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MLB

Blue Jays' bats silenced in loss to Oakland

By Rob Longley, Toronto Sun

OAKLAND - The good thing about having a struggling effort on the West Coast is that for night games anyway, the damage happens after most fans in the East have called it a night.

The bad thing about this trip so far, is that the Blue Jays are squandering a chance to continue their climb up the standings with some sloppy baseball against what was purported to be a weaker opponent.

On a lacklustre Tuesday night at the Oakland Coliseum, the Jays fell 4-1 to the mediocre Athletics, dropping their second in as many nights at the aging, sparsely populated stadium.

And if you stayed up to watch the painful conclusion, the eyes will be even more bleary on a weekday work morning.

After battling the Yankees to a 2-2 series split on the weekend, the Jays need a matinee win on Wednesday to avoid being swept by the AL West cellar dwellars.

And they also are in need of a return of that booming offence that has suddenly been held to three runs or fewer in four consecutive games.

“It’s normal game of baseball. sometimes you run into good pitchers,” Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said. “We’re all professionals. We all have an idea of what we’re trying to accomplish. but the game provides difficulties at times.”

Part of the difficulty for the Jays is the cavernous Coliseum, where balls don’t soar out of the park like they do in most of the AL East venues, especially on cool, damp nights like Tuesday.

The Jays were able to scatter eight hits, but once again struggled getting runners home, stranding eight on base.

“When it cools off, the ball kind of goes badly,” Jays manager John Gibbons said of the challenges of the old Coliseum. “Daytime is much different. The sun will be out (on Wednesday) and it will play totally different.”

The Jays are hoping to avoid being swept by the A’s and taking a step back after the most recent bullish run.

This one had a sour feeling from the time the team arrived at the stadium to learn that second baseman Devon Travis was headed to the disabled list with another bone bruise on his right knee.

It didn't get much more promising once the game started before an announced crowd of 16,643 that in reality was considerably less.

As has been his frustrating custom this season, Toronto starter Marco Estrada gave up a first-inning run after a Rajai Davis leadoff double eventually cashed on a Khris Davis sacrifice. It set the tone for a rather ordinary effort at the ballpark from a Jays team that had some rather electric ones over the past couple of weeks.

Estrada gutted it out, however, but after giving up a pair of runs in the sixth to increase the A’s lead to 4-1, left the mound in frustration.

“I didn’t give the team a chance to win. and not being able to go deep into the game,” Estrada said of his anger in exiting. “I felt good, but the last inning jut got away.”

The Jays tied it up at 1-1 in the fourth when a Tulowitzki single brought in Jose Bautista, but the power game that drove the Jays back up towards the shadow of .500 was gone missing in the thick air of a cool California evening.

Also absent was enough sharp defence to help out Estrada, who lasted 5.1 innings, giving up seven hits and four runs.

“I thought he was OK,” Tulowitzki said of Estrada, whose record fell to 4-4. “Obviously he can be better. The last couple of outings he hasn’t been himself but I definitely think he’s about to get hot and be the same guy.”

It would be difficult to hang this one on the starting pitcher, however.

“We didn’t score,” Gibbons said.. “We had a chance in the first to do some damage (and just scored one) and the big inning was the fourth when we came out with just one.”