Blue Jays off to worst start in franchise history after dropping home opener
Toronto loses 6th straight home opener
The Toronto Blue Jays dug their early-season hole a little deeper Tuesday, setting an unenviable franchise record in the process.
At 1-6, Toronto is off to its worst start ever after a 4-3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers in its home opener.
"We're not in a good spot, that's for sure," said Jays starter J.A. Happ. "We're just not playing good enough to win games. We're going to come tomorrow and the 154 days after that and we're going to try to change that. But unfortunately that means we're going to have to put a couple of real good weeks together to kind of get back to even. But we know we can do that. But we'd like to get it done sooner than later."
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BlueJays?src=hash">#BlueJays</a> will start 1-6 unless they come back to win tonight. Since 1977, only 3 <a href="https://twitter.com/MLB">@MLB</a> teams have reached playoffs after 1-6 or 0-7 start.—@jonmorosi
"It's a long season, lot of time, no reason to panic," added Troy Tulowitzki, who drove in all three Toronto runs.
The Jays have lost six straight home openers — another franchise record — and seven of their last eight. The last win was against Minnesota in 2011.
It was the fourth time Toronto has been held to three runs or less this season. It has lost all four.
"We're not hitting right now but we're going to hit. There's no question in my mind," said Toronto manager John Gibbons. "We'll wash this one off, come back and hopefully get that going tomorrow. Because it's just a matter of time, there's no doubt in my mind."
Keon Broxton and Domingo Santana homered for Milwaukee (3-5) in a game that featured three video challenges and lasted a glacial three hours 31 minutes.
Tulowitzki drove in Toronto's run with two doubles — both on 0-2 counts — and a sacrifice fly. The Jays shortstop, who came into the game 3 of 24 but with six RBI, and Kendrys Morales accounted for all five Toronto hits.
Tuesday was the Blue Jays' 41st home opener (26-15) and their 28th (16-12) at Rogers Centre. It marked their first ever interleague home opener. Former Montreal Expo Tim Raines, elected to the Hall of Fame in January, threw the ceremonial first pitch to Blue Jays Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar.
Happ (0-2) was pulled in the fifth after a 102-pitch outing that yielded four runs, nine hits, eight strikeouts and more than a few hard hit balls.
"A couple of home runs got us," said Gibbons. "But he pitched good enough to win."
Happ, who went 20-4 last season, has struck out 17 and has yet to issue a walk this season so probably deserves better.
On the plus side, closer Roberto Osuna returned after a stint on the disabled list with neck spasms. He gave up a single in a 14-pitch ninth inning.
The Toronto bullpen — Dominic Leone, Joe Smith, Joe Biagini, Jason Grilli and Osuna — retired 13 of 16 Brewer batters.
Milwaukee closer Neftali Feliz pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his second save with pinch-hitter Josh Donaldson, who started on the bench because of a sore calf, striking out.
Despite a glorious day outside, the Rogers Centre roof — which just completed a two-year $10-million retrofit — was closed. It was 20 degrees Celsius inside, 14 outside as the Jays took the field before a sellout crowd of 48,456 fans waving giveaway rally towels.
Milwaukee starter Wily Peralta (2-0) went six innings, giving up three runs on five hits with four walks and seven strikeouts in a 112-pitch evening.
"I felt like that was my opening day," he said. "A lot of energy, the crowd was loud all night. I love pitching in games like that."
Martin, who struck out three times on the night, is 0-for-18 this season at the plate.
While Toronto's slow start came on the road, Milwaukee stumbled out of the gate at home. Tuesday marked the Brewers' first away game — the start of a nine-game road trip.