Jays bats typically silent in sleepy lossThe Jays scoring drought continued in Tampa Bay last night as James Shields pitched brilliantly for the 2nd game in a row, allowing 3 hits and 1 walk over 8 innings. The lone run was a Colby Rasmus blast to open the top of the 4th giving the Jays a glimmer of hope.
JA Happ simply was as expected, not good, giving up 4 runs over 7 hits in 4.1 innings. The Rays scored one run in the second on a single-double combination, two runs in the 3rd in a single-double-sacfly-sacfly combination, and a run in the 5th on a double-double combination.
Happ threw 82 pitches in what we knew was going to be a short effort (since his arm really wasn't ready for a 100+ pitch set) but he walked only 1.
There was a couple of firsts in the game (and I'm not talking about a delay-of-game call by a soccer referee): Adeiny Hechavarria got his first hit in his 8th plate appearance, a solid single to center.
And the Jays got to see the start of 24 year old Chad Jenkin's career in the majors. Jenkins, promoted from AA over the weekend, went 3 innings, recording 2 singles and 2 strikeouts. He looks very good on the mound, with a 90-92 mph fastball and a 82-84 mph slider. Drafted by the Jays in the 1st round of the MLB June Ameteur draft in 2009, the starter has gradually moved up the ranks. This year at AA, he posted a 4.96 ERA and a 1.536 WHIP over 20 starts for the Fisher Cats. Likely his role on the team will be long relief with Brad Lincoln. I wouldn't be surprised however if we saw a start from him before the end of the season, perhaps when Alvarez is taken off the starting rotation for innings.
Last night's loss, while not unexpected, was disappointing. James Shields was outstanding last night, and the Jays just did not bring it to the plate. It is very difficult to score without baserunners. And with such a mediocre start by Happ, only a decent offense can overcome that deficit. Tampa is in the hunt and has excellent pitching to back them up. The Jays have terrible starting pitching and with 4 of their best hitters out of the line up, terrible hitting. The only way you are going to win games with the combination of the two is luck and steps up in terms of performance.
Tonight's matchup hopefully will be a better one for the Jays. Carlos Villanueva, back from personal leave, will take the mound tonight against Alex Cobb.