Sports Baseball

BUFFERY

Blue Jays guarantee sub.-500 season with loss to Royals

By Steve Buffery, Toronto Sun

TORONTO — Nine times this season the Blue Jays had a shot to reach the .500 level.

They went 0-9.

After losing 1-0 to the Kansas City Royals last night, it’s guaranteed they won’t accomplish that “feat” this season, and will finish a season below .500 for the first time since 2013 (74-88). With a record of 71-82 following last night’s loss, the Jays would have to go 9-0 just to finish one game below even.

Hey, don’t shoot the messenger.

Jays’ starter J.A. Happ did his part to try to get the victory. The big lefty continued his hot streak out the mound, pitching 6.2 innings, giving up only one run on seven hits, while walking two and striking out six. He has allowed one earned run or less in four of his last five starts.

“We just tried to be aggressive using pretty much everything,” said Happ of his performance. “I felt like the ball had good life tonight. Luke (Maile) did a great job back there, we were on the same page. Getting ahead of those guys and trying to be aggressive.”

Royals’ starter Jason Vargas was even more sensational, going 6.1 and allowing no runs on only two hits while striking out seven and walking three. The Royals bullpen shut the Jays the rest of the way.

“It’s a fine line to walk,” said Happ of his duel with Vargas. “You’re trying to be aggressive no matter what, but when it is that tight, you’re trying to fine for sure.”

The Royals scored in the third on a single by Melky Cabrera, but some heads-up defence managed to keep it to one run. With Eric Hosmer up, Maile threw the ball to second base to prevent Cabrera from stealing second. Richard Urena caught it and, while keeping Lorenzo Cain from breaking home from third, fired the ball to Justin Smoak at first who tagged Cabrera out before Cain crossed home plate.

BYE BYE BATS

Toronto GM Ross Atkins said that “there is no doubt” that the organization will do something for long-time slugger Jose Bautista at the Rogers Centre when the time is right. There has been an outcry for the Jays to honour Joey Bats during the final home stand this week because the prevailing thought is that this is Bautista’s final year as a Blue Jay. But it won’t come during the club’s final home game on Sunday because that would be basically confirming that Bautista is through as a Jay.

“There will be a time,” said Atkins. “There will be a time where it’s extremely orchestrated, choreographed and a massive demonstration of our respect.”

JOSE DOESN’T WANT TO SEE

Bautista set a record yesterday, but it’s nothing he’s particularly thrilled about. In the sixth inning, he struck out against Vargas, which is No. 160 on the season — breaking the Blue Jays mark for most Ks in a single season, previously held by Jose Canseco and Kelly Johnson.

sbuffery@postmedia.com