Blue Jays fall short after Alvarez's shaky start

Blue Jays fall short after Alvarez's shaky start

Blue Jays fall short after Alvarez's shaky start
MILWAUKEE -- Before Monday night's game in Milwaukee, Blue Jays manager John Farrell said the decisions regarding his starting pitchers for Tuesday and Wednesday depended on what Henderson Alvarez gave him against the Brewers.

As it turned out, Alvarez was able to go just four innings while allowing 11 hits and six runs, forcing Farrell to go to his bullpen early in a 7-6 loss. And with three starters on the disabled list, it wasn't the outing Farrell was hoping for.

"We've got to get him straightened out," Farrell said. "Given where our pitching is at, we need innings from the guys that have been here from the start of the year in the rotation. This is a tough remedy right now, asking so much of our bullpen every night."

After going to his bullpen for five innings on Monday, Farrell said Tuesday's starter will be Jesse Chavez from Triple-A Las Vegas. Wednesday, though, is still up in the air, especially with the work put in by the Toronto relievers.

Alvarez's struggles started right away in the first inning, as two straight singles and a walk by Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez loaded the bases. Two batters later, second baseman Rickie Weeks capitalized on the opportunity with a two-RBI single.

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Matters became worse in the second inning, when the Milwaukee bats grinded out four more runs -- two of which came with two outs -- to take a 6-1 lead. Alvarez settled in and threw two scoreless innings to end his night, but his inability to keep the ball down hurt him early on, Farrell said.

Alvarez, who is 0-4 since his last win on May 10, said he doesn't know why he has had such a difficult time keeping the ball low in the strike zone, but he said he hasn't lost his confidence.

"I know I haven't pitched up to my capabilities," Alvarez said through an interpreter. "But a few outings have been good, a few outings have been bad, that's just part of the game."

Despite Alvarez's struggles, though, Toronto's offense and a strong performance from the bullpen Farrell didn't want to overextend kept Monday's game interesting.

On the second pitch of the night, Blue Jays third baseman and former Brewers prospect Brett Lawrie announced his presence at Miller Park -- for the first time as a Major Leaguer -- with a leadoff home run off Milwaukee starter Randy Wolf. After the Brewers got that run back and then some, Lawrie scored for the second time when first baseman Edwin Encarnacion grounded into a double play with the bases loaded in the top of the third to cut the Milwaukee lead to four runs.

Following a sixth-inning solo shot by Encarnacion, the game changed dramatically in the seventh -- twice.

With two runners on base in the top half of the inning, right fielder Jose Bautista crushed a three-run homer -- his 20th of the season -- off of Brewers reliever Kameron Loe to tie the game at six. Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said it wasn't the homer that left him frustrated, rather the two-out walk that allowed it to happen.

"You don't want to see Bautista come up there with two guys on base, not when you are three runs ahead," Roenicke said. "[Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus], we cannot walk him. I'm not saying he's an easy out, but we can't walk him. We need to make him get a hit to get on base."

Unfortunately for the Blue Jays, the Brewers responded quickly for the second time of the night, but not without some controversy.

Leading off the bottom of the seventh, Ramirez hit a long fly ball that bounced off the wall and was ruled foul down the left-field line. But after Roenicke came out to talk to the umpires, the play was reviewed and eventually ruled a home run off of righty Robert Coello to put the Brewers back on top, 7-6.

Farrell had yet to see a replay after the game, but he had no objections to what turned out to be the game-winner. And Lawrie said he couldn't tell if it was the right or wrong call from his vantage point at third base.

"From my angle, it was just weird because the way the wall kind of sticks out and the way the bottom of the pad kind of sticks out, it just could have gone either way," he said.

Still, despite the final result, Farrell said he was happy with the resilience of his team and pleased with an offense that produced six runs on 10 hits and never gave up. Lawrie, who went 2-for-5 with three runs scored against his former organization, also thought the Blue Jays performed well enough to win on Monday night.

"We put up runs, just they swung the bats well, too," he said. "When that happens, it becomes a dogfight, and unfortunately for us tonight, we lost."

Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.