Jays' woes continue against Rangers
Burnett yields three solo shots as skid reaches six games
ARLINGTON -- Clubhouse attendants waited patiently as the Blue Jays packed their bags in a somber room on Sunday. It wouldn't have been surprising had the players and coaches hurriedly lugged the gear to the waiting truck themselves, if only to speed up their exodus home.It wasn't exactly the best of road trips. The Jays finished their weeklong journey to Cleveland and Texas with an 0-6 record. They suffered their second consecutive three-game sweep Sunday when A.J. Burnett surrendered three solo home runs, just enough for the Texas Rangers to take a 3-2 victory before 19,103 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. It was only the second time in franchise history the Jays finished winless on a road trip of six games. It hadn't happened since an 0-6 trip through Baltimore and Cleveland in September 1979. "It wasn't real successful -- put it that way," Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We need that day off [on Monday]. A day off might do us wonders." It certainly couldn't hurt, not after a trip that saw the Jays tumble to last place while being outscored, 44-22. Gibbons' team hit just .214 on the trip (45-for-210), compared to the .324 clip of the Indians and Rangers (67-for-207). The Jays were outhomered, 11-7, and saw their pitching staff post a 7.92 ERA in the six losses. "It was definitely a tough road trip, but what are you going to do?" asked second baseman Aaron Hill. "I'd like to say that we're not pressing, but we know we have to get out of this funk we're in. It'll be nice to get back home. We like playing in front of our fans. But we can't make this a habit, going on the road and coming up empty." The Jays appeared to have a good shot at salvaging the trip finale. Troy Glaus' second-inning home run provided an early 1-0 advantage for Burnett, and the right-hander went on to set season highs with nine strikeouts and 7 2/3 innings pitched. "He pitched a great game," Gibbons said. But a punchless offense and three mistake pitches turned the tide. Glaus victimized Rangers right-hander Kameron Loe with that leadoff homer in the second, his sixth of the season. But Loe responded by retiring 15 of the next 16 batters while waiting for his offensive cavalry to arrive. The Rangers' first punch was a home run to right by Kenny Lofton. It tied the game at 1 with two out in the fifth. Then Mark Teixeira drove Burnett's first pitch of the sixth inning an estimated 427 feet over the wall in right-center for a 2-1 lead. Three of Teixeira's four home runs and eight of his 12 RBIs this season have come in six games (28 at-bats) against the Jays. "With a pitcher like Burnett, you may only get one pitch to hit all day," Teixeira said. "I didn't see a good pitch to hit until my third at-bat, and fortunately I got a good swing on it." Toronto tied it in the eighth against reliever Joaquin Benoit (1-1). Pinch-hitter Matt Stairs started the rally with a one-out single, and Adam Lind's two-out single to right scored pinch-runner Royce Clayton from second base. With that, Loe had lost his chance for the win, but the Rangers had not. And after Burnett struck out Lofton to start the bottom of the eighth, All-Star shortstop Michael Young homered to right, his fourth of the season and second of the series, to provide the game-winning run. Young, the 2005 American League batting champ, has been struggling. The decisive hit only lifted his average to .225, but two of his four home runs and six of his 20 RBIs have come in 31 at-bats against the Jays. "Whenever that team comes back to beat you, it seems like Michael Young is always in the middle of it," Gibbons said. "I don't care what his average says; he's one of the best clutch hitters in the game." And to think the Jays traded away Young and Minor League pitcher Darwin Cubillan to Texas in July 2000, getting only pitcher Esteban Loaiza in return. That deal still ranks as the greatest in the career of former Rangers general manager Doug Melvin, and perhaps the worst for former Jays GM Gord Ash, who now works for Melvin's front office in Milwaukee. The Jays have one day to catch their breath and begin righting their listing ship. They open a nine-game homestand on Tuesday, with Boston, Tampa Bay and Baltimore making three-game visits to the Rogers Centre. "It's just not clicking right now," Gibbons said. "We'll figure it out." Burnett, who lost the first and last games of the trip to fall to 2-3, also wasn't ready to panic. "Nothing's gone right, but we just gotta keep plugging away," he said. "We can't get frustrated. We can't give up. I hate to say it, but it's still early. We'll get hot, too, at some point." It won't happen in Texas. The Jays have lost 16 of their last 19 games in Arlington. But once those bags were loaded Sunday, the schedule doesn't have them returning to Rangers Ballpark this year.
Ken Daley is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.