The Toronto Blue Jays are picking a bad time to play their worst baseball of the season.
Coming off a three-game sweep at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles over the weekend, the Blue Jays continued their slide with a 6-4 loss to the MLB-best Tampa Bay Rays on Monday. Toronto has now lost five consecutive games and seven of its past eight, with all of those defeats coming to American League East rivals.
As a result, the Blue Jays have tumbled down the standings and now sit in last place in their division with a 25-23 record. The schedule won't be getting any easier, as Toronto doesn't play a team that currently owns a sub-.500 record until June 23.
Chris Bassitt drew the start for the Blue Jays on Monday and was a hard-luck loser, as four of the six runs he surrendered to the Rays over his 6.1 innings were unearned. His impressive 28.2-inning scoreless streak came to an end thanks to an error by first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
It was defensive miscues that burned the Blue Jays in the series opener against Tampa Bay, but nothing is clicking for them at the moment.
"You can’t give multiple outs to a really good team and expect to win," Bassitt told reporters after the game, per MLB.com's Keegan Matheson. "We’re just not playing good baseball right now. We’ve got to clean a lot of things up. From a pitching standpoint to base running, all facets of the game, we’ve got to clean it up."
Despite the struggles, Bassitt preached the importance of not panicking and forcing the issue at the plate or on the bases. The veteran right-hander believes that mindset only leads to more mistakes.
Chris Bassitt's view from here?
"Don't panic"... and avoid the snowball effect.
"We’re losing a couple of games, so it’s like we need to try harder. Now, more mistakes happen because you’re trying harder. No, just go and play your game." #BlueJays
— Keegan Matheson (@KeeganMatheson) May 23, 2023
Toronto manager John Schneider, who expressed frustration after Sunday's series finale against the Orioles, couldn't knock his team's effort against the Rays and is confident the club will return to its winning ways in short order.
"These guys want it and they’re battling their asses off," Schneider said, according to Matheson. "You look at the ninth inning, there’s no quit. There’s no anything other than trying to get the job done.”
Guerrero Jr. echoed his skipper's sentiments and is chalking the losing skid up to the rigours of a gruelling 162-game campaign.
"It's a long season. A lot of ups and downs," Guerrero Jr. said, per Sportsnet's Hazel Mae. "We all come in early, get our work in, and do what we can to win some games... Keep our head down, stay positive, and things are going to turn around."