‘There’s no Doubt we Have Cooled Off,’ Gibbons Says as Blue Jays Drop Series Finale to Angels
A few inches either way and J.A. Happ is possibly enjoying his 18th win of the season.
Instead, a line drive off the outside of his left foot in the sixth inning off the bat of Kole Calhoun loaded the bases and took another very promising Happ outing and placed it squarely in the dumpster.
More importantly, it led to a 6-3 loss and a disappointing series loss to a Los Angeles Angels (54-73) team that came into Toronto (71-56) looking ripe for the picking.
“That’s a game where I felt I was going deep in that game for sure,” a disappointed Happ said. “It didn’t bounce our way, but if that ball doesn’t bounce off my foot there, it’s a potential double play and the inning looks a whole lot different. Maybe get out of there, but I just struggled to get through that inning.”
Through five innings, the Angels had managed all of two hits, both singles and both in the first inning. Both runners were also stranded.
From that point on, Happ retired 13 in a row.
But in the sixth it turned pretty quickly as a Kaleb Cowart liner down the right-field line just found fair territory for a double and was followed by a walk to No. 9 hitter Gregorio Petit.
It was that walk that both Happ and manager John Gibbons identified as the big at-bat of the inning.
“They kind of slapped that double down there that fell in, but I’ve got to make the next guy put it in play and try to get that out somehow, make him earn it,” Happ said. “Then two of the best hitters in the game hit it where we weren’t, but that’s kind of baseball. But I think the walk was big in that inning.”
The Angels’ leadoff man, Calhoun, followed the walk with a single that caught the outside of the left foot of the Jays starter and ricocheted to the third-base line, leaving no one with a play and the bases loaded.
A two-run single by Mike Trout and a run-scoring base hit by Albert Pujols ended Happ’s night.
“He was rolling right along,” Gibbons said. “I thought he was really good tonight, but it started with that double just inside the line down the right-field line. But I think the big hitter was walking Petit. That opened up some things and then the ball he got hit with, I mean, a hair this way or that and it could be right at Tulo (shortstop Troy Tulowitzki) possibly.”
The Pujols RBI was his 100th of the year and put him in select company in baseball history. He became just the fifth player ever to have 100 RBIs in 13 seasons, joining an elite class that includes Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, and Alex Rodriguez.
Happ was charged with four earned runs on six hits over five innings and wound up taking his first loss since June 6 at Detroit. He came into the game having won 11 of his past 12 starts with a no-decision mixed in.
The Jays did have a chance to get right back in this one when they loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning but Jose Valdez, on in relief of Jered Weaver, got Darwin Barney to ground out to second to end the threat.
Lately, that has been the Jays’ luck. It’s not like they aren’t making contact at all, but when they do, the balls seem to be heading directly to the opposing team.
“The last two it just seems like it’s tough finding holes,” Happ said. “We were making some good contact and hitting them right at them. I hate saying the phrase, but that is baseball and we’ve got to turn the page and get back at it and do something to pick the energy level back up.”
Gibbons, too, has seen his offence struggle of late, but the manager said it’s just a case of riding out the bad luck for the time being.
“There’s no doubt we have cooled off,” Gibbons said. “We were on that stretch, but that was due to change, it always does. But we’ve been falling behind and we haven’t been able to get in that situation to get that big hit and climb back in and open up some games. But I think we have thrown some good at-bats out there, but the ball’s we are hitting right now are right at guys. Like it or not, that’s part of it.”
The Angels put the game away with two more in the seventh as the previously red-hot Joe Biagini put a pair of Angels on with a single and a beautifully executed bunt single. The big right-hander got the next two, but with the left-handed hitting Calhoun on deck, Gibbons went to his own left-hander, Brett Cecil.
Cecil, badly in need of some consistency in a season where he has been anything but, wound up walking Calhoun on five pitches. Trout followed with another two-run single off Joaquin Benoit giving the Angels a 6-2 lead.
For the game, the Jays managed just seven hits, one of them a solo homer by Josh Donaldson in the fifth inning for his 29th of the year. They left eight on base as they squandered a chance to put some distance between themselves and the Boston Red Sox, who lost earlier in the day in Tampa Bay.
The Jays remained tied for the American League lead with those Red Sox (71-56).
The game also marked the return of Jose Bautista from the disable list. Bautista was 1-for-4 with a run-scoring double and a sac fly.
All is not lost, as the home stand can still be salvaged with a good showing against a Minnesota Twins team that comes into Toronto with the worst winning percentage in the American League beginning Friday night.