LOS ANGELES — He said it with a self-deprecating chuckle, but when Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo asked for some insight on the starting rotation over the next week, the response was revealing.
“I don’t know,” Montoyo said, and not for the first time this season.
So opener night (a 16-3 loss to the Dodgers on Tuesday) was followed by bullpen night (yes, there’s a difference) and for most of the evening, it was a far better outing for the Jays.
Though they weren’t able to defeat the NL-leading Dodgers, mainly because they got only one runner past second in the first eight innings, it was one of the better pitching efforts of the season for the Jays.
In a 2-1 extra-innings loss at Dodger Stadium, a foursome of Toronto pitchers combined to allow just four hits and one run through their own eight innings, sticking with a team that had throttled them the previous night.
Not that it mattered.
Hanging around with little offence merely sets the stage for the Dodgers and second baseman Max Muncy was a willing participant. Muncy walked it off in the 10th when he took a Tim Mayza offering over the wall in right to give the Dodgers their second win over the Jays in as many nights.
The Jays made it interesting in the top of the ninth when Rowdy Tellez turned a frustrating two strikeout evening into a memorable one as he launched a towering solo home run to right field for his team’s first score of the night. Though Kenley Jansen has fallen off the form that made him one of the dominant closers in the game, it was still a mammoth effort for Tellez.
Though it’s only a temporary measure — one would hope — the Jays were in dire need of a decent performance from their beleaguered pitching staff. Thanks to 3.2 innings of solid work from Zack Godley, the Jays needed only three pitchers to get through seven innings — quite a feat against the Dodgers who had managed just one run.
Unfortunately for Godley, that run came on his first pitch of the game when Will Smith took him over the wall and just inside the foul pole in left field to put L.A. up 1-0.
On the other side, the Jays bats couldn’t gain any momentum against Dodgers starter Walker Buehler. The young right-hander tossed seven shutout innings with eight strikeouts while allowing five hits.
Back to the Jays rotation, Montoyo may soon get some help in the form of veteran Clay Buchholz, who is scheduled to pitch for triple-A Buffalo later this week in what will be his fourth rehab start since being sidelined with shoulder inflammation.
For now, though, the manager will continue to cobble together a semblance of a rotation with what he has at his disposal.
Given the limitations, it made Wednesday’s effort even more notable, especially against a powerful Dodgers lineup. But Wilmer Font, who opened for the second time in three games, went two innings allowing just one hit, then gave way to Buddy Boshers, who had a clean 1.1 innings.
That gave way to Godley, who for the second time in four appearances with the Jays, allowed a homer to the first batter he faced.
And how about Jason Adam, who was in Rochester with the Buffalo Bisons on Tuesday night, travelled across the country and arrived in the visitors clubhouse about three hours before game time. After Ken Giles pitched a scoreless eighth, Adam did the same in the ninth
Montoyo acknowledged the challenges of getting through a game under such limitations with his pitching staff.
“It is difficult and it’s tough to match up,” Montoyo said prior to the game. “And it’s not easy when you have to start thinking of the next day.”
For the series finale on Wednesday, the Jays will go with a traditional starter in Jacob Waguespack. And it will almost be a foreign feeling.
FARM ARMS FABULOUS
Though none of them figure out to help any time soon, there’s some strong pitching work being done by the Bisons.
When Anthony Kay, who was acquired from the Mets in the Marcus Stroman deal, tossed six shutout innings on Wednesday in Rochester, it capped a magical three-game stretch.
Kay, Nate Pearson (who went seven shutout frames on Tuesday) and T.J. Zeuch (a no-hitter on Monday) combined to go 22 innings allowing six hits and no runs while striking out 12.
Such performances have certainly created some anticipation and buzz within the organization.
“There are a lot of guys that I want to see, but you’ve got to be patient with pitching. You’re thinking of player development,” Montoyo said. “Whenever they’re ready to come, they’re going to come. But you’ve got to be patient.
“We all do. We all want to see the good arms coming up.”
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