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Bats quiet again as Blue Jays’ struggles vs. AL East opponents continue



Blue Jays drop finale to Orioles as offense struggles again

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12:02 AM UTC

TORONTO — The Orioles have blown past the Blue Jays in a black-and-orange blur.

It wasn’t supposed to happen this quickly. Baltimore was supposed to be another year away from making this big of a jump, but its incredible pipeline of prospects is shooting out top-end talent like a fire hose. The O’s have taken the AL East by storm and left the Blue Jays scrambling to find an umbrella.

With Thursday’s 6-1 loss, Toronto took just one of four games from the Orioles this week at Rogers Centre. The home team’s lone win came in Wednesday’s three-hit performance, in which two of the Blue Jays’ runs came on batters being hit by pitches with the bases loaded. This was Toronto’s biggest series of the season to date, and the loss makes this weekend’s three-game set in Boston even bigger.

The Blue Jays find themselves 7 1/2 games back of the Orioles in the AL East, snuffing out some momentum that was beginning to build within the division, and they’re now just two games up on the Red Sox for the final AL Wild Card spot.

Why don’t those numbers look better? A 2-8 record against the Orioles and an 0-7 record against the Red Sox begin to explain it.

Lessons to learn from the division leaders
The Blue Jays went 2-for-29 with runners in scoring position this series, extending an issue that you’ve seen and read about 100 times this season. That number feels even more glaring after watching a team like the Orioles provide such a clear example of what the opposite looks like.

“I thought we swung at good pitches early and chased a little bit late,” said manager John Schneider. “That’s kind of what we’re talking about. If you don’t hit your pitches, you’ve got to battle 0-2. Today just wasn’t our day.”

There’s a phrase that stood out from starter Chris Bassitt after Monday’s loss to open this series.

“They have a very good team approach,” Bassitt said.

“I’m not going to give that secret away, I’ll tell you that,” Bassitt said, shaking his head. “They have a very good team approach.”

That “team approach” is what you haven’t seen enough of from the Blue Jays. It’s a matter of strategy, patience, aggression or intent that ties together at-bats and builds productive innings. When the early aggression that Schneider mentions doesn’t pay off, the advantage shifts straight to the opposing pitcher, which is why you saw Jack Flaherty absolutely cruising through the early innings of Thursday’s game.

Guerrero’s flared single to right field brought home Thursday’s lone run for Toronto. But the first baseman also expanded the zone multiple times, and he was hitless in five of his last six games coming into this series finale. Springer got a blooper to land in Wednesday’s win, snapping an 0-for-35 streak, but the Blue Jays need both hitters to start piling up star-level performances.

If this lineup isn’t going to have the “very good team approach” each night, then it’ll need some incredible individual performances to fill the gaps. Speaking of which …

It’s time to clone Ryan Mountcastle … (or bar him from Canada)
Mountcastle went 4-for-4 on Thursday, giving him 11 hits in the series. That ties the all-time Orioles record for the most hits in a series of four or fewer games, which was only done once before, by Merv Rettenmund in 1971. This isn’t new for Mountcastle, either. He simply owns this organization.

The Blue Jays aren’t about to give the Shohei Ohtani treatment to a player with a .780 OPS, but by the end of Thursday’s game, you didn’t even have to watch Mountcastle’s at-bat in the ninth. You just knew he’d get another hit.

“Maybe it’s something here in Toronto that he likes, whether it’s Tim Hortons, poutine or the backdrop here,” Schneider said. “Who knows? He had a really good series and he’s a good player. Part of it is missed execution and part of it is him being really comfortable.”

It’s just another thing that’s happening to the Blue Jays in this nightmarish division. If they want their fate to change against this Orioles club in September, October or any of the years to come, those things will need to start happening for them.





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