO -- Joe Biagini's transition to a full-time starting pitcher is still a work in progress. The latest example came during Sunday afternoon's series finale against the Red Sox.

Biagini was chased in the fifth inning after he allowed four runs in a 5-3 loss to Boston on a special Mother's Day matinee at Rogers Centre. There were glimpses of progress and hints of the same pitfalls that plagued the former reliever late last season.

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TORONTO -- Joe Biagini's transition to a full-time starting pitcher is still a work in progress. The latest example came during Sunday afternoon's series finale against the Red Sox.

Biagini was chased in the fifth inning after he allowed four runs in a 5-3 loss to Boston on a special Mother's Day matinee at Rogers Centre. There were glimpses of progress and hints of the same pitfalls that plagued the former reliever late last season.

View Full Game Coverage

The outing included a two-run first inning, a one-run third with a pair of walks and an inability to pitch out of the fifth. There were also a pair of three-up, three-down innings, so it was a bit of a mixed bag. Perhaps that's to be expected for a guy who still hasn't had a full season of starting since 2015.

Video: BOS@TOR: Gibbons talks Biagini's start in 5-3 loss

"You just learn, every game, a little bit more about how you need to keep the team close and battle," said Biagini, who allowed four runs on four hits and three walks over 4 2/3 innings. "You have one of those games every once in awhile where you kind of cruise through. But most of them you have to stay tough, stay consistent. It's definitely a challenge to come up here, make a couple of starts, go down there make some starts, back and forth. Dealing with all of that is a great opportunity for me."

The Blue Jays will now have to determine whether Biagini showed enough in this outing to justify another start. A spot in the rotation became available on Friday when right-hander Marcus Stroman was placed on the disabled list with right shoulder fatigue. There is no immediate timetable for Stroman's return, but the expectation is that a replacement will be required for at least a couple more outings.

Video: BOS@TOR: Smoak rips 2-run double to right-center

Biagini got the assignment because he opened the year as Toronto's primary backup starter. He previously started two doubleheader nightcaps earlier this season, but the native of California is now 0-7 with a 6.56 ERA over his past 10 starts, dating back to last year. The subpar numbers have prompted some speculation that Biagini eventually will end up back in the bullpen while other pitchers like Sam Gaviglio and Deck McGuire -- who was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo on Sunday morning -- make their case for the coveted starting job.

Postgame, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons sidestepped a direct question about whether Biagini would get another start, but he offered some praise when asked about McGuire after Toronto's latest loss.

"We brought Deck up because we're banged up down in that bullpen," Gibbons said. "They've been used a lot, and if something happens, we need a starter type that can throw some length. Now, saying that, Deck has been pitching very well down in Triple-A. He'll get his shot, he is getting it right now. I can't predict the future. I don't know what's going to happen, but nobody is competing against each other like that."

Video: BOS@TOR: Martin smacks RBI single to left

Red Sox lefty Drew Pomeranz did not fare any better than Biagini, as he was chased in the fifth but departed with the lead intact. Pomeranz allowed three runs on five hits while striking out six, but five walks got him into frequent trouble and led to a short afternoon. The 29-year-old left with nobody out in the fifth inning, but the Red Sox's bullpen tossed five scoreless frames to close out the game.

Russell Martin finished 3-for-4 with an RBI in his second multi-hit game of the season and first since April 20. Josh Donaldson doubled as part of a two-hit afternoon while Justin Smoak finished 1-for-2 with a pair of walks, two RBIs and a double. Despite those strong performances at the plate, the Blue Jays scored four runs or fewer for the ninth time in their past 12 games. Toronto is a perfect 17-0 when scoring more than five runs, but the record drops to 4-20 when scoring four or fewer.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Bad send: The Blue Jays were trailing, 4-3, in the bottom of the seventh inning, when Martin hit a two-out double into the left-field corner. Yangervis Solarte got the wave around third base as he attempted to score all the way from first, but it wasn't close. Boston shortstop Xander Bogaerts received the throw from left fielder Andrew Benintendi and then made an easy throw home to get a diving Solarte by at least a couple of feet. Instead of runners on second and third, the inning came to an end, and that was as close as the Blue Jays would get.

Video: BOS@TOR: Benintendi, Bogaerts nab Solarte at home

"The third-base coach's job is the toughest job on the field, and Luis [Rivera] does a good job over there. He was trying to make something happen," Gibbons said. "When your team is struggling, you're trying to score some runs, those kind of things happen. But he does a great job."

The insurance run: Toronto appeared to have some momentum on its side later in the game, but an insurance run by the Red Sox in the top of the eighth quickly changed that. With runners on the corners and one out, Bogaerts hit a weak chopper back to the mound. Blue Jays reliever Tyler Clippard immediately thought about turning a double play, but he appeared to rush the play as he momentarily dropped the ball. That meant Clippard had to settle for the out at first -- instead of a double play -- and another run came in to score.

Video: BOS@TOR: Bogaerts' plates Benintendi on RBI groundout

HE SAID IT
"I think any chance to play at this level, in any capacity, is really good. Whether it's bullpen, starter or both. A lot of guys have done it and made good careers out of that. There are a lot of things I learned from last year, going back and forth. There were things that got exposed from transitioning during the middle of the year. Not only changing roles but using the wind-up, bringing that back into the equation. As much as I would like to always to do as well as anybody can do, it was a really good opportunity for me to learn that, and they have been nothing but fair to me." -- Biagini, when asked whether the Blue Jays have done his career a disservice after repeatedly moving him between a starter and reliever role last season and moving him up and down in the system this year

SOUND SMART
Blue Jays reliever John Axford extended his scoreless innings streak to 11 2/3 innings with 1 1/3 scoreless frames on Sunday afternoon. Axford entered play on Sunday with third-longest active streak among American League relievers.

UP NEXT
The Blue Jays will enjoy a day off on Monday before opening a two-game Interleague Play series against the Mets, with whom outfielder Curtis Granderson spent four seasons. First pitch is scheduled for Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. ET with lefty Jaime Garcia (2-2, 5.40 ERA) on the mound for Toronto. Garcia has not completed six innings since his first start of the year and command continues to be a concern, with five walks in his last outing vs. Seattle. New York will counter with right-hander Noah Syndergaard (2-1, 3.09 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, Joe Biagini, Russell Martin, Justin Smoak