LONG BALL

Blue Jays look rusty af­ter lay­off in blowout loss ... Vlad Jr. hits a double-double ... Ryu hop­ing hair­cut gets him back on track ... Soroka will be missed af­ter in­jury

The Province - - SPORTS - Rob Longley’s news and notes on the Jays rlon­g­ley@postmedia.com Twit­ter: lon­g­ley­sun­sport

At­lanta man­ager Brian

Snitker cer­tainly had no in­ten­tion of tempt­ing the COVID-19 gods on Wed­nes­day night, but the man had a point.

The Braves were chug­ging along in good form prior to the opener of a three-game se­ries against the Blue Jays (mi­nus the loss of Cana­dian star Mike Soroka the night be­fore, of course) but sig­nif­i­cantly, avoid­ing the may­hem touch­ing down on through­out base­ball.

The virus that has dis­rupted so many teams — in­clud­ing the Jays who were idle for four days prior to Wed­nes­day’s 10-1 blowout loss to the reign­ing NL East champs — has so far by­passed the Braves.

“We’re very for­tu­nate to have played every game,” Snitker said on a Zoom call prior to his team im­prov­ing to 8-4. “We haven’t had a lay­off. I hope we con­tinue to do that.

“It’s hard to ramp these guys up, get it go­ing, then shut it down again.”

Harder yet for pitch­ers, which brings us to the ac­tion at Truist Park, where Snitker’s words were prophetic and the Braves used the long ball to chase Jays starter Matt Shoe­maker af­ter just 4.2 in­nings. The lop­sided night was by far the Jays’ worst loss of the sea­son, com­ing af­ter spend­ing the week­end in Wash­ing­ton af­ter a three-game se­ries against the Phillies was post­poned.

Shoe­maker wasn’t as sharp as we’ve seen in any of his starts with the Jays, giv­ing up as many earned runs (six) as he had in his six pre­vi­ous starts com­bined with the team. The three homers were as many as he sur­ren­dered in his 28.2 in­nings with the Jays in 2019, a promis­ing start de­railed by a sea­son-end­ing knee in­jury.

So what gives?

The stop-and-start 2020 sea­son has been hell on pitch­ers thus far. From the shut­down in Fe­bru­ary, to the ab­bre­vi­ated sum­mer camp, to an­other de­lay be­cause of post­pone­ments, it hasn’t been easy.

“I can only imag­ine what their arms are go­ing through,” said Jays cen­tre fielder Ran­dal

Grichuk, who re­turned to the lineup on Wed­nes­day af­ter miss­ing time with a mild back in­jury. “From a pitch­ing stand­point, it’s show­ing.”

Fac­ing a tough Braves lineup, Shoe­maker wasn’t at his best, al­low­ing three home runs in a game for the first time since 2015 and suf­fer­ing his first loss in seven starts with the team. With the Jays of­fence list­less as well, the vis­i­tors fell to 3-5 and are now on a sea­son-long three-game los­ing streak.

Team tur­moil may still be­lieve in it­self, but one-sided losses like the lat­est are more wor­ri­some than the tight con­tests ear­lier on.

GAME ON

Jays man­ager Char­lie Mon­toyo de­cided to shake up his bat­ting or­der on Tues­day to take ad­van­tage of a red-hot

Teoscar Her­nan­dez by mov­ing him to third while drop­ping Vlad Guer­rero Jr. to fifth. So nat­u­rally, it was a double-double night for Vlad Jr., who had his first two dou­bles and first two-hit game of the sea­son ... Af­ter solo homers from Matt Adams and

Tyler Flow­ers in the sec­ond in­ning, the big dam­age for the Braves came when Austin

Ri­ley took Shoe­maker deep for a three-run shot in the fifth to break it open ... The Jays fi­nally got on the board in the vis­i­tor’s half of fifth, an in­ning in which they should have done more dam­age. A lead­off double down the third-base line by Guer­rero was fol­lowed by a Grichuk walk. Meek pop ups by Danny Jansen and

Brandon Drury wa­tered down the threat, how­ever, and the Jays set­tled for one run on an An­thony Al­ford RBI sin­gle ... Though the game was out of hand by the time he came in,

An­thony Kay was im­pres­sive, go­ing two score­less in­nings for the Jays with­out al­low­ing a hit ... The same could not be same for Wilmer Font, who al­lowed four runs on five hits in just a third of an in­ning.

RYU READY TO ROLL

So what did Hyun-Jin Ryu do af­ter his sec­ond of two starts with the Blue Jays that wasn’t up to his ex­act­ing stan­dards? The South Korean south­paw opted for a hair­cut.

“The last two games weren’t too good so it’s a new be­gin­ning,” Ryu said through in­ter­preter Bryan Lee on a Zoom call prior to Tues­day’s game.

Af­ter al­low­ing five runs against the Na­tion­als last week, Ryu will get right back at it on Wed­nes­day, jump­ing ahead in the ro­ta­tion to keep him on a nor­mal rest pat­tern.

“It was some­thing that the team told me to do and some­thing I whole heart­edly agreed with be­cause I think the team wanted to get me back on the mound and show what I can do,” Ryu said. “It’s our job to get out there and per­form and ad­just.”

Ryu is a self-ad­mit­ted crea­ture of habit and said that even with his strug­gles, he didn’t al­ter his rou­tine.

“De­spite the fact the sea­son didn’t start the way I wanted, I de­cided to main­tain the rou­tine that has made me suc­cess­ful to this point,” Ryu said.

SOROKA LOSS STINGS

When Cal­gary’s Soroka went down hard in pain with a sea­son-end­ing Achilles heel in­jury on Mon­day, the Braves lost not only the ace of their start­ing ro­ta­tion, but one of the more pop­u­lar play­ers in the club­house.

The re­ac­tion cer­tainly speaks to the pop­u­lar­ity of the just-turned-23-year-old hurler who is among the most ex­cit­ing Cana­dian-born big lea­guers in re­cent years.

“When you lose, in my mind, one of the top pitch­ing arms in the en­tire game for the whole sea­son, it’s pretty tough,” At­lanta first base­man

Fred­die Free­man said. “For some­one so bright and so de­ter­mined to be great at this game, it just knocks you off the 2020 sea­son. We all know he’s go­ing to come back stronger and bet­ter.”

It was clear that the Braves were still shaken up by the loss of Soroka, who was emerg­ing as one of the bright young pitch­ing stars in the Na­tional League.

“No­body’s go­ing to feel sorry for you,” Snitker said. “We move on and give the op­por­tu­nity to some­body else.”

AROUND THE BASES

Doesn’t sound like Grichuk is soft­en­ing his view on hav­ing Buf­falo’s Sahlen Field as the team’s home start­ing next week. “Ob­vi­ously just some­thing we’ve got to live with,” said Grichuk, who had pre­vi­ously called Buf­falo “the worst case” op­tion for the team. “They’re work­ing hard at do­ing some ad­just­ments to the fa­cil­ity. But ob­vi­ously you want to be in a ma­jor league sta­dium. But we’re go­ing to make do with it.”

USA TO­DAY SPORTS

At­lanta Braves star Ron­ald Acuna Jr. dives into home safely against Toronto Blue Jays catcher Danny Jansen dur­ing Tues­day night’s 10-1 Braves vic­tory in At­lanta.

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