TORONTO (AP) — Expected to be an offensive force, the Toronto Blue Jays aren’t getting enough out of their big bats.
Nomar Mazara hit a tiebreaking home run in the top of the eighth, then threw out the potential tying run at home plate in the bottom half of the inning, helping the Texas Rangers beat the slumping Blue Jays 2-1 on Monday night.
The Blue Jays left eight runners stranded and suffered their fourth consecutive home loss, Toronto’s longest slump at Rogers Centre since a four-game skid from April 23-26, 2014.
The Blue Jays are an AL-worst 2-7 in one-run games.
“In these close games we’re just not executing good enough to win,” manager John Gibbons said.
Toronto has lost eight of 12 overall, but right-hander R.A. Dickey doesn’t expect the offense to stay dormant for long.
“Right now we’re sputtering a little bit but we’ve got the pedigree in here,” Dickey said. “It’s just a matter of time before we start clicking.”
Named the AL’s top rookie in the month of April earlier Monday after batting .333 with two homers and seven RBIs in 17 games, Mazara broke a 1-1 tie with a shot to center off Gavin Floyd (0-2).
“I put a pretty good swing on a changeup,” Mazara said. “I was looking for something up in the zone and that’s what he gave me.”
Brett Nicholas also homered as the Rangers, winners of five of six, took the opener of a four-game series between ALDS opponents from 2015.
Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista, whose dramatic home run and exaggerated bat flip marked Toronto’s Game 5 victory over Texas in last year’s postseason, was held in check this time. He went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts.
Bautista faced Sam Dyson, who surrendered that pivotal homer last October, with runners at first and second and nobody out in the eighth. This time, Dyson won the battle by getting Bautista to line out.
“That’s what you’re here for,” Dyson said. “You’re here to compete.”
Edwin Encarnacion followed with a walk, loading the bases for Troy Tulowitzki, who flied out to right. Saunders tagged from third but was thrown out by Mazara, with the call upheld following a Toronto challenge.
“I’ve got no problem with that,” Gibbons said of the inning-ending double play. “The right fielder is on the run over to the line. (Saunders) is trying to make something happen.”
Replay was kinder to Toronto in the seventh, when Dickey left after the Rangers loaded the bases with two singles and a walk. Floyd came on to face Rougned Odor, who flied out to center. Delino DeShields tried to advance from first to second on the play but was thrown out by Kevin Pillar. Home plate umpire Cory Blaser initially ruled that Mitch Moreland had scored before DeShields was retired but the Blue Jays challenged and the call was overturned, keeping it tied 1-all.
The replay review between the top and bottom of the seventh pre-empted the seventh inning stretch. The playing of ‘OK Blue Jays’ and ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’ was pushed back until after the top of the eighth.
DICKEY GETTING DINGED
Dickey has allowed 90 home runs since the start of the 2013 season, the highest total in the majors.
Rangers: OF Shin-Soo Choo (right calf) took batting practice on the field for the first time since going on the DL. … RHP Yu Darvish (elbow surgery) will make his second rehab start Friday. Darvish will throw three innings or 45 pitches for Triple-A Round Rock. … OF Josh Hamilton (left knee) will be sidelined until Friday, resetting the 20-day clock on his rehab assignment at Double-A Frisco. Hamilton was shut down after suffering a setback Saturday.
Rangers: LHP Martin Perez (1-2, 4.20) will make his third road start of the season. He’s 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA in his previous two outings away from home.
Blue Jays: RHP Marco Estrada (1-2, 2.92) is winless in three starts. He took the loss in his lone start against Texas last season, allowing one run in six innings.