Blue Jays forced to close book over annoying stretch

SEATTLE — Back on June 13, when Santiago Espinal throwed a diamond over the first baseball that tore through the fabric of Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s glove, it was easy for the Toronto Blue Jays to dismiss it as a whimsical moment. Things were generally going well at the time, they were 11-1 in the game against the Baltimore Orioles and all the faulty leather was doing was delaying the inevitable. There wasn’t even a page to turn.

Now, however, amidst the melting pot of frustration that the Blue Jays find themselves in, every mistake, every disappointment tends to be magnified and linger. In the fifth inning Sunday, at the end of 31 games in 30 days and a particularly miserable road trip, Gabriel Moreno passed a 1-2-3 double play at the end of the inning that was ripped through the webbing another Guerrero glove might have much more torn.

For a team nearing a boiling point, each blip becomes increasingly difficult to overcome. Guerrero’s faulty glove resulted in a run that resulted in a 4-2 lead for the Blue Jays. Another run followed on an infield single, and the Seattle Mariners leveled the game in the sixth when Tim Mayza hit Carlos Santana and two wild pitches behind Gabriel Moreno resulted in a Cal Raleigh sac fly.

Bo Bichette hit the rest button with a solo shot that restored the Blue Jays’ lead in the seventh. But Moreno, struggling against the Sun, dropped a JP Crawford pop to open the eighth and Santana, who had already hit in the second homer, promptly went deep for the third time in two games to give the Mariners a 6- 5 win completed a four-game sweep.

A dagger to end a 1-6 road trip with a ninth loss in 10 games, the Blue Jays are no longer trying to turn the page on a bad day but are trying to close the book on a crazy stretch.

Faced with a bullpen day in the absence of Kevin Gausman, Sunday couldn’t have gone much better for them as Max Castillo pushed four innings despite throwing three frames of the cleanup on Thursday, George Springer went deep in first-place finisher Raimel Tapia landed in fourth and Bichette opened things up with a two-run single in fifth.

Even more solidly, they edged out the strong Logan Gilbert, giving another heavily Canadian crowd of 37,694 at T-Mobile Park reason to believe this game would end differently.

But an attempt to get Castillo into fifth place failed as Raleigh and Adam Frazier scored back-to-back one-out singles. David Phelps came in escorting Justin Upton before Sam Haggerty hit a weak chopper back to the mound which he immediately forwarded home.

Moreno then shot first and the game, much like Guerrero’s gauntlet, began to unravel under the mounting weight of a mind-altering stretch.

The Blue Jays had seemingly strengthened themselves by taking the Boston Red Sox two out of three and then winning the first two games of a series against the Tampa Bay Rays. But then Gausman took a line drive off his right ankle in the first game of a double-header against the Rays and a building surge by the Blue Jays became a runaway slide instead.

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