TORONTO – The offence has gone rather quiet for the Toronto Blue Jays at a most inopportune time.
The Texas Rangers have been only too happy to take advantage.
The Blue Jays dropped a 6-3 decision to Texas on Tuesday night that allowed the Rangers to leapfrog Toronto in the American League wild-card standings.
“These guys are looking forward to this series and this challenge,” said Toronto manager John Schneider. “It’s a good team. We just haven’t really strung the hits in a row together so far.”
The top three batters in the Toronto order — George Springer, Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. — were held to one hit in 12 at-bats.
Robbie Grossman hit a two-run homer for Texas and Corey Seager had three hits and scored twice. The Rangers outhit the Blue Jays 9-7.
Toronto (80-65), now a half-game behind the Rangers, is tied with the Seattle Mariners for the third and final wild-card spot. The Mariners defeated the Los Angeles Angels 8-0 on Tuesday.
The Rangers (80-64) extended their winning streak to four games. Starter Max Scherzer threw five-plus shutout innings before leaving the game due to a right triceps spasm.
Texas also secured the tiebreaker advantage over Toronto if the teams finish the season with identical records.
Toronto managed only three hits against Scherzer before he left after his 73rd pitch of the evening. He was scheduled to undergo an MRI exam on Wednesday.
“When I threw that first curveball to Bichette (in the sixth), it just felt like a charley horse,” Scherzer said. “I could feel I wasn’t going to be able to throw another baseball.
“Best-case scenario is I wake up tomorrow and feel good.”
Scherzer was replaced by Jose Leclerc, who was pulled in the seventh after giving up a leadoff double to Spencer Horwitz and sacrifice fly to Davis Schneider.
Cavan Biggio welcomed left-hander Brock Burke with an RBI single that put Toronto on the board.
Santiago Espinal followed with a hit to left-centre field but was called out as he tried to stretch it into a double. The Blue Jays challenged the call and it was overturned to the delight of the Rogers Centre crowd of 30,479.
Ernie Clement hit a soft grounder that scored Biggio. Davis Schneider hit a solo shot in the ninth inning for his eighth homer of the year.
Toronto starter Hyun Jin Ryu (3-3) allowed three earned runs and five hits over a season-high six innings. He had five strikeouts and gave up one walk.
Scherzer (13-6) fanned a pair and issued one walk.
“I thought we had our pitches to hit and (we) just didn’t get it done,” Schneider said.
The Blue Jays opened their 10-game homestand with a three-game sweep of the lowly Kansas City Royals. After this four-game series with Texas, Toronto will host the Boston Red Sox for a three-game weekend set.
The Rangers’ win streak is their longest since an eight-gamer in early August.
Seager’s single in the fourth inning was the 1,000th hit of his career. He scored on Grossman’s ninth home run of the season.
Seager scored again in the sixth after leading off with a double. He came home on a sacrifice fly by Jonah Heim. Texas added two more runs in the seventh.
Toronto reliever Erik Swanson pitched a clean eighth inning in his first appearance since being reinstated from the 15-day injured list a day earlier.
The Rangers tacked on an insurance run in the ninth against Trevor Richards. The game took two hours 39 minutes to play.
Blue Jays third baseman Matt Chapman had a full day of pre-game work as he moves closer to a return to game action.
He participated in hitting, running and infield drills and was also slated for some indoor batting cage work. Chapman (finger) has been on the injured list since Aug. 28.
The Blue Jays placed first baseman Brandon Belt on the injured list with lumbar spine muscle spasms.
Outfielder Nathan Lukes was recalled from triple-A Buffalo.
Former Toronto Maple Leafs captain Rick Vaive threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Joining him near the mound were retired NHL players Gary Leeman, Mike Gartner, Steve Thomas and Nik Antropov.
Left-handers are tabbed to square off Wednesday night as the four-game series continues.
The Blue Jays will turn to Yusei Kikuchi (9-5, 3.57 earned-run average) while the Rangers counter with Jordan Montgomery (8-11, 3.62).
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 12, 2023.
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