Bullpen falters as Blue Jays drop finale to Halos

Bullpen falters as Blue Jays drop finale to Halos

Bullpen falters as Blue Jays drop finale to Halos
TORONTO -- After a slew of injuries decimated the Blue Jays' starting rotation, a patchwork staff that was created in the aftermath has struggled to hold it together.

But that wasn't the case on Sunday against the Angels, as it was instead a bullpen that has been leaned on heavily this year that spoiled a Toronto comeback.

The Blue Jays rallied to tie the game, but the bullpen surrendered seven runs, including three from Francisco Cordero, who served up the go-ahead shot to Mike Trout as part of two eighth-inning home runs in a 10-6 loss in front of 34,853 who came to ring in Canada Day at Rogers Centre.

"It was one of those days -- you have to do better than that," Cordero said. "You have a situation where your team is fighting, they came back to tie the game in the seventh inning.

"I have to do a better job than that. I have to get people out and give my teammates a chance to win the game."

After J.P. Arencibia drilled a first-pitch offering from Angels reliever Jason Isringhausen into the seats in left for his 11th homer of the season to tie the game at 3 in the seventh, Cordero quickly gave it back in the following frame.

The veteran reliever surrendered a leadoff homer to rookie phenom Trout, and after Albert Pujols hit a one-out single, Mark Trumbo delivered a blow of his own.

Trumbo rocked a 1-1 fastball to left field to put the Angels ahead, 6-3, and chase Cordero from the game. As Blue Jays manager John Farrell came out to remove Cordero, the fans showed their impatience with the struggling reliever and loudly booed him off the field. Cordero lasted just 1/3 of an inning, allowing three runs on four hits, including three for extra bases.

Although Cordero was coming off his strongest month of the season after posting a 1.59 ERA in June, the 37-year-old has been roughed up during his first year in Toronto. His ERA now stands at 5.29, and his WHIP is 1.76.

Farrell said the decision to use Cordero in the high-pressure situation was made because lefty Darren Oliver and righty Jason Frasor were unavailable due to heavy workloads.

The entire bullpen has experienced a high-usage rate this season, as Toronto relievers entered the contest having thrown the fourth-most innings in the American League, while sporting the second-worst ERA.

Cordero was replaced by Jesse Chavez, who proceeded to allow four runs -- two earned -- that increased Los Angeles' lead to 10-3, before handing the ball over to Scott Richmond.

The late-inning collapse spoiled what was another impressive outing from left-hander Aaron Laffey.

Laffey strung together his second consecutive quality start, but walked away with the no-decision after lasting six innings and issuing three runs -- two earned -- on four hits. He kept the Blue Jays in the game, and his only real blemish was a two-run homer to Alberto Callaspo in the fifth that snapped a streak of 15 straight innings without allowing an earned run.

"I'm in a pretty good groove right now," said Laffey, who struck out four, including Pujols twice. "Just kind of hitting stride right now, and even when I'm behind in the count, I'm able to get back into the count by throwing quality pitches."

Laffey left after 93 pitches, down 3-0, and that's when the game got interesting.

Angels starter C.J. Wilson started off the sixth inning by walking Omar Vizquel, allowing a single to Brett Lawrie and then walking Colby Rasmus to load the bases for All-Star Jose Bautista.

Bautista hit an 0-1 offering from Wilson that Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick mishandled, and the ball rolled into the outfield, which allowed Vizquel to come around to score.

Lawrie rounded third on the play but didn't initially break for home as Kendrick recovered the ball and lobbed it into shortstop Erick Aybar. Then Lawrie decided to make his move to the plate and ended up barreling into Angels catcher John Hester, who had to reach high and to his left to catch Aybar's throw.

The collision put Hester, who caught the ball and still hung on, to the ground, but home-plate umpire James Hoye ruled Lawrie safe, which cut the Angels' lead to 3-2. After getting up from the ground, Lawrie ran back to touch home again. At that point, Angels manager Mike Scioscia was already running out of the dugout to argue. After a lengthy argument with Hoye -- his second of the day -- Scioscia was ejected.

"I think that's clean," Scioscia said of the play. "Lawrie went after him because he's obviously trying to dislodge the ball. It's a tough play. But he sensed he was going to be out. The timing was on our side on the play. In 35 years, I've never seen a catcher get bulled over at the plate, hold a ball and the runner be called safe."

Lawrie, meanwhile, received some verbal jarring from Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher, but said he couldn't make out what was being said to him. Along with Farrell, Lawrie felt there was nothing dirty about the play.

"For me as a runner, I can't tell where the ball is," Lawrie said. "If it's behind me or any which way it is. It's important for me to protect myself and it took him right in front of the plate and I thought it was a clean play."

Wilson, who was removed following the play, lasted five innings, plus five batters, allowing two runs on just three hits but walked five and hit a batter. His ERA sits at 2.33 after the no-decision.

Rasmus hit a three-run homer off Jordan Walden in the ninth, his 15th of the year, to account for the game's final score. The Blue Jays' center fielder now has more home runs than he did in 2011.

Chris Toman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.