Jose Reyes was lounging in front of his locker in the Toronto Blue Jays clubhouse a couple of hours before taking the field against the Los Angeles Angels, looking resplendent in a colourful Superman T-shirt that he has been known to favour from time to time.
Once the game started, it didn’t take Reyes long to transform himself from the Man of Steel to the Man of Steal, about the only Blue Jay to make any kind of a lasting impression during an otherwise lacklustre matinee at Rogers Centre on Sunday.
Reyes singled leading off and then quickly swiped second. He was off and running again on a pitch to Jose Bautista when Bautista hit a soft grounder to the right side.
The ball was fielded by L.A. second baseman Howie Kendrick, who barely paid any heed to Reyes as he scooped up the ball and made the routine throw to get Bautista out at first.
Reyes slowed slightly as he rounded third and then put it back into overdrive once he realized the play was going to first.
And Reyes was safe at home in a slide, easily beating the relay from a startled Albert Pujols at first, providing the Blue Jays with the early leg up.
It was about the only show of aggression Toronto could muster on this dreary day as the Angels rode another solid starting pitching performance, this one by Jered Weaver, to silence the listless Jays 9-3.
If attending this game was a Mother’s Day treat for dear old Mom you would have been better off sticking to the flowers and box of chocolates.
After rattling off a season-high five straight wins, the Blue Jays (18-20) have now dropped the first three games of the series against the Angels (19-17), who will be looking for the four-game sweep Monday night.
“They’re just outplaying us,” said Toronto manager John Gibbons, who acknowledged that his team looked tired against the Angels. “That’s the way it goes in this business sometimes. You think everything’s going in the right direction and all of sudden, wham, you run into some pretty good pitching and a good offence.”
The Toronto offence, which had been operating at a seven run-per-game clip during the first eight games in May, has now been limited to a total of nine over the first three games against the Angels.
Toronto, which was outhit 12-6 on Sunday, has managed just one home run in the three games against the Angels after belting out 10 in the three contests they played heading into the series.
And if that news is not bad enough, on the day the Blue Jays activated closer Casey Janssen, who has been out since the beginning of the season with a back strain, the American League club announced that oft-injured reliever Sergio Santos was heading to the disabled list.
Santos, who lost the closer designation earlier this month after blowing a save opportunity in Pittsburgh, came out of his last showing on Friday with a sore right forearm, according to Gibbons.
“We don’t want it to lead to anything else,” Gibbons said, explaining the team’s decision to quickly move Santos to the 15-day DL.
Even Jose Bautista was silenced on Sunday, failing to reach base safely for the first time this season after doing so through the first 37 games, a club record and the longest streak in the majors. The rightfielder went 0-for-4 in the contest.
The Blue Jays assigned light-hitting second baseman Chris Getz to the team’s Triple-A team in Buffalo to make room on the 25-man roster for Janssen.
And Gibbons acknowledge that with that move, Brett Lawrie – the third baseman who is expected to be playing on Monday after missing six games nursing a sore hamstring – will be shifting over to play second when a left-hander is on the mound.
Juan Francisco will play third on those occasions, the Blue Jays wanting to keep his bat in the lineup however possible, although Francisco has scuffled at the plate in the L.A. series.
On Sunday, Francisco went 0-for-3 with one strikeout and is now 0-for-10 in the three games with eight K’s. Marcus Stroman, Toronto’s prized pitching prospect, was called into the game to sub for Hutchison in the fifth inning and he was cuffed around for four more runs off six hits over the next 1 2/3 innings.
That will likely quell much of the discussion – at least for the time being – about shifting Stroman into the starting rotation.