One rough inning sinks Morrow, Blue Jays

One rough inning sinks Morrow, Blue Jays

One rough inning sinks Morrow, Blue Jays
TORONTO -- Defense has been one of the Blue Jays' biggest strengths this season, but for at least one game, it turned into a weakness.

Adam Lind committed a pair of errors at first base and an ill-timed wild pitch ultimately led to the club's undoing on Monday night.

Brandon Morrow had a rough fifth inning that saw six runs cross the plate -- five unearned -- in Toronto's 7-1 lopsided loss to the Rays in front of 15,289 fans at Rogers Centre.

"On a night when we couldn't get much started offensively, the two extra outs in the fifth inning loomed large," said manager John Farrell, whose club recorded just four hits.

"It gives them the ability to put six on the board and the way things were going tonight, that was going to be a little bit too much to overcome."

Even though Morrow did not appear to have his typical overpowering velocity, he managed to maneuver his way through the early stages. Morrow got through the first four innings without allowing a hit, but the wheels began to fall off in the following frame.

Will Rhymes broke up the no-hit bid with a double to lead off the fifth and came around to score on an RBI single by Elliot Johnson. Morrow then appeared as though he would get through the rest of the inning unscathed, but didn't receive a lot of support in the field.

With two on and two out, Morrow induced a ground ball toward first base off the bat of Rays No. 3 hitter Matt Joyce. Lind attempted to make a diving play, but the ball bounced off his glove and Kelly Johnson's throw to first was deemed late by first-base umpire Bill Miller.

Morrow argued to no avail and Lind was charged with an error as Ben Zobrist came around to score. That was Lind's second error of the game and after committing four all of last season he already has five in 2012.

The second opportunity to get out of the inning came with the very next batter. Morrow struck out Carlos Pena on a ball in the dirt, only to see it bounce away from catcher J.P. Arencibia. Luke Scott and Sean Rodriguez followed with a pair of RBIs each to cap the six-run inning that required Morrow to throw 28 pitches and saw 10 Rays hitters come to the plate.

"That was a tough fifth," Morrow said. "I made some pitches to get out of it and then they went out and got some good fastballs that were a touch off the plate.

"They weren't bad pitches. I think they were both a touch off the plate, definitely away. So they just did a good job and stayed with them."

The 27-year-old Morrow allowed all six runs -- one earned -- on four hits and four walks with seven strikes. That snapped his winning streak at four games and he has now allowed 12 runs in 11 innings against Tampa Bay this season.

Morrow has now walked eight in his past two outings. It's a problem that seems to be affecting the entire rotation this month.

"We've issued far too many walks," Farrell said. "Coming off the last series in which we issued 25 over the four days in Minnesota followed up by tonight.

"I didn't think Brandon had the power to his stuff that he typically has had, particularly over this last four-start stretch for him. Not only has he been powerful, he also has had very good command, and when you issue that many walks we're creating issues for ourselves to have to battle through and pitch around."

Rays starter Jeff Niemann was forced to leave after the first because of a fractured bone in his right leg, but that did little to help out Toronto's stagnant offense.

The Blue Jays' sole run came in the second on an RBI single by Kelly Johnson, who led the club with a pair of hits. Toronto has averaged just three runs over its past four games and has a 1-3 record over that span.

"To win a game like that is unusual, to lose your starting pitcher that early," Rays manager Joe Maddon said of Niemann, who is expected to miss four to six weeks. "I was really impressed with our effort tonight; I thought it was excellent."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.