Jose Bautista does not claim to have all the answers to what ails the Toronto Blue Jays of late and neither does manager John Gibbons.
But both remain confident that the bad karma that has enveloped the team over the last week is just a phase that will soon blow over.
“I don’t think anybody’s lost that frame of mind. I think we’re all still there, it’s just a rough patch,” Bautista said after the Blue Jays lost for the third consecutive time, 4-2, to the Baltimore Orioles here at Camden Yards on Thursday night.
“I don’t think anybody’s making a big deal about it.” Bautista continued. “I think we’re still going out there and giving it a good effort, which is the most important thing.”
With the loss, Toronto’s fifth in their last six games, the Blue Jays lead has dipped to 3.5 games in the American League East, which really amounts to a hill of beans when the month is only June and there remains a lot of baseball yet to be played.
“As hot as we were we were going we were going to cool off sooner or later,” Gibbons said. “But it’s been really magnified now. We’ll get it going, we’re too good an offence.”
Still, after a satisfying run in which they shot to the top of the heap after winning 15 of 17 games, the recent slide has been like stepping into a cold shower for the Blue Jays.
The once potent offence has shriveled up like a prune.
The Blue Jays only managed seven hits against the Orioles Thursday night.
Over their last six games the team has scored nine runs, an average of 1.5 per outing. The team is also averaging 6.8 hits, 1.5 runs and is hitting a collective .208.
The Blue Jays have also gone three straight games without nothing a home run, their signature card.
When they were running hot, Toronto was hitting a collective .301, averaging close to two home runs per game with 10.4 hits and 5.8 runs.
Combine all that with the club’s propensity to cough up the early lead and it is all rather easy to see why the Blue Jays have gone into a sudden funk.
Against Baltimore, Toronto starting pitcher Mark Buehrle surrendered a two-run home run shot to Baltimore’s Delmon Young in the first inning.
It marked the fourth straight game that a Blue Jay starter has allowed a home run in the opening frame.
“It’s obvious, we’re not hitting,” said Buehrle, now 10-3 on the year after losing his second straight game. “We’re struggling right now.
“When we were winning we’d give up two runs in the first and we’d bounce right back and say, who cares, we’re going to score. But right now that’s not happening so we got to do a better job of throwing up a zero in the first few innings to give us a chance to score a run here and there to build confidence and get us going.”
The Blue Jays will send Drew Hutchison (4-4) to the mound Friday night in an attempt to halt the skid, going up against Ubaldo Jimenez (2-7).