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Stroman let down defensively in 4-2 Blue Jays loss to Pittsburgh

It was a completely forgettable night for Rob Refsnyder with a Golden Sombrero and a couple misplays in the field to boot (pun intended). And Russell Martin left the game with an oblique strain.

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Pirates 4 Blue Jays 2

In seven of nine innings tonight, Blue Jays pitchers faced the minimum (and for the most part, that meant Marcus Stroman, as he went eight innings). Five of those innings were clean, in two of them batters reached what were doubled off. An eighth inning had a two out single easily stranded. So eight really good innings. Unfortunately, that one other one was enough to sink the Jays against Pittsburgh (playing them for the first time in 39 months).

The 3rd inning started well enough, as the Jays took 1-0 lead and Stroman retired the first batter. He appeared to clip John Jaso with a sharp 1-2 slider that dove in towards his feet. And then things really went downhill.

Rob Refsnyder committed an error putting a second batter on, and then Stroman induced a sharp ground ball that was headed down the left field line. But Josh Donaldson made a great play to grab it with a dive, and made a strong throw to Refsnyder at second, who hastily tried to second it on first for an around-the-horn double play to keep the run off the board.

Not only did he not get the second out, in his haste his foot came nowhere close to touching the bag, and when the Pirates challenged the call was easily overturned and all hands were safe. So the inning should have been over with the shutout intact, instead it was 1-1 and things were headed further downhill.

Stroman gave up a sharp single to Josh Harrison to plate the go ahead run, and then have up another sharply hit ball by Andrew McCutchen tailing into the right-centre gap. Kevin Pillar ran it down and got it it, but had it clank right off his glove and a double. It was certainly not an easy ball, but one you really want Pillar to make. That made it 3-1, with runners on second and third and still just the first out. A sac fly made it 4-1 before Stroman ended the inning with a strike out.

Other than that, he basically rolled. In the 1st, 4th and 5th inning he allowed nothing but ground balls (one going up the middle); the 7th was a grounder and two strikeouts; the 8th took him about five pitches despite a leadoff single. In total, he went 8 innings, striking out 4 while allowing just 4 hits against a walk and 4 miserable, unearned runs. Conceivably, it would have been a complete game shutout.

Danny Barnes pitched a solid 9th inning, striking out a pair. Nice to see him back, and effective.

Offensively, things were not a whole lot better as the Jays squandered a number of opportunities. In the 2nd inning, they loaded the bases with one out, but came away with just a run on a Pillar sac fly (Refsnyder followed him with a strikeout).

Jose Bautista cut the 4-1 deficit with a home run leading off the 3rd, but after Raffy Lopez singled following that. the next 12 batters were set down in a row as Jameson Taillon found his rhythm. They finally got to him in the 7th, with a leadoff double by Ezequiel Carrera and a single by Ryan Goins to put runners on the corners with none out.

George Kontos came in to relieve Taillon, and earned some major WPA points as he got Pillar to popup, Refsnyder to strikeout, and then Bautista to ground out to not only prevent the game from being tied, but from the Jays even bringing the lead runner in.

They got a pair of two out singles in each of the last two innings, but couldn't do anything with them. Fittingly, Refsnyder struck out to end the game, thereby completing the Golden Sombrero in addition to his ineptitude in the field. Yankee sleeper agent?

Source: FanGraphs

Jays of the Day: Marcus Stroman (-0.087 WPA)

Suckage: Refsnyder (-0.226, 0/4, 4 K, and two defensive miscues not even counted in that total...tempted to upgrade to Super Suckage on this account); Donaldson (-0.117, 0/4); Pillar (-0.094, had the RBI sac fly but also hurt another rally and didn't come down with a makeable catch that could've completely changed this one).

Tomorrow, Chris Rowley will make his major league debut against Trevor Williams as the Jays try to even up the series at 1:05 EDT