The Toronto Blue Jays' performance at home is trending in inverse proportion to the size of their crowds.
A Monday matinee against the Oakland Athletics, a team without magnetizing star power, drew 36,111 to the Rogers Centre, following a sellout of more than 45,000 last Sunday.
Meanwhile, the 5-1 loss to Oakland on Monday represented their ninth defeat at home in the past 13 games. Of the five members of the American League East division, Toronto is the only team with a sub-.500 home record (29-31).
Though crowds are likely to drop off during a meaningless September, at present pace, the club would draw about 2.6 million (a level last achieved in 1997). With attendance of 1.89 million to date, the two-million plateau could be reached this week, as the first-place Boston Red Sox visit for a three-game series starting Tuesday.
The Jays rank sixth in AL attendance overall, behind the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, Detroit Tigers and Red Sox.
"It just shows you what [the fans] are all about," Jays manager John Gibbons said after Sunday's loss to Oakland. "I know they are disappointed, as we all are, but … it shows, if we win here, this place would explode – again."
That was evidently a reference to the franchise's banner years of the early 1990s. The notoriously quiet crowds of more recent times have been transformed by a huge increase in Generation Y attendees, but that shot of adrenalin hasn't helped Jays pitching. Chris Young's lead-off homer off J.A. Happ on Monday represented the 101st allowed by the staff at home, versus 48 on the road. (In stark contrast, AL Central-leading Detroit's staff has allowed 60 fewer homers at Comerica Park, 41.)
The team earned-run average at Rogers Centre ranks 14th out of 15 AL teams. Oakland went into the weekend series in a mass batting slump, having averaged .219 and 3.3 runs over a 22-game stretch. In taking three of four against the Jays, they averaged .304 to score 29 runs (7.25 per game) with 11 doubles and nine homers.
Happ, who was placed on the bereavement list immediately after the game to attend the funeral of a grandfather, allowed just the one run on three hits in seven innings. He made his second start since being hit on the head during a game at Tropicana Field in early May.
The A's scored four runs off closer Casey Janssen (4-1) in the ninth inning for the win, after a Jose Bautista grounder in the eighth had tied the score. Alberto Callaspo drove in the go-ahead run with a two-RBI double.
Boston Red Sox (71-49) at Toronto Blue Jays (54-64)
Tuesday, 7:07 p.m. (EDT): RHP Ryan Dempster (6-8, 4.67 earned-run average) vs. RHP Todd Redmond (1-1, 4.22)
Wednesday, 7:07 p.m.: LHP John Lester (10-7, 4.37) vs. RHP Josh Johnson (2-8, 6.20)
Thursday, 7:07 p.m.: RHP Jake Peavy (9-4, 4.50) vs. LHP Mark Buehrle (8-7, 4.43)
The Red Sox are in the midst of an 11-game trip, going 3-4 thus far against Houston and red-hot Kansas City. They will have played 16 of 19 on the road by the end of the month. … After going 69-93 last season, Boston has made a remarkable turnaround to lead the American League in wins. The Sox have occupied first place in the AL East for 72 of the past 76 days, and 112 days overall – the latter representing the most by this calendar date since the 2000 Red Sox. … They've hit 26 homers since the all-star break, trailing Toronto and Atlanta. … Peavy is 1-0 with a 6.00 ERA in two games since being obtained from the Chicago White Sox before the non-waiver trade deadline. … Johnson had been scheduled to pitch Monday, but was pushed back after experiencing arm stiffness. … Blue Jays DH/1B Adam Lind picked up a single Monday. Since reaching a high of .350 on June 16, his average has fallen to .286. He hit .195 in July and is averaging .154 in August. … Jays 3B Brett Lawrie has hit safely in 13 of 14 games with a pair of singles Monday. He took it upon himself to lay down a sacrifice bunt without getting the sign Monday, and manager John Gibbons told him in the dugout afterward that, with a hot bat, he should have swung away. … Jays OF Jose Bautista drew a walk in the first inning Monday, and knocked in a run with a sharp grounder ruled an error in the eighth. His 65 walks rank third in the AL.