Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Jays Fall to Mariners, Extend Losing Streak to Four

I realize its difficult for me to be objective here, but I can't shake the feeling that Jays fans are simply the ants beneath the proverbial magnifying glass of the baseball gods.

Coming off a devastating loss which saw the bullpen miraculously squander a seven-run lead that the offense had built off 2010 AL Cy Young award winner Felix Hernandez, no less, the Jays came within ninety feet of an eighth-inning comeback on Tuesday night, only to come up empty once again, falling 3-2 to the Mariners to extend their losing streak to four games.

I wouldn't have minded if Seattle rookie Michael Pineda -- making just his second career big league start -- had just done in the eighth exactly what he had for the previous seven innings: dominated. The 21-year-old Dominican kept the Blue Jays' offense in check for the majority of the game, hurling seven sparkling innings of shutout ball while yielding just three hits. But no, the baseball deities, in characteristically cruel fashion, had to plant a seed of hope in the eighth only to pull the rug out from underneath me.

Edwin Encarnacion, who smacked two of the Jays' five hits on the day, led off the eighth with a single to left. After a Jayson Nix strikeout, followed by a Yunel Escobar and subsequent wild pitch from Pineda, Corey Patterson ripped a two-run single to the right field corner to reduce the deficit the one.

With Chris Ray on in relief of Pineda, Patterson -- who continues to impress in the absence of centre-fielder Rajai Davis -- promptly stole second and took third as a bonus on catcher Miguel Olivo's errant throw with Jose Bautista at the dish. But with the tying run standing ninety feet away, the baseball gods administered their decisive blow, as Patterson was gunned down at the plate trying to score on Bautista's pop-up into foul territory down the right field line, thanks to a brilliant catch and throw by first-baseman Justin Smoak.

And just to salt the wound, Toronto was retired in order by Brandon League, a former Jay, to end the game.

But, the fruitless comeback attempt notwithstanding, the most devastating aspect of tonight's bout was the fact that the Jays squandered a brilliant start from Ricky Romero (1-1, 1.66), who made only one mistake the whole game in the form of a two-run bomb to the No. 9 hitter Ryan Langerhans. Otherwise, the Jays ace was typically impressive, striking out eight while surrendering three runs -- two earned -- off five hits and two walks in his first complete game of the season.

After starting the season 4-2, the Jays have trailed off of late, and with tonight's loss, see their record (5-6) dip below .500 for the first time this year.

But I tell you, with tonight's loss, last night's defeat, and Bob Davidson's phantom obstruction call that cost the Jays the game on Saturday night, it's enough to make any fan an atheist.

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