TORONTO -- The rollercoaster of a season the Blue Jays have been riding took another bumpy and unexpected turn for the worse Wednesday night in the second of a three-game set with Oakland.
Not only did the Blue Jays lose catcher J.P. Arencibia for at least six weeks with a fractured right hand, but Ricky Romero -- tabbed as the ace of the staff at the beginning of the season -- turned in the shortest start of his four-year Major League career.
Romero lasted just 1 1/3 innings and the Blue Jays could not overcome an eight-run second inning, losing to the A's, 16-0, at Rogers Centre.
"This team plays their butts off every night, and for me to come out and have [this] type of performance, it's kind of tough to look my teammates in the eye right now," said Romero, who surrendered eight runs on four hits to see his ERA rise to 5.75. "Tonight was just pathetic on my side, just a horrible performance."
From the start, all signs pointed to another rough outing for Romero, who entered the start on a five-game losing streak. After walking two batters in the first, he surrendered a hard-hit RBI double to Yoenis Cespedes and threw first-pitch balls to four of the six batters he faced.
Romero managed to escape the first down just 1-0, but he wasn't as fortunate the second time he stepped to the mound.
The 27-year-old walked two of the first three batters he faced in the second inning and quickly fell behind, 3-0.
Romero then allowed an RBI double to Josh Reddick that was drilled off the fence in right and intentionally walked Cespedes to load the bases before meeting his final fate.
The left-hander walked Chris Carter with the bases loaded -- his sixth walk of the game and last pitch of the night -- which increased Oakland's lead to 5-0.
After manager John Farrell took the ball from his starter's hand, Romero walked off the field to a chorus of boos and was tagged further after reliever Chad Beck, who was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas after the game, surrendered four runs -- three of which were credited to Romero.
The Blue Jays surrendered a season-high eight runs in the inning, and the 16 were the most they have allowed in a game this season. It was also the largest shutout defeat in Blue Jays history and the fourth time Toronto has been held scoreless in its past 13 games.
"We have to work to get him right, there is no question about it," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said about Romero. "We have talked a lot about what his frame of mind is, and yet we have to work to rebuild that to get him on track."
After starting the season 8-1, Romero now sits at 8-7 and hasn't won since June 22 in Miami.
It was the third time this season that Romero has walked at least six batters and allowed at least eight runs, and he was unable to escape the second inning for the first time in his career.
Farrell said that while the Blue Jays are not skipping Romero's turn in the rotation, it is something the club might consider. Based on the injuries that have ravaged the team, optioning him to the Minor Leagues seems unlikely. The club could look to get J.A. Happ a start, and give Romero some extra time to work on things.
"It goes back to, once again, going back to trust his abilities, trust his stuff, because there is plenty of stuff there," Farrell said about Romero, who has issued the second-most walks in the American League with 68, and has the fourth-highest ERA.
Arencibia, who was paired up with Romero for the 53rd consecutive start, is the latest Blue Jays casualty to hit the disabled list. Arencibia took a foul ball off his right hand in the second inning and was diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture that is not expected to require surgery. He is expected to miss at least six weeks.
Arencibia, upset that he will be unable to help the team as it jockeys for playoff position, also feels bad for Romero, who is known around the clubhouse as a fierce competitor.
"I don't think there's anyone harder on himself than [Romero] so I told him actually after, 'At some point down in the your career, however long, we're going to be laughing about this moment,'" said Arencibia, who entered the game batting .357 with five homers and 12 RBIs over his past 13 games, and was pulled Wednesday before his first at-bat.
Romero struggled mightily in the Minors before getting a shot with Toronto, and said his current rough patch feels quite similar. He said he doesn't plan on changing anything up for his next start, but Farrell said they will review the film before sitting down with Romero again.
Not letting the mental aspect of the game wear him out is something Romero feels is critical.
"I've always been known as a guy that goes out there and battles," Romero said. "When I'm not able to do that, I feel like I let myself down but more important, the team down. It's tough."
Toronto's bats were held in check, as A's starter A.J. Griffin tossed six innings of three-hit ball. The rookie walked two and struck out a career-high nine batters to improve to 3-0 and lower his ERA to 2.25 over six Major League starts.
"We're still riding this wave of good offense and we're swinging the bats well," Reddick said. "We got to a good pitcher early, and you gotta credit everybody. It hasn't just been one guy, it has been everybody."
Oakland hit three solo homers, two which came off the bat of Coco Crisp -- the third multihomer game of his career.
The Blue Jays will look to avoid getting swept by the A's, who are 16-2 in July, in Thursday's series finale at 12:37 p.m. ET.
Chris Toman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.