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Blue Jays lose to Red Sox in another bid to get back to .500



Blue Jays lose to Red Sox in another bid to get back to .500

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It is an admittedly low bar for a team expected to do so much more than flirt with reaching the .500 mark as mid-June stretches to July.

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But with the 2024 Blue Jays, here we are, the ultimate one step forward, half a step back team, it seems.

Desperate for some sort of momentum to hang their hats (and their bats) on as the dog days of summer approach, the Jays had an opportunity to return to that elusive .500 mark on Monday. Again.

And then what has becoming predictable happened. Again.

The Boston Red Sox, in town for the first meeting of the season between the AL East rivals, battered Jays starter Yusei Kikuchi to the tune of four solo home runs in the first three innings of what would be a short night for the Japanese lefty.

The surging Sox cruised from there on their way to a stress-free 7-3 win that temporarily muted a successful weekend for the Jays, one in which they took two of three from the AL Central-leading Cleveland Guardians.

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The loss dropped the Jays back to 35-37, yes two games below .500 after again climbing to within a game of the elusive demarcation point between a bad and mediocre baseball team. The previous time they had as many wins as losses was back on April 29 when they were a modest 15-15.

On nights like Monday, it makes one wonder if the this frustratingly scuffling version of the Jays will ever get back there.

And in that regard, the flirtation with .500 — if you want to call it that — is reminiscent of the 2017 Jays and the beginning of the end of the playoff team from the two previous seasons.

Under then-manager John Gibbons, the team started out with a 1-9 record then battled back to respectability as they improved to 26-27. From there, the Jays inched to within a game of .500 no fewer than seven times on the season and forever fell short. The final time was when the got to 35-36 (sound familiar) before an inevitable fade towards a sad 76-86 record began in earnest.

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The current Jays outfit will continue to aim much higher than just becoming a team getting to level, even if it’s a spot they haven’t been in going on two months.

“Not looking too far ahead but hoping to get to .500 and kind of going from there,” was manager John Schneider’s take prior to Monday’s game. “Hopefully it’s more than that, but definitely know what we’re up against.”

The last line is the latest acknowledgement from a Jays player or coach of the challenges not just in improving their record and in sharpening their play but in the schedule that awaits. In their next dozen games, the Jays play five more against the surging Red Sox, three against Cleveland and four versus the division-leading New York Yankees.


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Forget the schedule. Forget that the team is still unreliable offensively. The most pressing concern right now — which is saying something — is how are they going to close out games they may find themselves leading?

The team is currently without its top three relievers from last season — Jordan Romano (elbow) and Yimi Garcia (elbow) both on the 15-day injured list and Erik Swanson so off form he had to be demoted to triple-A.

So what to do now, John Schneider?

“Especially in the next 10 days, with who we’re playing, it could be all hands on deck,” the manager said of the bullpen conundrum that awaits..

Nights like Monday, when Kikuchi could offer only four innings, won’t help matters as a lack of organizational pitching depth is once again exposed.

With Romano’s return not imminent and Garcia out for two weeks plus, it’s a dire development, especially since the bats were at least showing some signs of life.

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The assault on Kikuchi was atypical given that he had allowed just seven homers in his previous 14 starts this season. “Good hitters taking advantage of pitches that were hittable,” Schneider said of Kikuchi surrendering four long balls on Monday. “An abnormal start for Yusie.” … Leading the damage for the Red Sox was Canadian Tyler O’Neill, the Boston DH, who dinged Kikuchi for two homers, giving him 14 on the season … There was a sentiment earlier in the season that the Red Sox would be one of those catchable teams in front of the Jays. While that still may be the case, the Sox have now won six of their past eight and with their win Monday are 2.5 games ahead of the Jays … The Jays got on the board in the second when a Justin Turner walk and George Springer single was followed by an Isiah Kiner-Falefa sacrifice fly to centre field … Turner provided the Jays’ second run in the sixth inning with his fifth homer off the season, a solo shot … Davis Schneider got his turn to sport the home run jacket when his ninth homer of the year pulled the Jays to within 7-3 in the seventh inning … With the loss, the Jays fell to 9-11 against the AL East and an underwhelming 18-17 at home.

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