TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays were perilously close to ending their losing streak. Then they discovered a new way to lose.
With the Blue Jays a strike away from their first victory since July 13, the ball bounced over the head of centre fielder Colby Rasmus, allowing the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig to cross the plate and tie the score. An implosion by reliable reliever Juan Perez in the 10th inning sealed the Blue Jays’ seventh straight loss, 8-3 to the Dodgers on Wednesday night at Rogers Centre.
“I thought we rock-bottomed last night, but I guess not,” Gibbons said, referring to Tuesday night when his team blew a five-run lead. “We had a chance to win tonight, we had a chance to win last night, but we just couldn’t get it done. That’s frustrating, demoralizing, but you’ve got to come back tomorrow.”
When closer Casey Janssen entered the game in the ninth to protect a one-run lead, it looked like Toronto finally had a winning recipe. Starter Esmil Rogers worked his way out of several jams, and the offence manufactured the go-ahead run in the eighth.
But in a season that has grown increasingly frustrating, Rasmus’ error provided another chapter. Andre Ethier lined a 1-2 pitch to centre, and it hopped over Rasmus’ head, scoring Puig from first.
“I shouldn’t have walked Puig in the first place,” said Janssen, who blew just his second save of the season.
“You don’t want to get into anything more than that. I threw a decent pitch, (Ethier) hit it, and you’ve got to credit (Puig) for running hard first to third. Leadoff walks always hurt, and tonight it got me.”
Rasmus declined to speak to reporters after the loss, according to a team spokesman. Gibbons said the ball took a “big kick” off Rogers Centre’s “spongy turf.”
When the Blue Jays couldn’t bail Rasmus out, the vaunted bullpen fell apart for the second straight night. After one of the team’s lone bright spots the lead Tuesday, Perez had his nearly-perfect season hit a roadblock on Wednesday.
Perez, who entered with a 0.00 ERA, allowed a walk and then a two-run home run to Dodgers second baseman Mark Ellis. It was just the start of an unravelling inning, as Puig homered to break the game open, and later Ethier hit a two-run double to send fans streaming to the exits.
“They just hit him. I’ll tell you what, they swing it over there,” Gibbons said. “(Perez) had a tremendous run there. You assume that he was going to give up some runs. He made a mistake in the middle of the plate, and the balls went a long way. That’s what normally happens to everybody.”
Toronto was on the edge of falling apart a handful of times early in the night, but Rogers worked some magic to escape trouble. He allowed two base runners to reach before recording an out in four straight innings.
Yet the Dodgers managed to score two runs in the process. Rogers induced one inning-ending double play, struck out four and limited the damage by walking just one Los Angeles batter.
An error by first baseman Edwin Encarnacion didn’t prove costly, and left-fielder Melky Cabrera’s catch to end the seventh got Rogers out of yet another jam.