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Offence Takes a Day Off, Jays lose 4-1

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Texas Rangers Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

This game was a slog. The pitching was shaky, and the offence was mostly absent. You can’t really complain after they took the first two games of a series on the road, even against a mediocre team like Texas, but you’d like to see a little more spark in any game in the heart of a playoff race. It’s concerning, though, that they’ll probably have to do the bullpen game thing again this week with a double header on Tuesday. The lack of a competent sixth starter sure looks like a major failure, and makes the Merryweather deal at the deadline look worse and worse.

Martin Pérez frustrated the Jays’ offense for five innings, benefiting partly from a very wide zone but also not throwing much that could be hit. The Jays got men into scoring position in the second, third, and fourth innings, the first time via a walk by Alejandro Kirk and a single by Teoscar Hernandez, the second thanks to a Vladimir Guerrero jr. double, and the third due to a Kirk ground ball single and a Matt Chapman line single, but were unable to capitalize all three times.

The Jays asked Trevor Richards to operate as an opener for the second time this season. The first time, in Pittsburgh, he delivered two clean innings with just one hit. Today started well, with a strikeout of leadoff man Marcus Semien, but then Correy Seager singled, Nate Lowe doubled to score him, Adolis Garcia worked a walk, and Jonah Heim lined a single to right to load the bases. That forced the Jays to pull him after just one out. David Phelps was able to come in and strike out Josh Jung and get Leody Taveras to line out to keep the damage to one.

Phelps came back out for the second and got the first two outs around a hit batter, and Yusei Kikuchi was able to get the third. In the next inning, however, Kikuchi allowed a single to Lowe and then gave up an absolute tank shot to Adolis Garcia, who’s victimized the Jays pitching all series, putting Texas up 3-0, He struck out the side from there, but the damage was done. He got into another jam in the fourth, loading the based on a double, a single and a walk, prompting John Schneider to reach for Zach Pop, who struck Garcia out to escape unscathed. He’d return to work an uneventful bottom of the fifth.

Toronto got on the board in the sixth. Bichette reached on a fly ball single, and came around to score on a ringing double by Teoscar Hernandez. They weren’t able to do any more, though, and the score stayed at 3-1.

Julian Merryweather took over in the bottom of the sixth and pitched two clean innings, allowing just one hit.

The Jays finally escaped Pérez in the seventh, instead facing former farmhand Jesus Tinoco, who was sent to the Rockies back in 2015 as part of the Troy Tulowitzki deal. They got two men on, thanks to a Springer walk and a Guerrero line single, but weren’t able to plate either of them.

Teoscar Hernandez reached for the third time in the top of the eighth (one for each of his kids), but Rangers pitcher Matt Moore got a couple strikeouts and a Santiago Espinal deep fly just died on the track.

Anthony Bass came in to work the bottom of the eight. I don’t love burning Bass in a game like this, but I guess someone had to just eat an inning. He gave up a solo shot to Oscar Taveras to make it 4-1, which would be the final score.

Rangers closer Jose Leclerc came in for the first time this series walked leadoff man Cavan Biggio (who’d pinch hit for Merrifield the previous time through) before clamping down, getting Bradley to ground out and striking out Springer and Guerrero.

Jays of the Day: Phelps (0.145), Teoscar (0.175 and a cute kid)

Not so Much: Richards (-0.186), Kikuchi (-0.141), Chapman (-0.113), Espinal (-0.208)

The Jays will head home tonight to begin a five game series against the Rays that looks to be the biggest of the season so far. The Jays will start Jose Berrios (10-5, 5.23), while the Rays have not yet announced a starter. First pitch is slated for 7:07ET.