The issues continued on Monday night as the Blue Jays were held to two runs or fewer for the fifth consecutive game while J.A. Happ couldn't make it out of the fifth inning in a 5-2 loss to the Angels at Angel Stadium.
"You have to win a game, first thing's first," John Gibbons said. "We finally took the lead tonight and Happer lost the strike zone. ... We scored those two, and that was basically it. Have to bounce back tomorrow. There's nothing else you can do."
Not surprisingly, the Blue Jays' lack of offense coincides with a season-high five-game losing streak. It marks the first time since Aug. 30-Sept. 3, 1996, that Toronto has been unable to score more than two runs in five consecutive games. Over that same span, the Blue Jays are 0-for-21 with runners in scoring position.
The problems with runners in scoring position can be traced back even further than that. Toronto is hitting .191 (41-for-215) with RISP since June 6. The club has been outscored 126-98 in those games while going 10-20.
On June 6, the Blue Jays held a six-game lead in the American League East and were well positioned for a run at the postseason. Toronto's lineup hasn't held up its end of the bargain, though, and now the Blue Jays find themselves three games behind the first-place Orioles. With two games remaining here and another three in St. Petersburg against the Rays, it's not going to get any easier before the All-Star break.
"No," Gibbons said rather bluntly when asked if he sees a light at the end of the tunnel. "But I also know how the game works. That can change in a hurry. That needs to change in a hurry."
The only bright spots for Toronto on Monday night came in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Jose Bautista and in the fifth on a solo homer by Juan Francisco. The only official at-bat with a RISP was in the eighth when Melky Cabrera grounded out with Jose Reyes standing on second.
All of this despite the fact that Angels starter Jered Weaver lasted only two innings because of soreness in his lower back. The Angels went to their bullpen and pieced together the game by using five relievers to allow six hits and two runs on four strikeouts over seven innings.
"It's one of those things you gotta overcome and turn the switch on, mentally and physically," said Matt Shoemaker, who tossed 3 2/3 innings. "Just looking to get my body going, get my mind right, make some pitches and get some outs."
Even though the runs have been few and far between, Toronto did carry a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the fifth, with Happ in the middle of a relatively strong outing. Then it came unglued. He allowed a leadoff double, two walks, a sac fly and an RBI single before giving way to Chad Jenkins with two men on and the Blue Jays trailing, 4-2.
Jenkins allowed an RBI double to Erick Aybar before striking out David Freese and getting C.J. Cron on a groundout to end the inning. The damage was done, however, as Los Angeles sent nine batters to the plate while scoring four runs.
Happ was charged with five runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out two. He threw 55 of his 98 pitches for strikes and has allowed at least four runs in three of his past four starts.
"I felt like I was in control of that game," Happ said. "I felt like I was making pitches up until that point. I let the two guys go and that was the difference, the two walks.
"A bloop hit, and a fly ball, might not be RBIs if I don't walk the two guys. Going from making pitches, feeling good about how the game is going, to that, is certainly frustrating. That was enough."
The five-game losing streak is Toronto's longest since it dropped seven in a row from Aug. 18-24, 2013. The Blue Jays have lost all but two of their previous nine series, and that's in danger of being extended to two out of 10 if the club doesn't win the next two here.