The Blue Jays were trying to finish strong against the San Diego Padres on Sunday night and avoid being swept.
The club and its fans are anticipating signs of a turnaround, when the last-place club will perform at the level expected when the star-studded lineup was put together over the winter.
No one could say they saw this dismal effort coming, at least not to the extent where the club is 10 games under .500 and showing precious few signs of improvement.
Take, for instance, the first two losses to the Padres here. Both games were 4-3 losses, and both were lost when errors brought in the winning run. Toronto is now 7-13 in one-run games, and the reason for that is simple — bad defence.
The Jays were to jet up the coast to San Francisco Sunday night, and amidst the troubling trends surrounding the team, two stars were to make returns of sorts.
Pitcher Josh Johnson was to start the first game against the Giants, marking his first game back in the starting rotation since he suffered a triceps injury April 21 against the Yankees at the Rogers Centre.
And left fielder Melky Cabrera was to face his old team back in San Francisco for the first time since a tumultuous 2012 season ended with the Giants electing to delete him from the World Series roster.
Cabrera’s performance in Toronto has been mostly stellar over the past month, and he’s helped make a success of manager John Gibbons’ decision to bat Cabrera, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion atop the order.
But Johnson’s return marks something of a new beginning for the big right-hander; he barely had time to make an impact, with only four starts prior to his injury. And the numbers weren’t flattering — 0-1, 6.86 ERA, and 19.2 innings, 28 hits, and 19 strikeouts and nine walks.
Johnson, naturally, is anticipating his return. He’s in a contract year, meaning he is free agent eligible this coming winter, and the Jays are hoping he has a huge impact on a rotation that has struggled with performance and injuries.