TORONTO -- For the second consecutive night, the Blue Jays' normally reliable starting rotation struggled and Toronto found itself on the losing end of a 12-2 blowout against the Tampa Bay Rays.
After J.A. Happ took his first defeat in Monday's opener, it was Marcus Stroman's turn to lose his first on Tuesday, allowing seven runs on 13 hits -- both career highs -- over 5 2/3 innings.
The always-energetic Stroman struggled with his command from the opening inning, and he found himself battling to keep his team in the game. The 25-year-old has been Toronto's most consistent starter since returning from ACL surgery last September, and he found himself on the losing end of the ledger for the first time in 16 starts (including postseason).
"They did a good job of putting the ball in play," Stroman said about Tampa's approach against him. "I fell behind in some counts, and they did a good job on capitalizing when they needed to on timely hits. They definitely took advantage of me falling behind in counts and did some damage."
Known for his ability to induce ground balls -- Stroman's 62.3 percent ground-ball rate entering the night was tops among pitchers in the American League -- it was that same strength which bit the recent Duke university graduate on Tuesday. While Stroman did get nine ground-ball outs, he also gave up a majority of his hits on hard hit ground balls and low line drives, and he saw his eleven game unbeaten streak at home come to an end.
"That's part of the game, that's baseball," Stroman said about the frustration of the Rays' hitters finding gaps. "You really have to put it in perspective and know that, and do everything you can to wash the start whether it be good or bad, and focus the next four days preparing for the next one. I realize I'm going to have days like that. I never get discouraged regardless of the outing and never take my starts into the next one."
With Toronto's powerful offense scuffling in the first quarter of the season, the Blue Jays' rotation had provided reasons for optimism until its recent struggles, and the unit still leads the American League in innings pitched.
Although Toronto starters have now surrendered four earned runs in three straight games for the first time since last July and the club is mired in a season-high four-game losing streak, Toronto's Opening Day starter said the team's confidence has yet to waver.
"We're fine," Stroman said when asked about the team's recent struggles. "We're a confident group. The clubhouse hasn't changed one bit since the very beginning, so we're fine. We know what we're capable of and hopefully we get things rolling here."