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ST. PETE, FL. — Publicly they will tell you the runs are going to come, even though there’s little evidence of it actually happening.

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Publicly those around the Blue Jays like to tell you that it’s just a matter of time and that once they stop pressing at the plate, the runs will come in bunches.

Privately, however, there is much more concern, even though the season is just 33 games old.

The problem, of course, is that 33 soon becomes 53 and then 83 and suddenly the season starts getting away.

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The struggles continued Friday night at Tropicana Field where the Jays fell 5-2 to the Rays, the second Toronto team to lose in the region over the past 24 hours.

And from the clubhouse, to the dugout, to the field, there is evidence of frustration throughout.

Among the signs: There was a team meeting called by George Springer in New York earlier in the week to help solve the funk.

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After the final out on Friday, you could see it on the faces of the players in the Jays dugout when a half-hearted rally to tie the game in the eighth inning fell short after starter Kevin Gausman allowed three consecutive hits and an otherwise brilliant evening for the right-hander was over.

“Good hitters are going to hit,” manager Charlie Montoyo said post game, re-iterating the mantra that is starting to sound hollow. “People way ‘when, when’ but we have 129 games left. You can’t panic about a good offense that’s going to hit. Just right now there are so many close games that it just gets magnified.”

The loss was the Jays fifth in a row, matching their longest skid in the past two seasons. With a 2-8 run in their past 10, the team’s record has nose-dived to 17-16, the precise spot it was after 33 games in 2021.

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At the final out, the Jays found themselves seven games behind the New York Yankees for first in the AL East, a spot the Jays held just two and a half weeks ago.

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And to make it worse, the team lost Springer, who tumbled awkwardly into the center field wall while trying to make a play in the second inning.

Montoyo said the sprain is considered mild, didn’t require x-rays and that Springer is considered day-to-day.

The Jays are saying the right things about the bats eventually coming around, which is the way it works for public consumption. But throughout spring training and the first few weeks of the season, the Jays regretted finishing one game out of the playoffs last September. If there was an urgency out of the gate — and there was — what’s the deal now?

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“This lineup is really good,” Gausman said of his soft-hitting teammates. “We’ve kind of hit a little skid right now, but as part of the pitching staff we all feel super confident that these guys are going to be able to go out and give us a chance to win every single day.

“It’s just unfortunate it’s happening right now.”

Behind the scenes, there is definitely some concern at the sluggish form. Hitters are pressing at the plate and those sustained rallies that were exciting to watch through much of 2021 are nowhere to be found.

The Jays now find them firmly entrenched in third in the division, three games behind the Rays. And an offense that has scored three runs or fewer in 11 of its past 14 teams is still searching.

The team meeting called by Springer won’t fix bad swings, but it might re-adjust the mindset.

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“He had a feeling that’s what we needed and just reiterating the things we’re trying to do,” Gausman said. “He said ‘Listen this is a grind right now, but we’re going to come out of this and when we do we’re going to be better for it.”

With an offense that is batting .185 with runners in scoring position — the lightest mark in the majors — the sooner the better.

game on

When it’s going bad, it’s going bad. The first two Rays runs were gifts, the type of plays that happen when a team is struggling. The first was the play that injured Springer. After he lost the balls in the lights on a Brandon Lowe fly ball, he was unable to make the match and the Rays runner went all the way to third … In the fifth, Kevin Kiermaier reached on what should have been a routine out but instead was a throwing error from Gausman. A loud single from Mike Zunino scored Kiermaier from first … The Jays did make it interesting in the eighth when Vinny Capra led off the inning with a pinch-hit single, the first knock of his big-league career. Capra and Santiago Espinal came around to score on a Raimel Tapia single … It was the second time in three games that Jays relievers allowed at least three runs in the eighth inning or later.


Some would say the Jays are unwatchable when their offense is going like this. They’re also unbettable, especially when they are favored in the wagering. The Jays entered Friday’s game as minus-140 favorites. In their previous five games as faves, they were a mere 1-4 … Catcher Danny Jansen is back with the team after a rehab stint down the road with single-A Dunedin. There’s a possibility he’s activated for Saturday’s game here where he would catch scheduled starter Hyun-Jin Ryu.

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