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Jays Lose a Boring One, 4-2

MLB: Game One-Tampa Bay Rays at Toronto Blue Jays Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

In the first thee innings the Jays gave up four runs on seven hits and exactly two hard hit balls, both of which were driven straight into the ground. The baseball gods were simply not on their side this afternoon, although the offence really did nothing to help their cause. They mustered only eight hits and three walks and looked totally non-threatening all afternoon. The pitching was actually pretty good once they settled down after the third, and if there’s any silver lining it’s that the Jays used only Merryweather and Phelps out of the bullpen while Tampa Bay had to get into the back end of theirs a bit. That won’t matter if the bats never wake up, though.

Julian Merryweather worked as an opener for the Jays. He pitched fine but ended up conceding a run on two ground ball singles (by Yandy Diaz and Wander Franco) and a fielder’s choice by Randy Arozarena to score Diaz, on which the Jays were about 3 inches from turning an inning ending double play.

After the offence went quietly in the bottom of the first, with only a George Springer single that was erased by a Bo Bichette double play ball, Mitch White took over in the top of the second. He gave up a bloop double to Christian Bethancourt on a soft fly that fell into the left field corner, but a couple strikeouts and a soft fly out got him out of the inning.

The Rays extended their lead in the top of the third. Diaz and Franco reached on back to back bloop singles, and Jonathan Aranda loaded the bases with a soft grounder to Santiago Espinal when Vlad’s foot came off the bag receiving the throw. An Arozarena fielder’s choice ground ball scored Diaz and sent Franco to third, and a Peralta sac fly scored him from there. Things got comical from there. A Manuel Margot grounder clanked off Matt Chapman’s glove and trickled into left. Arozarena read it and turned for home, and Teoscar Hernandez airmailed the throw home, putting the Rays up 4-0.

Things stabilized there, and the middle innings were pretty uneventful. White settled down and allowed just two singles through the top of the seventh. In the end he went six innings, allowing three earned on seven hits and no walks with two strikeouts. Really, he deserved even a bit better than that, but even with his bad luck in the third he gave all you can expect from an emergency call up.

On the other side, the Jays remained unable to do much of anything with Springs. They threatened a bit in the bottom of the fourth, with walks by Kirk and Chapman putting a man in scoring position, but weren’t able to capitalize.

They attempted another rally in the bottom of the seventh facing reliever Shawn Armstrong, with a Danny Jansen line single and a Cavan Biggio walk, but again a strikeout and a groundout ended it before they got on the board.

David Phelps relieved White in the top of the eighth. He needed just seven pitches to get three routine ground outs.

Toronto would finally get on the board in the eighth. Guerrero lead off with an infield single, and Bichette moved him to third with a chopper into right field. Kirk hit a comebacker to the mound, and Vlad was able to score as Armstrong didn’t look him back to third before throwing Kirk out at first. Bichette moved to third on a Hernandez ground out, and scored on a Chapman ground ball single to left to cut the deficit to 4-2. That was the end of Armstrong’s afternoon. Cash was forced to being in one of his best relievers, Pete Fairbanks, with the tying run at the plate. Jansen hut a grounder that almost got through, but Franco was able to get to it and gun him down at first to end the inning.

Phelps returned and was smooth again, setting the Rays down in the order with a ground out, a strikeout, and a fly out.

Toronto didn’t go quietly in the ninth. Tapia reached on a one out single, and Springer reached on a catcher’s interference. Fairbanks was overpowering, though, striking out Biggio and Guerrero amd getting a Bichette ground out to seal it.

Jays of the Afternoon: Nobody was that close. This was a team effort loss.

Less So: White had the number (-0.130), but really didn’t deserve it. Vlad didn’t quite (-0.99) but he was awful at the plate so he can take Mitch’s.

We’ll be back for game 2 at 7:07pm tonight to see whether the Jays can avenge themselves. Neither team has announced a starter, although the Jays will be hoping Alek Manoah has recovered from his stomach bug enough to go. Ross Stripling on short rest is probably the alternative.