Blue Jays split road trip, but it ends with disappointment
SEATTLE -- The Blue Jays' West Coast trip, which began with such promise, ended in disappointment with a 6-5 loss to the Mariners on Sunday afternoon as the cons off-set any of the pros from the last six days.
Toronto, which has struggled on the road all season, went 3-3 with stops in Oakland and Seattle. On the surface, that doesn't sound too bad, but things appear a lot worse when the losses are examined a little more closely.
There was the game vs. Oakland when they had the bases loaded in the ninth inning against A's closer Tyler Clippard, but came away with just one run. In Seattle, there was an early lead vs Felix Hernandez that wasn't capitalized on. And even more glaring there were a series of mistakes in the series finale that essentially gave the game away.
"Yeah, especially after today," a frustrated John Gibbons said when asked if this road trip would go down as a disappointment. "... Time's not on our side, we're chasing some pretty good teams. The baseball gods remind you sometimes in this business."
As the losses continue to mound, so too does the deficit in the American League East. The Yankees have won eight of their last 10 games to take a 6 1/2 game lead over the second-place Blue Jays. Toronto, on the other hand, is 5-5 over its last 10 to match a .500 record on the season (50-50).
The one positive throughout all of this is that the second Wild Card spot remains up for grabs. Minnesota currently has a three-game lead, but the most encouraging thing for the Blue Jays is that there's no one else between those teams in the standings. In a lot of ways, that allows Toronto an opportunity to control its own fate instead of having to leap frog four or five different teams.
The level of frustration from a lot of the Toronto fanbase has reached palpable proportions, but inside the clubhouse there seem to be a lot of calm heads. If the players are reeling, they're doing a good job of hiding it.
"Every game is important right now, and you need to try to find a way to win," third baseman Josh Donaldson said. "There have been times where we have, and there have been times when we haven't. Today was one of them."
Toronto's miscues on Sunday afternoon included running into a triple play in the fourth inning, an error by Donaldson at third and a bullpen that once against wasn't able to protect a two-run lead from the seventh inning on. There have been far too many games this year that have swung on a mistake, and the lack of "crisp baseball" is concerning.
But there's nothing the Blue Jays can do about it now but try to move on, according to those within the clubhouse walls.
"I don't think today was a very crisp game, all around, but you're going to have games like that, where certain aspects of it aren't on top of its game," left-hander Mark Buehrle said. "3-3 road trip isn't the best we could have asked for, but it's better than 2-4, so we have to take the positives out of that."