TORONTO – A disastrous four-game sweep at Rogers Center has put the Toronto Blue Jays’ postseason hopes in jeopardy and ace Kevin Gausman is taking the blame for his role in it.
Corey Seager hit a home run and a two-run double as the Texas Rangers beat the Blue Jays 9-2 on Thursday. The loss left the Blue Jays a game and a half behind the inactive Seattle Mariners in the race for the American League’s third and final wild card spot.
“We are as angry as anyone. We’re angry,” said Gausman (11-9), who allowed four runs in 4 2/3 innings of work. “We are all competitors, we don’t like what happened in this series.
“We have a bad taste in our mouths. But now we can’t do anything but move forward.”
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s two-run homer in the first inning gave the Blue Jays (80-67) a brief one-run lead. Bo Bichette had a single and a double to break out of a bit of a hitting slump.
Jonah Heim scored a solo shot and Texas (82-64) won its sixth straight game. Marcus Semien added an RBI double, Nathaniel Lowe drove in two runs and Josh Smith had a sacrifice fly.
“Today it’s completely up to me,” Gausman said. “Coming out and giving up the lead (on Seager’s home run) and then Vladdy comes up and regains the momentum and then immediately gives it up (on Seager’s double) is just unacceptable and the entire game after that is on me. .”
Tim Mayza, Erik Swanson, Trevor Richards, Yimi García and Bowden Francis came out of the Toronto bullpen.
The Rangers began the series outside of a wild card spot, but moved up to second place behind the Tampa Bay Rays thanks to the sweep.
“Anytime you can sweep a team, it’s great, especially when it’s the team we’re fighting for a wild card spot,” Heim said. “It’s great for morale. “I think everyone leaves here confident.”
Rangers starter Nathan Eovaldi allowed two runs on three hits and three walks while striking out three. Eovaldi had a limited pitch count, so he exited the game after 3 1/3 innings with Cody Bradford (4-1), José Leclerc, Will Smith and Jonathan Hernández coming in in relief.
Seager took Gausman deep with an 87.2 mph splitter on just the fourth pitch of the game. Seager’s 31st home run of the season flew 422 feet to right center field.
Bichette got his first hit of the series in the bottom of the first, with a single to left field. That ended a four-game drought in which the star shortstop went 0-for-15.
Guerrero took advantage of Bichette’s hit, crushing an 81.3 mph slider from Eovaldi in the next at-bat. His 22nd home run of the season traveled 426 feet to the second floor of the Rogers Center for a 2-1 Blue Jays lead and delighted the crowd of 37,594.
Seager struck again in the second when he hit the ball to deep left field, sending Blue Jays outfielder Whit Merrifield to the warning track. Merrifield caught the ball, but when he hit the wall it came out of his glove, allowing Ezequiel Duran and Semien to score for a 3-2 Rangers lead.
Being trending now
“Vladdy took the lead and I gave it back to him. That’s hard,” Gausman said. “We have to use that going forward, use any frustration we have and try to take it out on the other teams.”
Texas scored in a third straight inning when Heim hit his 17th home run of the season. He came up with a 95.7 mph four-seam fastball, the first pitch he saw of the at-bat, flying 425 feet to center field for a 4-2 lead.
Toronto’s wheels went out of control in the eighth.
Semien doubled to lead in Duran, then Lowe singled to score Evan Carter and Semien. Garcia issued a bases-loaded walk to Robbie Grossman, all before the Blue Jays recorded a single.
Smith hit a sacrifice fly to deep right field to bring home Lowe.
The Rogers Center fans booed louder and louder with each scoring play in the inning. It was the second straight game in which the Toronto faithful turned on their hometown team.
The Blue Jays entered the series with one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, but they allowed 35 runs to the Rangers and only scored nine.
“We need to hit, we need to pitch better, limit walks,” Toronto manager John Schneider said. “You take the lead in the first inning and you have to keep finding a way to score runs.
“It’s not a great series, that’s not our best game by any means.”
ON COVER – José Berríos (10-10) will start Friday when Toronto opens a three-game series with Boston.
Brayan Bello (12-8) is scheduled for the Red Sox.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 14, 2023.
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