TORONTO -- Ryan Borucki has been everything the Blue Jays could have hoped for and more since he joined their starting rotation earlier this month, but he still doesn't have much to show for it.Borucki limited the Twins to a pair of unearned runs over six innings, but it wasn't
TORONTO -- Ryan Borucki has been everything the Blue Jays could have hoped for and more since he joined their starting rotation earlier this month, but he still doesn't have much to show for it.
Borucki limited the Twins to a pair of unearned runs over six innings, but it wasn't enough to avoid the 5-0 loss on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre. The 24-year-old saw his winless streak reach five outings, despite the fact that all but one of those were quality starts.
The Toronto left-hander finished Tuesday's outing with just two strikeouts, but he still has the fourth-most by a Blue Jays rookie through their first five games. Borucki has 23 strikeouts over 29 innings, which trails only Marc Rzepczynski, Jerry Garvin and Kyle Drabek for the most on the Blue Jays' all-time list. Borucki's 2.79 ERA also ranks 10th all-time by a Blue Jays pitcher through five starts.
"When I came up here from the beginning, I was pitching pretty well in Triple-A, and I had a lot of confidence," Borucki said. "Obviously at a new level, you don't really know what your stuff is going to play like, and after the first outing, I just kind of went from there. After that first one, I've just been riding on confidence so far."
Borucki deserved a much better fate in several of his previous outings, but that was especially true against Minnesota. He retired the first 10 batters he faced and then got out of jams in the fourth and fifth innings, inducing a double play to escape the latter. The problems Borucki ran into during the top of the sixth were not of his own making.
Teoscar Hernandez opened the sixth by dropping a routine fly ball hit to left field by Joe Mauer. Instead of one out with nobody on, Borucki was forced to contend with a man on second and nobody out. Mauer later came around to score on a sacrifice fly to center, and the Twins tacked on another unearned run when Eduardo Escobar and Robbie Grossman hit a pair of back-to-back doubles.
It was the one situation that Borucki could not escape, but outside of that, he continues to impress Blue Jays manager John Gibbons with his ability to navigate his way through some tricky spots.
"He has done that many times since he has come up," Gibbons said. "He's had his back against the wall a few times, guys on base and he can roll that ground ball, get a strikeout or some kind of out. He has shown me a lot. I think he has shown everybody that. He has great poise, he has great command, and he knows what he's doing."
Borucki might still be searching for his first big league win, but the rest of his resume has started to look pretty good. He has held the Astros, Yankees, Tigers and Twins to two earned runs or fewer, and his lone regrettable outing came in a seven-run (four-earned) performance just before the All-Star break against the Red Sox. Aside from that outing, he has lived up to the billing as the Blue Jays' No. 8 prospect as ranked by MLB Pipeline and a guy who posted a 3.27 ERA in Triple-A Buffalo.
In Borucki's three starts against Houston, New York and Detroit, the Blue Jays scored a combined three runs, and the lack of support was an issue again vs. the Twins. Minnesota right-hander Jose Berrios limited the Blue Jays to four hits and a walk while striking out nine over seven innings. Rookie infielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was the only player in the Blue Jays' lineup with multiple hits, while the club finished 1-for-3 with runners in scoring position and left four men on base.
"After having 10 days off, I filled the zone up with strikes and got a lot of ground balls and weak contact," Borucki said. "Whenever you get that and keep your team in the game, those are all the positives you really need. That's what my job is."
The Blue Jays showcased a couple of their veteran relievers to mixed results on Tuesday night. Right-hander John Axford started off strong by recording a three-up, three-down seventh inning on three consecutive ground balls, but his eighth inning did not go nearly as well.
Axford allowed the first two batters in the eighth to reach base and then served up a three-run homer to Escobar as the Twins put the game out of reach. The Blue Jays have been shopping Axford as a middle reliever of value to a contending team, but his struggles vs. Minnesota won't be doing the Blue Jays any favors.
The night went better for Seunghwan Oh, who retired all three batters he faced in the ninth. Oh is shaping up as Toronto's second-best trade asset, behind J.A. Happ, in the days leading up the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Oh, who has a club option for 2019 valued at $2.5 million with a $250,000 buyout, has an impressive 2.68 ERA through 48 appearances this season. There haven't really been any credible reports linking Oh to a specific team yet, but that may change in the near future with the Deadline a week away. It's good timing for the Blue Jays because Oh has allowed just one run this month.
Gurriel went 2-for-4, and he now has multiple hits in each of his last seven games. That is tied with Al Woods (1977) for the longest streak by a rookie in franchise history.
HE SAID IT
"When you struggle a little bit, it always turns into a confidence thing. That's always a big part of it. He's had a tough time out there lately, and it gets to the point -- not just him but anybody when you're a young kid -- you don't even want the ball hit to you, and that's never a good feeling. He'll keep working on it. He's a good athlete, there's no reason he shouldn't be a good outfielder." -- Gibbons, on Hernandez's error in the sixth inning
The Blue Jays will close out their three-game series against the Twins when right-hander Sam Gaviglio (2-3, 4.59 ERA) takes the mound on Wednesday afternoon, with first pitch scheduled for 4:07 p.m. ET at Rogers Centre. Gaviglio is coming off one of his better starts of the season after he allowed four runs over 7 2/3 innings vs. the Orioles. The run total might seem high, but two runs scored in the eighth, Gaviglio's final inning. He settled for a no-decision after the O's rallied against the 'pen before Toronto won in the 10th. Minnesota is set to counter with Ervin Santana, who will be making his season debut.
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.