“The effort’s good, the concentration’s good, we just haven’t clicked yet. But we will.”
They didn’t. At least not yet. What manager John Gibbons told media before Tuesday’s home opener may still reign true, but it hasn’t yet. The Blue Jays, falling behind early in the first and never climbing back, lose to the Milwaukee Brewers and fall to a dismal 1-6 record, the worst seven game start in the history of the franchise.
With emotions running high, the energy was taken out of Rogers Centre early. J.A. Happ, facing his second batter of the night in Keon Broxton, left a four-seam fastball in the centre of the strikezone. Broxton slugged the ball to left field, and, over the course of the next three at bats, the Brewers managed another run on a triple and single.
In the bottom of the first, Jose Bautista, batting in the two-hole with Josh Donaldson out of the game, walked on six pitches and crossed the plate when Kendrys Morales singled and Troy Tulowitzki doubled to centre field.
The game remained 2-1 for the Brewers until the third. Travis Shaw, a former Red Sox with one career hit in three at bats against Happ, reached first on a fielders choice, scoring Broxton from third. As if to match the runs scored by Milwaukee, Tulowitzki hit a sac fly to centre field to make it 3-2 for the Brewers.
Baseball is weird. After both the Brewers and Blue Jays scored in the first, they did so in the third. Again, in the fifth, the Brewers scored one run from Domingo Santana’s home run. Lo and behold, in the bottom half of the inning, Tulowitzki doubled to drive in Kendrys Morales. Still, the score remained in Milwaukee’s favour, 4-3.
Happ was removed from the game after getting two outs in the top of the fifth. Over a total of 4.2 innings pitched, Happ allowed four earned runs while striking out eight and not walking a single batter. Similar to his last start, in which he struck out nine and walked one, it seems that Happ hasn’t been struggling with his command early on in the 2017 season
Wily Peralta, on the other hand, completed the sixth inning for the Brewers in his second start of the season. He allowed three runs on five hits and four walks while striking out seven.
In the bottom of the eighth, one of Toronto’s final opportunities to score, Justin Smoak led off the inning. On a 2-2 count, the low breaking pitch appeared to barely scratch Smoak’s shoe, and the umpires on the field ruled that the ball made contact with Smoak. One replay review and three pitches later, Smoak is heading back to the dugout and the Blue Jays are without a leadoff base runner. The next two batters struck out.
Roberto Osuna made his 2017 debut after being activated from the 10-day disabled list (cervical spasm) earlier Tuesday. In the ninth, his only inning of work, Osuna allowed just one hit on soft contact and struck out one. According to the stadium radar gun, Osuna sat at around 95-96 MPH on his fastball and hit 97 MPH once, which, as Arden Zwelling tweets, “that’s good.”
In the bottom of the ninth, after Kevin Pillar flew out (keeping up his non-strikeout streak), Ryan Goins was pinch hit for by Josh Donaldson, greeted by a standing ovation from the otherwise sedate Rogers Centre crowd. Donaldson, whose status for today’s game was questionable due to a strained calf, subsequently struck out. Travis flew out to shallow right field to complete the loss.
Prior to the game, the Blue Jays held a ceremony for Josh Donaldson, who received his 2016 American League Silver Slugger trophy. Newly inducted Hall of Famer Tim Raines, along with Blue Jay great Roberto Alomar, threw out the first pitch(s) to today’s game, and, per tradition, the huge Canadian flag was rolled out above the Rogers Centre turf during the national anthem.
48,456 fans were in attendance for the game, making it the first sellout at Rogers Centre this season.
Insightful, I know.
Follow Mark Colley on Instagram and Twitter at @360BlueJayNews and @MarkColley.