Toronto Star

Jays close Seattle series with tough loss

- Richard Griffin

SEATTLE— The second day of the Blue Jays’ new-look bullpen, bolstered by the arrival of Aaron Sanchez, had to be evaluated with mixed reviews on Sunday as the Jays lost 6-5 to the Mariners at Safeco Field.

The Jays have completed the West Coast trip with a 3-3 record, continuing to lose ground to the firstplace Yankees. The M’s scored the winning run against the bullpen in the 10th on a solo home run by Franklin Gutierrez against lefthander Aaron Loup, who continues to struggle.

“I don’t know what it was or where it was but it wasn’t good, I’ll tell you that,” Gibbons said of Loup’s final pitch. “Frustratin­g, tough game. We did some things early. We also played like crap there a few times.”

Up until now, Loup continues to be trusted in important lefty-specialist game situations. However, since June 20, in his past 15 appearance­s, Loup is 0-2 with two blown saves and a 9.00 ERA. He has allowed 16 hits, three walks, two hit batters and a pair of homers in nine innings.

Toronto starter Mark Buehrle had made nine starts in a row of at least six innings and two or fewer earned runs. In the third inning, he walked Gutierrez, the first base-on-balls he had issued since June 26, facing 129 batters over that stretch. The last walk was to Elvis Andrus. In that third inning, Buehrle allowed two runs on five hits and one walk. He fanned Mark Trumbo to end it. His record remains at 11-5.

“I didn’t feel like it was the best game I had,” Buehrle said. “Missing some locations, I got away with a lot of stuff. I’ve had some balls bounce my way and some luck on my side for the last month and a half. They’re putting the balls in play and when the ball finds holes like that you can’t do anything about it.”

If the Jays are going to have any chance to contend in the AL East they need their best players to step up in twos and threes every night and lead. There was not enough of that on Sunday.

In the first inning, Josh Donaldson absolutely crushed a Taijuan Walker fastball off the railing of a fan staircase beyond the Jays’ bullpen for his 24th homer of the season. He added a sacrifice fly in the second, but in the ninth with runners at the corners in a tie game, he checked his swing and grounded out to first base to end the inning. Frustratio­n.

“I felt like we played well at times and I felt like we probably didn’t play as well as we should have,” Donaldson said. “Today we made a few mental mistakes and some physical mistakes.”

One of the mental mistakes that after the game still stuck in Gibbons’ craw as torpedoing a potentiall­y big inning was his team running into an unnecessar­y triple play in the fourth. With runners on first and third, Ryan Goins grounded weakly to first baseman Mark Trumbo, who retreated to the bag. Ezequiel Carrera held his ground at third while Kevin Pillar stopped between first and second, looking for a rundown. The bottom line is there was always going to be two outs.

Trumbo flipped the ball to shortstop Brad Miller, who kept an eye on Carrera as he ran Pillar back to first. When Carrera strayed too far, Miller ran across the diamond right at him. As Carrera broke for home, Miller flipped the ball to catcher Mike Zunino. Pillar rounded second and cruised into third. But instead of giving himself up, Carrera went back to third where it became his bag over the occupying Pillar. Zunino tagged both runners, then Carrera came off the bag and was tagged for the triple play.

“We had a chance for possibly a big inning right there,” Gibbons lamented. “We had the right guys starting to come up. That’s how you lose.”

The Jays’ 3-3 road trip wasn’t that bad but they have fallen back to .500, which isn’t that good.

“Every game’s important right now,” Donaldson said. “You need to try and find a way to win. At the end of the day we had a chance to win and we just weren’t able to do it. We haven’t played particular­ly well on the road at all this year. To come away .500 and get back to the Rogers Centre, hopefully we’ll start playing pretty well.”

Even if starting help is on the way, the team that’s here needs to step up.

 ?? OTTO GREULE JR/GETTY IMAGES ?? The Mariners’ Franklin Gutierrez, No. 30, is greeted at home plate after nailing the walkoff homer that beat the Jays 6-5 on Sunday in Seattle.
OTTO GREULE JR/GETTY IMAGES The Mariners’ Franklin Gutierrez, No. 30, is greeted at home plate after nailing the walkoff homer that beat the Jays 6-5 on Sunday in Seattle.
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