Blue Jays shut out for seventh time in 3-0 loss to Indians: Griffin
CLEVELAND-For a freshly shorn Josh Johnson, it was an encouraging start despite the 3-0 loss to the Indians on Tuesday at Progressive Field. Minus his traditional long curls gone in favour of a crewcut, the tall righthander retired the first 10 batters of the game, then after a blip in the fourth, ot eight of the last nine he faced over seven innings, but it was a stretch of five straight Indians reaching base that ended up scoring the only two runs he allowed, as his season record dropped to 1-4.
The struggling Johnson allowed a walk and three straight singles in that fateful fourth, before a clearly angry manager John Gibbons made a rare mound visit in which he just wanted to offer some tough love to his talented starter. Gibbons usually only visits when a change is being made.
“He said, 'You got this' and that was it...maybe a little bit more than that,” Johnson smiled. “Just, 'Believe in yourself. You got it. Don't worry about it and go get 'em.'”
Gibbons seemed quite animated as he spoke to his erratic starter. After the stern lecture, Johnson retired the next eight Indians. Overall, he threw just 104 pitches in seven innings, with three hits, two walks and six strikeouts, leaving much cause for Johnson to be optimistic. It should be noted the Jays have scored just 18 runs in the seven losses in which he has been the starter.
“You always have to find a way to stay positive,” Johnson said. “It's tough at times, but you have to find a way. You've got some good teammates here that will definitely help you through it. They'll always be positive there for you and help you get through it, but it's tough. You don't want to go out there and give up a couple of runs, be the guy that decides it on the losing end. But it's part of it.”
From an offensive standpoint, the Jays were small in the clutch. They outhit the Indians 8-4, but when presented a golden opportunity to take the early lead in the fourth inning, they came up empty.
Colby Rasmus led off the fourth with a double to centre field. With one out, Maicer Izturis slapped a groundball single through the right side. Third base coach Luis Rivera played it ultra-conservative holding Rasmus at third as Drew Stubbs charged the ball. But Rajai Davis grounded back to the mound for a fielder's choice at second base. After Davis stole second, J.P. Arencibia struck out and Emilio Bonifacio flied to right field. The struggling Bonifacio ended the game hitless in three at-bats and was finally pinch-hit for in the ninth inning by light-hitting catcher Josh Thole.
“He's the type of hitter who's got to use the whole field, shorten up his swing and slap some balls to left field,” Gibbons explained. “That'll help him improve. That's the kind of hitter he is.”
Meanwhile, is a change in the air? Brett Lawrie played his first Triple-A game at Buffalo at second base, hitting a homer. If they believe his stroke is back, he is likely to return to the Jays' lineup sometime prior to the all-star break. There are five games remaining in Cleveland and Baltimore.
R.A. Dickey has been moved up in the rotation to pitch on Thursday in the noon game, the series finale. Mark Buehrle will now move back to go on Friday in Baltimore. Dickey is 0-2 in three starts against the Orioles, with an ERA over seven.