Blue Jays' struggles continue as Wang falters

Blue Jays' struggles continue as Wang falters

Blue Jays' struggles continue as Wang falters

HOUSTON -- Chien-Ming Wang received a second chance with the Blue Jays on Saturday night, but his second tenure in Toronto likely came to an end in the exact same way the first one did.

Wang was called upon to make a spot start against Houston with the Blue Jays in need of a sixth starter following a doubleheader earlier this week in New York. The plan was to use Wang for just one start, but there was always an outside chance he could earn a permanent spot on the team with a solid outing.

That didn't even come remotely close to happening vs. the lowly Astros as Wang surrendered five runs -- four earned -- over just three innings as the Blue Jays losing streak was extended to seven games with an 8-5 loss.

"It was a tough go for him," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He threw some good sinkers, but a lot of them were flat and that's what they caught up with. We fell behind early and it turned out to be too much to overcome. We've been having trouble scoring runs, so tonight was kind of a breakout to be honest with you, but too far behind to catch up."

Toronto didn't announce any roster moves after the game, but it's expected that Wang will be designated for assignment in the very near future. That will open up another spot on the 40-man roster while also creating room on the 25-man roster for left-hander Aaron Loup, who is currently on paternity leave.

Wang received the nod on Saturday night over prospect Sean Nolin. While Nolin pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings for Triple-A Buffalo on Saturday night, Wang struggled like earlier in the year when he posted a 7.13 ERA in five big league starts. Wang did record a three-up, three-down inning in the first on Saturday, but everything fell apart after that.

Wang began the second by surrendering a double to catcher Jason Castro. Brett Wallace later followed with a single while Brandon Barnes then opened the scoring with a two-run double to right-center field. Another run came around to score on an error by Jose Reyes as the Blue Jays fell behind, 3-0, early.

The struggles continued in the third as Wang walked leadoff hitter L.J. Hoes on four consecutive pitches and then eventually surrendered a two-run homer to Castro. Wang finished the inning, but didn't come back out for the fourth and allowed a total of four hits and one walk over his brief time on the mound.

Right-hander Chad Jenkins then entered the game on the same day he was promoted from Double-A New Hampshire. Jenkins pitched better than his line would indicate, but was the victim of some shoddy defense as he allowed three runs -- only one of which was earned.

"That's pretty much all you can ask for as a pitcher, I'm assuming," Castro said of taking the early big lead. "It makes my job easier as well working with those guys. They have a little bit more room for error and can really just kind of ease into things out there and not try to do too much. Those guys have worked hard, and for us to put some support on the board for them is big for us."

Toronto did start to battle back in the fifth inning when Kevin Pillar hit a home run off the cement facing in left field. The play was originally ruled a double, but was overturned following a review as Pillar was rewarded with his first career home run. The three-run shot hit the facing in left field just above the yellow line.

Edwin Encarnacion then further cut into Houston's lead with a solo home run to lead off the sixth inning. All four runs were charged to right-hander Brad Peacock, who allowed six hits and two walks while striking out five.

The uphill battle, though, was too much for the Blue Jays to overcome. They scored more than four runs for the first time since Aug. 17, but with the early deficit, it was of little consolation after the game.

The Astros entered the series vs. Toronto with the second-worst offense in the American League, but have been firing on all cylinders against the Blue Jays' pitching staff. Houston has scored 20 runs in the first two games of the series and will be looking for the sweep on Sunday afternoon.

A pair of rough starts by Wang and right-hander Todd Redmond is the main reason why and the end result is the Astros having won back-to-back home games for the first time since mid-June.

"We're not sure what's going to happen from here on out," Gibbons said of Wang. "We'll have a better idea in the next couple of days."

The Blue Jays have now lost seven consecutive games, which ties a season high from July 14-24. Toronto also finds itself a season-high 16 games below .500 and is 12-24 (.333) since winning a season-high 11 games from June 11-23, which is the second lowest winning percentage in the AL over that span.

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.