Jays go­ing out with a whim­per

The Beacon Herald - - SPORTS - TERRY KOSHAN TORONTO SUN CANA­DIAN PRESS MICHAEL TRAIKOS POST­MEDIA NEWS

In the fi­nale of their sec­ond-last home stand of the reg­u­lar sea­son, the Blue Jays, as has been more com­mon than not, couldn’t gen­er­ate much of­fence and lost 2-1 to the Bal­ti­more Ori­oles on Wed­nes­day night.

The Jays were look­ing to win five in a row at home for the sec­ond time this year. In­stead, they were stymied by Bal­ti­more starter Kevin Gaus­man be­fore an an­nounced crowd of 31,714 at the Rogers Cen­tre.

Toronto, its play­off as­pi­ra­tions long gone, en­tered the game last in the Amer­i­can League in runs scored with 619.

Wasted was a strong start by Mar­cus Stro­man (11-8), who struck out seven in six in­nings, scat­ter­ing six hits and walk­ing three. Had Stro­man won for the 12th time this sea­son, it would have marked a ca­reer high.

The Ori­oles took a quick and dirty 2-0 lead in the top of the first in­ning.

Tim Beck­ham led off and hit a sharp grounder at third base­man Josh Don­ald­son. The lat­ter didn’t have trou­ble field­ing the ball, but his throw to Justin Smoak was high and wide, draw­ing Smoak off the bag. Don­ald­son was charged with his team-high 13th er­ror of the sea­son and Beck­ham was safe.

Manny Machado was next up and struck out, and Jonathan Schoop grounded out to Don­ald­son, mov­ing Beck­ham up.

With two out, Adam Jones dou­bled over the head of Teoscar Her­nan­dez in left field, bring­ing Beck­ham home.

Kevin Pil­lar gob­bles up just about ev­ery­thing hit his way in cen­tre field, but could not make a su­per­hu­man play when Trey Mancini tripled off the wall to score Jones.

Catcher Rus­sell Martin re­turned to the Jays lineup af­ter he was re­in­stated from the dis­abled list a day ear­lier fol­low­ing his re­cov­ery from a strained left oblique. Martin re­ceived a hearty round of ap­plause for his first at-bat, in the sec­ond in­ning, but wound up be­ing a non­fac­tor at the plate, go­ing 0-for-3.

Gaus­man (11-10) pitched seven in­nings, giv­ing up six hits and a walk and strik­ing out six. Zach Brit­ton pitched the ninth for his 14th save.

Af­ter spot­ting the vis­i­tors a tworun lead, the Jays got one run back in the third in­ning.

Her­nan­dez, hit­ting .313 in his pre­vi­ous nine games with the Jays, dou­bled to right field to lead off. Ryan Goins then sac­ri­ficed Her­nan­dez to third base.

Richard Urena, hot­ter than Her­nan­dez in the month of Septem­ber, dou­bled to score Her­nan­dez. Don­ald­son came up and beat out an in­field hit, but the in­ning ended when Smoak grounded into a dou­ble play.

The Jays, hit­ting a ma­jor-league low .224 with run­ners in scor­ing po­si­tion en­ter­ing the game, couldn’t score in the fourth in­ning de­spite hav­ing run­ners at sec­ond and third with one out.

Martin grounded out to short, and Her­nan­dez then flied out to cen­tre field.

In the sixth in­ning, Kendrys Mo­rales dou­bled off the wall in left field with two out but was stranded when Pil­lar struck out.

Stro­man wrig­gled out of a heap of trou­ble in the fourth in­ning when the Ori­oles loaded the bases with none out.

Mancini led off with a dou­ble and Stro­man walked the next two bat­ters, Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis. But Stro­man struck out Seth Smith be­fore get­ting Caleb Joseph to ground into a dou­ble play. As he walked off the field, Stro­man em­phat­i­cally pumped his fist and let out a joy­ful scream.

The Jays’ penul­ti­mate trip of the sea­son — a four-game se­ries in Min­nesota start­ing Thurs­day — will fea­ture a bat­tle with a Twins club hold­ing down the sec­ond wild-card spot in the Amer­i­can League. “I tip my hat over there, to what they are do­ing,” Jays man­ager John Gib­bons said. “Great job. They have some pop in that lineup. It’s a dif­fer­ent­look­ing team. They have some ath­letes, they can all run pretty good for the most part. I have been im­pressed. They have jug­gled quite a bit of pitch­ing around and they have hung tough.” … And of course, there’s the Cleve­land In­di­ans, win­ners of 21 in a row. The Jays have 16 games re­main­ing, and though none in­volve Cleve­land, Gib­bons wouldn’t have minded an­other shot at the In­di­ans. “Oh, gosh,” Gib­bons said. “It’s al­most a whole month (since the In­di­ans lost a game). Might be a good time to play them though be­cause the law of av­er­ages say … Pretty good, though.”

With train­ing camps open­ing around the league on Thurs­day, here are seven burn­ing ques­tions fac­ing the seven Cana­dian teams:

No one is an­tic­i­pat­ing that Smith will have to bat­tle Ed­die Lack for the No. 1 goal­tend­ing job. Then again, no one ex­pected Brian El­liott would tem­po­rar­ily lose the net to Chad John­son at this time last sea­son. If any­thing, the Flames will be look­ing for Smith, who was ac­quired in a trade from Ari­zona, to pro­vide as­sur­ances that he can re­bound from a tough sea­son last year and be the starter Cal­gary needs him to be. If he can’t, Lack might be more just the backup.

Play­ing on a line with McDavid turned Pat Ma­roon into a 27-goal scorer (he pre­vi­ously never had more than 12) and pro­pelled Leon Drai­saitl into the top-10 in scor­ing with 77 points. But with Drai­saitl get­ting a chance to cen­tre his own line, last year’s Art Ross Tro­phy win­ner is look­ing for a new run­ning mate. Will it be Ryan Strome, who was ac­quired by the Oil­ers in a trade with the Is­lan­ders? Fourthover­all pick Jesse Pulju­jarvi? Or can some­one, such as Jussi Joki­nen or Drake Cag­giula, win the most cov­eted spot in hockey.

When the Cana­di­ens traded their top de­fen­sive prospect to the Light­ning for Drouin, it heaped more pres­sure on a Que­bec-born for­ward who was fi­nally start­ing to find his game. That pres­sure was likely am­pli­fied in the last few days when head coach Claude Julien and gen­eral man­ager Marc Bergevin made it clear that Drouin — and not Alex Galchenyuk — would open train­ing camp at cen­tre. For­get that Drouin is only 22 and still de­vel­op­ing.

See | B4

NATHAN DENETTE/THE

Toronto Blue Jays start­ing pitcher Mar­cus Stro­man, right, talks on the mound with catcher Rus­sell Martin and pitch­ing coach Pete Walker dur­ing fourth in­ning AL base­ball ac­tion against the Bal­ti­more Ori­oles in Toronto on Wed­nes­day.

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