Friday night was a learning experience for young Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Rob Refsnyder. The 26-year-old made a pair of errors in the third inning to help the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 4-2 victory at Rogers Centre.
“It was a tough night for him, nobody feels worse than him,” said Toronto manager John Gibbons. “That’s the way it goes sometimes. Definitely wasn’t from a lack of effort that’s for sure.”
After John Jaso was hit in the foot by a pitch, Frank Cervelli reached from a throwing error by Refsnyder, which allowed Jaso to advance to third.
A second error by Refsnyder allowed Adam Frazier to reach while scoring Jaso from third. Josh Harrison delivered an RBI single and Andrew McCutchen drove in Frazier on a double to right field.
Josh Bell concluded the four-run inning with a sac-fly scoring Harrison.
Canadian-American right-hander Jameson Taillon (7-5) went six innings and struck out seven while issuing one walk for the Pirates (58-58) who have now won six of eight and remain in the hunt for top spot in the N.L. Central. Felipe Rivero pitched a scoreless ninth for the save.
“We had trouble in that third inning obviously,” said Gibbons. “But [Stroman] did a hell of a job. Even Taillon did a good job too and then their bullpen. He matched him, he had a good breaking ball, change-up [and] he has a good arm on top of that. He was really good.”
Stroman (10-6), who was 3-1 with a 2.24 earned-run average over his last eight starts, went eight innings allowing four unearned runs on four hits while striking out four and walking one.
The Blue Jays (54-61) have dropped three of five.
“I did my best job to battle, defence has my back all year, they’ve made unbelievable plays for me all year,” said Stroman of the third inning. “I felt like I should’ve done a better job in that situation in buckling down and get my team out of that. It’s a tough inning, but my stuff felt great.”
The right-hander picked up a loss for the first time in seven starts. He was 2-0 with a 2.50 ERA in his previous six games.
Bautista hits 20th HR
Toronto jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a Kevin Pillar sacrifice fly, which scored Justin Smoak in the second.
In the top half of that inning, Russell Martin was forced to leave the game due to a left oblqiue strain.
Russell Martin (oblique) will get MRI tomorrow per John Gibbons. #BlueJays will have better sense of his health then.
Jose Bautista got a run back in the bottom half of the third, taking Taillon’s curveball over the centre-field wall for his 20th home run of the season. The Blue Jays right-fielder now has eight consecutive seasons with at least 20 home runs. Only Carlos Delgado has more consecutive seasons with 20-plus home runs (9) in franchise history.
Bautista has now homered in three straight games and in four of his last five. The 36-year-old had gone the previous 18 games without one.
“I’m searching for more consistency in my at-bats and trying to produce and make something good happen, especially with runners in scoring position,” said Bautista. “It’s been a frustrating year so far, but I’m going to keep grinding it out.”
Toronto threatened in the seventh, but with runners on the corner, Pirates reliever George Kontos got Pillar to fly out, Refsnyder to strike out and Bautista to ground out to end the threat