Defensive woes continue in loss vs. Rays

Defensive woes continue in loss vs. Rays

Defensive woes continue in loss vs. Rays
TORONTO -- For the second consecutive game it was a lack of execution on defense that proved to be the Blue Jays' biggest downfall.

Toronto committed four errors which contributed to a pair of unearned runs and the club's third straight loss.

Henderson Alvarez had another strong outing, but that was of little consolation during a three-run seventh inning that included multiple defensive miscues en route to Toronto's 4-3 loss to the Rays on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre.

"We're well aware of the situations that are taking place on the field," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "But the physical things, they're going to happen, and we're in a little bit of a rut in terms of the physical errors that are being made."

On Monday night, the Blue Jays made two errors and allowed a total of five unearned runs. Twenty-four hours later, the club officially doubled its total of mistakes on the field and likely could have even been charged with a couple more.

Things were sailing along smoothly until the seventh inning as Toronto entered with a 3-1 lead, but things quickly fell apart from that point on. The first blow occurred when Tampa's Sean Rodriguez led off the frame with a solo home run on a 1-1 pitch from Alvarez to cut the lead to one.

Two batters later, the defensive miscues began. With one on and nobody out, shortstop Yunel Escobar couldn't handle a chopper towards the left side of the infield. Instead of a bases-clearing double play, the inning continued with a runner in scoring position and Alvarez now faced with a jam.

During the next play, Rajai Davis misplayed a single to left field that easily allowed Will Rhymes to score all the way from second. But the trouble didn't end there, and yet another miscue came with the very next batter.

Ben Zobrist hit a hard liner towards second and Kelly Johnson attempted to make a leaping catch. He got plenty of glove on the ball, but was still unable to make the play, and while Johnson wasn't charged with an error, it still marked the third consecutive defensive mistake.

A total of three runs came across to score on three hits and two errors. Toronto entered the game ranked second-worst among teams in the American League in errors (33) and fielding percentage (.977). Those numbers only got worse on Tuesday night and the club has now committed 15 errors in its past 10 games.

"If it's a slump or not, we've given a couple of opportunities to the opposition," Farrell said. "Guys are well aware of what the situation is and what is to be executed. That's not a matter of rehearsal, it's a matter of letting them play and playing the game with the situation that's unfolding in front of us."

Alvarez was taken out of the game partway through that problematic seventh inning. He surrendered all four runs, two earned, on 10 hits without issuing a walk in 6 2/3 innings.

The 22-year-old has now recorded a quality start in all but one of his eight outings this season, yet only has three wins to show for his efforts.

"Really, an interesting game both sides," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Their pitcher is really good. That kid is going to be really good -- he already is really good."

All of Toronto's offense occurred in the third inning off Rays starter David Price. With two outs, Jose Bautista singled up the middle to score Davis and give the Blue Jays an early 1-0 lead. Edwin Encarnacion then followed with a two-run homer over the wall in left-center field for his 12th of the season.

Price then settled down and allowed just one additional hit through his seven innings of work. He was charged with all three runs on six hits while striking out six and is now 11-2 with a 2.13 ERA in 14 career games against the Blue Jays.

The Blue Jays' record drops to 1-4 over their past five games and have managed to average just three runs per contest over that span. Normally, the lack of execution on offense would be the main topic of conversation following such a stretch, but with the relatively easy plays not being made in the field, it clearly has taken a backseat to the club's recent woes on defense.

"It seems like they made more plays than we did," Davis said. "Unfortunately we didn't make the routine plays that could have helped us get out of some jams. They made more plays than us."

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.