An injury forced Shaun Marcum to wait 19 months between starts at Rogers Centre, and a lack of run support will mean he has to wait at least another five days for his next home win with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Marcum pitched seven respectable innings in his first game at home as the newly minted ace of Toronto's starting rotation, which was also his first on home soil since he had Tommy John surgery to repair his elbow on Sept. 30, 2008. But he was undercut by his team's slow-starting bats, leading to a 7-5 loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Friday night.
Vernon Wells and Randy Ruiz each offered solo home runs to the cause in front of 14,779 paying customers, while Adam Lind crushed a two-run shot over the fence in right field to threaten a rally against the Los Angeles bullpen. Angels starter Jered Weaver held the Blue Jays to only two runs through seven innings.
Marcum allowed four runs off seven hits, issuing one walk against six strikeouts, pitching on the same night former Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay was making his home debut with his new team, the Philadelphia Phillies. Halladay, who moved south as part of a blockbuster off-season deal, had won his first two games of the season on the road.
Toronto's pitching staff had been one of the major points of discussion at spring training, which was the first in more than a decade without Halladay in a Blue Jays uniform. The list of potential starters behind Marcum and sophomore Ricky Romero seemed to change on an almost daily basis, with general manager Alex Anthopoulos waiting until the final day of camp to name the rotation.
The expectations were low and, through the first two cycles, easily exceeded by almost every member of the staff. Heading into Friday night's game against the Angels, the Blue Jays rotation led the American League with an average of 6.1 innings per start, and sat second in strikeouts (50) and fewest hits allowed (48).
"They're going to go out there and pitch and give you a chance to win every day," Toronto catcher John Buck said before the game. "All five of them are guys that, if they don't have their good stuff, they can still keep you in games."
Dana Eveland, the No. 5 starter, set a franchise record on Thursday night when he capped a run of 11.1 scoreless innings to start his career with the Blue Jays, the longest such run in franchise history. Romero allowed only one hit in a win two days earlier.
Marcum, who took over from Halladay as Toronto's Opening Day starter, received a no-decision in his debut this season, a 5-4 loss in Texas. He allowed two runs over six innings in his second game, a 5-2 win in Baltimore, but did not record the win.
The 28-year-old rolled through the Angels in the first inning Friday night and escaped the second without trouble, but battled through parts of the next three innings. A walk issued to catcher Jeff Mathis in the third turned into a run when Erick Aybar singled to right, and Kendry Morales smacked a pitch over the fence for a solo home run in the fourth.
Marcum got into more trouble in the fifth, allowing three hits, including a run-generating single from Bobby Abreu and a scoring double from Torii Hunter.
Toronto trailed 4-1 through six innings, with Wells providing the lone response, a solo home run in the second that carried him deeper into the franchise's record book. His shot against Weaver was the 736th run batted in of his career, tying him with Joe Carter for third in Blue Jays history.
Jeremy Accardo replaced Marcum to start the eighth, and the Angels quickly added a trio of runs to their total.
Ruiz sparked a rally with his solo homer in the eighth. Shortstop Alex Gonzalez knocked in a run with a single to centre, and was driven home on Lind's rocket shot to lift the Blue Jays to within two, trailing 7-5 heading into the ninth.
And that is where the rally ended.
NOTES: Outfielder Fred Lewis had a jersey and a clubhouse stall waiting for him before Friday night's game, but he was not on hand to fill either. Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said the 28-year-old had been "travelling pretty much all night" since his acquisition from the San Francisco Giants late Thursday ... Toronto Raptors guard Jose Calderon offered a meek wave to the camera when he was introduced to the crowd heading into the fourth inning. Fans greeted the recently-eliminated player a mix of applause and jeer ... Toronto is in the middle of a 10-day, 10-game stretch at home, and will host a three-game set with the Kansas City Royals following its weekend stint with Los Angeles.