TORONTO — It’s not quite time to plaster the Blue Jays’ offence on the side of a milk carton, but Toronto bats have largely gone missing to open the season.
At the wrong end of a second straight quality Cleveland pitching performance, Toronto fell to 0-2 Wednesday after Mark Reynolds homered off Sergio Santos in the 11th inning to lift the Indians to a 3-2 win.
The Indians (2-0) took the opener 4-1 Tuesday, with Toronto managing just four hits. The Jays collected five hits Wednesday but only Maicer Izturis and Jose Bautista, who both homered, made it past first base.
Toronto, despite its expensive makeover, has yet to lead in its two outings.
“This team is built to score runs. We haven’t done that yet but we’re going to hit,” said Toronto manager John Gibbons. “But that’s basically been the difference in the games.”
Toronto’s 0-2 start is the worst since the team opened the 2004 campaign with three straight losses.
Reynolds, the Cleveland designated hitter, was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts prior to the solo shot off Santos (0-1), the Jays’ sixth pitcher on the night, to lead off the 11th.
“That’s baseball,” said Santos. “A poorly located pitch and he did his job.”
Melky Cabrera, Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion — the heart of the Jays’ lineup — were unable to respond in the bottom of the 11th with right-hander Joe Smith on the mound.
Bautista homered with one out in the ninth to force extra innings. Prior to his solo shot over the left-field fence off closer Chris Perez, Bautista had hit into two double plays and flied out.
“You had that good feeling (after the Bautista homer) but nothing ever really developed after that,” Gibbons said.
“We just need to get some more base-runners on and get a big hit,” he added. “Maybe to plate two runs and that should make a difference. That way everyone can breathe easier. You know as a pitcher when you’re not scoring — and it’s only been two games — you live and die with every pitch you make.”
Michael Brantley went 4-for-5, driving in one run and scoring the go-ahead on a Izturis error in the eighth inning, to help Cleveland take a 2-1 lead. The other Indians collectively had six hits.
After Darren Oliver walked Nick Swisher to open the eighth, Brantley singled. Izturis, who had earlier homered for Toronto, made a good stab on a Carlos Santana shot to force Swisher at third. But Izturis’ long throw to first for the double play was errant and Brantley scored.
It was the fifth four-hit game of the outfielder’s career. Brantley’s father Mickey played in the majors and was once the Jays’ hitting coach.
After an Opening Day sellout of 48,857, Game No. 2 drew 24,619 to the Rogers Centre.