Blue Jays' funk finds a new low with fifth consecutive loss

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The Blue Jays are desperate for a break these days, but nothing is falling their way.

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One day after dropping a game to the Cleveland Guardians in which they gave up seven runs on just four hits over the first two innings, the Jays in Game 2 of the series allowed just eight hits and gave up another six runs in a 6-3 loss on Saturday.

Blue Jays starter and loser Jose Berrios stuck around for five innings, and while he allowed just six hits, he was charged with five runs as three of those hits were home runs and two of them came with a man on base.

Bo Naylor and Jose Ramirez had two-run homers for the Guardians, while leadoff man Stephen Kwan connected with the bases empty to provide Cleveland with the early lead.

Berrios gave way to Genesis Cabrera for the sixth inning and Cabrera allowed a solo homer from Daniel Schneemann, who connected for the fourth Cleveland homer of the afternoon.

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Toronto’s bats were a little more lively than in their 7-1 loss on Friday, but just a little. Davis Schneider and Isiah Kiner-Falefa connected for solo shots off Guardians starter and winner Ben Lively.

Kiner-Falefa added a second solo shot in the eighth inning to get the Jays to within three runs.

Toronto then got the tying run into the on-deck circle with the meat of the order coming up after a Spencer Horwitz walk, but the rookie got caught leaning and after initially being called safe on a play at the first base bag was ruled to have been picked off after a Cleveland appeal.

It’s the type of mistake that is costing the Jays immensely these days.

The loss was the fifth consecutive for the Jays, marking the team’s longest losing streak this season.

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And it’s not as if Lively is a fresh face or a pitcher the Jays haven’t seen in a while.

Lively was on the hill against the Blue Jays in Toronto last Sunday and was chased after just four innings and tagged for four runs on six hits and a trio of walks.

Lively normally relies heavily on his low-90s fastball, which is augmented by his long stride toward the plate.

But the Jays saw far more off-speed stuff from Lively on Saturday and did not make the adjustment.

June has not been a pleasant month for Jays fans and Jays hitters in particular. As a team, the Jays came into play Saturday hitting just .230 as a team for the month. With the fifth spot in the rotation a mess and Chris Bassitt the lone starter among the other four with an ERA under 4.00 for the month, it’s almost a surprise that the Jays’ record in June isn’t worse than the 8-12 that it is.

The Jays will try to avoid being swept for the second consecutive series on Sunday when they send Yusei Kikuchi (4-6) to the mound against Cleveland’s Triston McKenzie (3-4). The first pitch is scheduled for 1:40 p.m.

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MIXING IT UP

Blue Jays manager John Schneider continues to tweak his lineup, hoping to find a leadoff hitter who can jumpstart the offence with any consistency.

Versatile infielder Kiner-Falefa is the team’s most recent leadoff man.

Kiner-Falefa was coming off a two-hit night in the series opening loss on Friday in Cleveland and was one of the few remaining Jays who had not had a crack at the leadoff spot.

Playing shortstop with Bo Bichette on the injured list, Kiner-Falefa jumped on a hanging breaking ball from Guardians starter Lively for his fifth homer of the year. He added a second solo shot in the eighth, probably earning himself another day in the leadoff spot on Sunday.

But the leadoff spot wasn’t the only spot in the lineup to see some change.

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George Springer, struggling for most of the season, was moved into the cleanup spot behind Vladimir Guerrero Jr., presumably in the hopes of getting him going.

Unlike Kiner-Falefa’s success in his new spot, Springer continued to struggle even after the move with a pair of strikeouts and a walk in an 0-for-3 afternoon. Springer is hitting just .140 in June.

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POTENTIALLY MORE BAD NEWS

Daulton Varsho barely made it out of the batter’s box during his ninth-inning at-bat. Varsho made contact with an inside pitch and as he turned to begin to run to first base, went down on one knee and reached for his lower back on his left side.

Varsho is the team leader in home runs and has played stellar defence for the Jays in the outfield. An absence of any length would be very bad news for the Jays.

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