In the bottom of the sixth inning as he was leaving a mound muddied by the unusual spectacle of rain inside a domed stadium, Carlos Villanueva glanced skyward as if to say, ‘Are you kidding me?’
The Toronto Blue Jays right-hander would not come right out and blame the elements for his downfall in what turned into a 12-0 rout by the Baltimore Orioles at Rogers Centre on Tuesday night.
But the rain that fell through an opening in the broken down retractable roof during the top of the sixth inning, followed by the brief blast of a fire alarm, was enough to certainly unnerve the 28-year-old.
“I could say a million things about what happened out there with the roof and everything,” Villanueva said. “The fact of the matter is it happened. Everybody wants to do their job and I don’t know if it [the roof] got stuck or whatever happened. We were definitely not prepared for that.
“It was a tough inning. My cleats were muddy but it happened. They dealt with it too and they came out fine.”
With Zach Britton performing another left-handed execution of Toronto hitters, the Blue Jays have been shutout in back to back games for the first time since May of 2008, the first time at home since September, 1995.
Britton allowed just four Toronto hits over seven innings to win his fourth straight while Toronto lost for the fourth straight outing.
The Blue Jays record dropped to 15-25 when facing a left-handed starter this season.
“It’s clear that we’ve had some issues against some left-handed starters,” Toronto manager John Farrell said. “They’ve been able to negate some of the left-handed power that we have in the lineup, and that was the case again here tonight.”
Unlike outdoor stadiums, which usually have a brush behind the mound for pitchers to clean their cleats when playing in muddy conditions, there isn’t one at Rogers Centre for obvious reasons.
“It was definitely surprising,” said Villanueva, who gave up six of the Baltimore runs off seven hits over 6.2 innings. “I looked up, just waiting for the last bit to close, and then the alarm went off.
“It was a very adventurous couple of innings.”
After allowing but one hit through the first four innings, Villanueva started to stumble in the fifth where he allowed two hits, including a three-run home run shot by Mark Reynolds who cranked a change up over the left-field wall for a 3-0 Baltimore lead.
Working out of the bullpen to begin the year, Farrell said the plan is to see how comfortable Villanueva is working deeper into games, the reason why he left him in the game after he surrendered another run in the sixth.
In the seventh, after give up two more Baltimore runs, Villanueva got the hook.
“At that point in the seventh there were pitches left up in the zone that didn’t have quite the finish down in the strike zone as he had shown previous,” Farrell said. “And that was the difference, just elevation on some pitches inside the strike zone.”