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Devon can't do it alone: Jays fall 4-2 to Royals

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Blue Jays 2 Royals 4

Devon Travis continued his offensive onslaught, but the rest of the lineup with the exception of Kevin Pillar was almost completely shut down as the Jays squandered an early 2-0 lead in the middle innings to drop a frustrating game.

For the second straight night, Travis led off the game with a home run to stake the Jays to an immediate 1-0 lead. It was the 16th straight solo home run for the Blue Jays, which is a big part of why they haven't been putting many runs on the board recently. After that, Danny Duffy shut things down, working around just a single and walk over the first four innings.

The Jays plated their only other run in the 5th, when Kevin Pillar lead off with the double, and after a pair of fly outs Travis drove him home with a single. Other than an Edwin Encarnacion walk, the Jays didn't do any more damage until Pillar lead off the 7th by beating out an infield single (the second straight replay night found him safe after being called out). Justin Smoak and Melvin Upton struck out (more on that later), with Pillar stealing 2nd to put himself in scoring position with Travis up.

Ned Yost wisely didn't let Travis face Duffy a fourth time, bringing in Peter Moylan who struck him out, and two more in a shutdown 8th. Kelvim Escobar (also for a second straight night, no Buck) Kelvin Herrera had a 1-2-3 ninth.

On the mound, it was simply not Aaron Sanchez' night, and he took the loss due to a snakebitten 5th and 6th innings when the Royals scored their runs. He didn't have his best form or fastball command, but he was not bad, with his curveball in particular hellaciously sharp.

He worked an easy first, lost the zone a bit in the second but worked around a leadoff walk to Eric Hosmer, puncuating the inning by making Alex Gordon look silly whiffing at a curveball. He seemed to have found his groove with an easy third and a leadoff groundout in the 4th, but then allowed back to back singles before he extricated himself from the jam with a strikeout and groundout.

He was not so fortunate in the 5th. Gordon led off with a reasonably well struck single, which was followed by an infield single to short and a perfect bunt that went for a single to load the bases. Yet another cheap infield single put the Royals on the board. Sanchez almost got out of it, with a weak plineout to second and groundout with the lead runner forced at home. However, Hosmer got Sanchez for the third straight at-bat, lining a solid single to plate too more.

The last run came in the 6th, and should not have happened. Sanchez got the first two on a groundout and strikeout, and then induced another roller towards Tulo. He couldn't handle it, and after a stolen base that runner was cashed on a triple. It was scored a single, but Tulo would probably be the firs to say he needs to make that play.

Danny Barnes worked the last two innings. Despite hard hit leadoff doubles in both innings, he got the next three batters both times in a shutout appearance. He wasn't quite as good as his debut, but still piled up a number of swings and misses.

A parting comment: Smoak looked truly lost and overmatched most of the night at the plate. The first two strikeouts were just awful, the first one at least he fouled off a bunch of pitches before going down to end the game. Behind him, Upton didn't look a whole lot better.

Source: FanGraphs

Jays of the Day: Travis (+0.153, 2/4. HR). Let's also give Pillar (+0.085) one for his 2/4, basically the lone other brihgt spot in the lineup who otherwise went 1 for 25.

Suckage: Sanchez (-0.233), a harsh verdict on hisevening; Martin (-0.130); Smoak (-0.130, 3K). Tulo falls just short of the number (-0.087) and had the only other hit, but I'm going to give him one for not handling that ball that could/should have ended the 6th.

So the Blue Jays take their first loss on the season to Kansas City, but with Baltimore falling to the White Sox, the Jays remain 0.5 games off tied for the AL East lead. Tomorrow is the rubbermatch of the series, with Marcus Stroman taking on Yordano Ventura at 2:15 eastern. Ventura and the Blue Jays: what could possibly go wrong?