OAKLAND — When the marine layer burned off in the Bay Area on Wednesday afternoon, it helped expose a professional baseball team battling through one of the low ebbs of its history.
Yes, it’s that grim for the Blue Jays right now after falling 8-3 to the Athletics, who swept the once-competitive team over three games here and a clean 7-0 on the season series.
At one point on Wednesday afternoon, the aggregate score in the series was 23-3 and the Jays were 1-for-21 with runners in scoring position. Though it will be impossible to catch the Baltimore Orioles for last in the AL East, the Jays have now dropped seven of their past nine contests.
Desperate to find something to aid his reeling team, Jays manager John Gibbons held hope that giving Marcus Stroman the ball on a brilliant NoCal afternoon afternoon would offer a ray of sunshine.
Instead it was just more doom and gloom as Stroman was rocked for seven runs on 11 hits in just five innings of work.
“Move on to the next city,” manager John Gibbons, well aware of the harsh reality that exists, said with a shrug.
The result was predictable yet again for a team stripped at the trade deadline and clearly battling with confidence and competence issues. They may get a boost with the large influx of Western Canadians who will make the trek to Seattle for a weekend series starting on Thursday, but even that might be a stretch.
This three-game stop at the Oakland Coliseum was a deflating one from the start. It began with Monday’s 10-1 shellacking, which was followed by an emotional 40-minute closed-door clubhouse meeting in which players vented about the story state of affairs.
That bled into the stress of Tuesday’s non-waiver trade deadline which was followed by a quick exhale for those who remained and a 6-2 loss to the A’s.
“It’s tough just as the team’s changing,” Stroman said of the pressure that has been dogging the team the past few days. “The guys who were coming into this clubhouse the last couple of years for post-season runs are starting to fade away, but it’s part of the business.
“We have to do our job every day to show up and compete and get wins. No one’s going to feel sorry for us. Hopefully we turn this around.”
At least the Jays did break the shutout by scoring a single run in the seventh inning but somewhat typically diminished that “breakthrough” by exiting with the bases loaded.
And then they added two more in the eighth on Russell Martin’s ninth homer of the season to pull to within four runs.
With Stroman’s early struggles, the Jays trailed 2-0 after two, 4-0 after four, and 7-0 after six en route to their 59th loss of the season to dip 11 games below .500 for the first time this season.
No matter what happens, it seems, the Jays can’t get a solid start from anyone in the rotation.
“All three days we didn’t get much shut-down pitching at all,” Gibbons said. “We haven’t been scoring a ton, either.”
Stroman acknowledged that he was less than sharp from the outset. He allowed season highs in runs (seven) and hits (11) and suffered his eighth loss of the season.
“It’s just one of those that you have to flush and move on to the next one,” Stroman said. “I feel like on another day a lot of those balls could have been at people. That’s just a part of it.
“My stuff felt great. I just have to kind of wash it and move on to the next one.”
Yes, Stroman heard the talk that other teams were interested in him prior to the non-waiver trade deadline but did not believe he was going to be moved.
“It’s just rumours, man,” Stroman said. “I don’t believe anything. I didn’t believe I was going anywhere. I love this city. I love playing for this team. I love everything about Canada. Those are just rumours. There’s no facts behind that.”
Stroman also dismissed suggestions that with the battered state of the Jays rotation he’d be feeling extra pressure to produce.
“To be honest with you, I feel that pressure every single time, regardless of who is in the rotation and who is not,” Stroman said. “I’m my biggest critic. I’m toughest on myself. I expect the utmost of myself every single time and it’s frustrating.
“I’m not OK with this. I’m going to do everything in my power to change this momentum going forward.”
AROUND THE BASES
The Jays were swept in a series of three games or more for the fifth time this season, matching the mark from last year. They’re also 2-5-5 in their past dozen series … It was the first time in franchise history that they lost an entire season series to the A’s … Martin’s two-run homer was his 63rd as the Jays catcher, tying him with J.P. Arencibia for the second-most in team history, trailing only Ernie Whitt (127.) … For the A’s, it was the third time in franchise history they’ve swept series of seven games or more and first time since 2004 when they bloated Baltimore 7-0.