After Marcus Stroman endured his first bad outing of the season last week against the Los Angeles Angels, Charlie Montoyo, his manager with the Toronto Blue Jays, was certain it was just an aberration.
And don’t worry, either, about Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the minor-league hitting sensation who has yet to rock-‘em, sock-‘em as was highly anticipated when he finally earned his ticket to Major League Baseball late last month.
Montoyo said the 20-year-old third baseman, now with just nine games under his big belt, is just an “adjustment” away from displaying the power numbers that made him the game’s top prospect.
In his start Monday night to begin Toronto’s homestand against the Minnesota Twins, Stroman was better – marginally – than he was last week against the Los Angeles Angels.
And Guerrero remained in his hitting funk, going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts (looking) while also committing his second error of the season at third base.
Guerrero also looked defensively challenged in the seventh, charging in to try to field a grounder off the bat of Nelson Cruz only to see the ball scoot beneath his glove, a play that was ruled an infield hit.
All in all, it was an unsettling night of baseball for everybody but the Twins, who barely broke a sweat in producing a 8-0 victory over the free-falling Blue Jays (15-20). The Jays lost for the third consecutive game and for the sixth time in their last seven.
Just over 12,200 were on hand to witness the carnage.
Montoyo, perhaps unhappy that his pregame prognostications did not pan out, did the sensible thing in this lumbering affair, getting turfed in the bottom of the fifth inning after arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Adam Hamari.
It was the rookie manager’s first MLB ejection.
The Twins (21-12), leaders of the pack in the American League Central, cranked three home runs to sink Toronto – by Jason Castro, Eddie Rosario and Jorge Polanco. Minnesota has now stroked 59 homers through 33 games so far this season.
The Blue Jays were coming off a crummy 1-5 road trip that culminated on Sunday with a 10-2 drubbing at the hands of the Texas Rangers.
Neither the offence or the pitching was in sync during the trip, which is usually a harbinger of continued bad fortune.
The Blue Jays were outscored 43-16 in the six games while hitting a combined .211. And the starting pitching also fell on hard times, hard-pressed to go deep into games with a gaudy 8.77 earned run average.
“Our hitters were just okay on the road trip, it wasn’t the problem,” Montoyo declared heading into the game.
The problem, he said, rested with the pitching rotation, which struggled to get past the fourth inning.
And Guerrero continues to be rather underwhelming, at least at the plate. In his first eight games since being promoted into the big leagues, he was hitting .167 with just one extra-base hit and eight strikeouts in 30 at-bats.
Montoyo cautioned – again – that it is far too early to begin reading anything into those numbers.
“The league is pitching him tough right now but I tell you what, he’s going to make an adjustment and it’s coming soon,” the manager said.
It was the first of a three-game set against the Twins, who got the early jump Monday night after back-to-back, one-out singles into rightfield left them with runners at first and second base in the top of the first inning.
An error by Toronto shortstop Freddy Galvis on an attempted pick-off play allowed both baserunners to move up a bag. Polanco then scored from third on a Rosario groundout to second to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead.
Minnesota went up 3-0 in the second when Stroman gave up a line-drive double off the bat of Jonathan Schoop before Castro lifted a first-pitch offering to right for a two-run home run.
After that, Byron Buxton hit a solid shot to the left side that landed in front of Guerrero but he was unable to find the handle and was charged with an error.
More gloom awaited Stroman in the fourth when Buxton looped a ground-rule double into the rightfield corner that potted two more runs.
That increased the Minnesota lead to 5-0, a pretty safe lead when you consider the lame state of hitting affairs with the bats of the Blue Jays, who did not record their first hit until the bottom of the fourth.
The Twins wound up outhitting the Blue Jays 12-3 behind a solid start from lefty Martin Perez, who went seven innings, allowing two of the Toronto hits while striking out nine.
After he gave up his second homer of the night to Rosario in the fifth, Stroman’s night was over, allowing six runs (five earned) off eight hits over 4.2 innings.
Stroman is now 1-5 on the year.