Kevin Gausman struggles again as Blue Jays humiliated in Rockies first Toronto win in franchise history

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The forecast prior to Friday’s opener of a three-game Rogers Centre series sounded too good to be true for the Blue Jays, so much so that perhaps it was, in fact, ominous.

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Never in franchise history – albeit over just three visits and nine previous games – had the Colorado Rockies won a game in Toronto and worse, they arrived for their latest appearance lugging a moribund 3-10 record.

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With their would-be ace, Kevin Gausman, on the mound, what could go wrong for the middling Blue Jays?

A lot, as it turns out, the latest example of so little coming easily for this team.

For the second outing in a row, Gausman was rocked hard, lasting just 3.2 innings as the Rockies destroyed/humiliated the Jays 12-4 in front of a restless crowd of 29,035 at the Rogers Centre. It was yet another flummoxing defeat for manager John Schneider’s team that is still seeking traction as it slipped to 6-8 overall and 2-2 on the season’s first home stand.

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And it did so in a supposedly inferior opponent in non-competitive fashion as the Rockies belted out 20 hits on the night.
The prevailing wisdom – or hope, really – was that Gausman’s 1.1 innings of troubled work last weekend at Yankee Stadium was due to a chilly day in the

Bronx rather than a disappearance in form.

But the lack of effectiveness in that outing, his shortest since 2019, carried over to the Rogers Centre where the Rockies hit him hard and hit him often.
There was barely a cheap one among the 10 hits they scattered, with more than half of them coming off Rockies bats at 100 miles per hour or more. The hits and earned runs allowed (six) were the most in a game by Gausman since May 4 of last season.

“Obviously nothing good happened today,” a dejected Gausman said. “A lot of pitches, a lot of hits, a lot of runs, obviously, and not too many positives.”
Gausman acknowledged that missing time in spring training has compromised him, leaving him on the fast track to catch up.

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“But it’s frustrating. I want to go out and pitch the way I know how and dominate. I wanted to pitch well the first start at home but it didn’t happen so on to the next one.”

The Jays will get two more cracks at the NL West Rockies this weekend and all mocking assumptions aside, they need to take care of business against a team they should handle.

Just 14 games in, the team has yet to produce anything resembling momentum beyond a modest two-game win streak over the Mariners earlier in this week.

Meanwhile, as Gausman’s rotation brother Chris Bassitt noted recently, this has not been a stellar beginning to the season for a staff that was among the best in baseball last season.

Bassitt had a couple lacklustre outings as has Bowden Francis and now Gausman. Although now although Jose Berrios has been terrific and Yusei Kikuchi, it’s not enough.

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There is belief, not unfounded, that Gausman will sort things out, but until he does the urgency amplifies.

To that end, the Jays will go with a new look on Saturday as Yariel Rodriguez, the Cuban free agent they signed in the off season, has arrived from Buffalo and will get the start – and make his major-league debut. Francis, meanwhile, will shuffle to the bullpen in a long role.

The Jays, have allowed 76 runs, the second most in the AL, a total further compromised by an inconsistent offence. The losses, for the most part, have been ugly as the Jays have surrendered eight runs or more in six of those eight defeats.

Now they could turn to the 27-year-old who they signed to a five-year contract this winter. In his brief work in triple-A Buffalo, Rodriguez allowed just one hit in 6.1 innings of work and has yet to give up a run.

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As for Gausman, he now becomes the person of greatest interest in the Jays rotation. After a spring training cut short to just one appearance due to shoulder fatigue, Gausman was solid in his first outing in Tampa but has laboured in his past two.

“Weird outing for sure,” Schneider said of Friday’s frustration that ballooned Gausman’s ERA up to an unlikely 11.57. “They took good swings. They’re an aggressive team. The combination of the fastball and (splitter) was off a little bit.

“Every time he goes out there we expect him to be good, expect him to do his thing. Tonight you’ve got to give credit to him. They hit the ball hard and found some holes as well.”

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GAME ON

The Rockies had scored just 54 runs in 13 games prior to Friday and then let loose on the Jays, putting up 10 with runs in each of innings two through seven. Besides the 10 they collected from Gausman, they doubled that for 20… The lone bright spots for the Jays was beleaguered Daulton Varsho’s first home run of the season, a solo shot in the second and another solo by Isiah Kiner-Falefa in the ninth (also, his first.)

AROUND THE BASES

Big day for recovering Jays in Buffalo on Saturday. Alek Manoah is scheduled to get the start while back-end relievers Jordan Romano and Erik Swanson will each get work, as will catcher Danny Jansen … If all goes well, the latter three could be activated to the Jays cat some point in the Yankees series next week which begins here on Monday.

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