There’s no rest for the weary in the Blue Jays’ battered bullpen. Their starters aren’t exactly going deep into games.
Esmil Rogers went five innings Saturday night in a 7-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels, and that was the longest outing by a Blue Jays starter during the first three games of this four-game series.
The Blue Jays, trying to avoid finishing last in the AL East for the first time since 2004, are a season-worst 16 games behind first-place Boston and 7 1/2 behind the fourth-place Yankees.
Manager John Gibbons, who has used his bullpen more than any other team, has gotten only 11 innings combined from his starters through the first three games of this series — including 2 1/3 by Josh Johnson and 3 2/3 by and Todd Redmond.
"It’s tough to win that way. It really is," Gibbons said. "I mean, starting pitching is the name of the game, and it’s really hurt us this year."
Rogers (3-6) gave up seven runs — five earned — and 10 hits over five innings.
"I was inconsistent with my pitches tonight," Rogers said. "I’m just going to keep working and try to get better so I can help the team win. I had a couple of good innings tonight, so I’m going to look at video to see what I did good and try to be ready for my next start."
The right-hander is 0-4 with a 6.60 ERA in his last eight starts after back-to-back wins against Texas and Colorado.
"He had some trouble getting some key outs," Gibbons said. "They attacked him good. I think most of their hits were either up the middle or the other way, and that’s what you’ve got to do at this level. We spotted them three again tonight, so it was an uphill battle, and it’s been happening way too much lately. He hung in there before it exploded in the fifth."
Jered Weaver (6-5) pitched into the eighth inning to win his third straight decision, and Kole Calhoun hit his second big league homer in as many days for the Angels.
Weaver allowed three runs, seven hits and two walks through 7 1/3 and struck out five, including the side in the fifth. His streak of consecutive scoreless innings at home was snapped at 26 1/3 when Brett Lawrie led off the third with his ninth home run, but the right-hander still improved to 8-2 lifetime against the Blue Jays.
"We really couldn’t do anything with Weaver, and that’s basically what it came down to," Gibbons said. "He’s an old pro, man. He’s not throwing as hard as he used to, but the good ones make adjustments. … He’s one of the best in the game."
Weaver, who was sidelined for more than seven weeks after breaking a bone in his non-pitching arm in his second start of the season. He already has as many losses as he had all of last season — when he became the Angels’ first 20-game winner since Bartolo Colon in 2005 and pitched a his first career no-hitter.
"There’s nothing I can do about the time I lost. You’ve just got to make up for lost time," Weaver said. "My goals for the rest of the season as just as they were if I wouldn’t have gotten hurt."
The Angels grabbed a 3-0 lead in the first. Mike Trout singled and scored when Mark Trumbo barely beat the relay to first by shortstop Jose Reyes on a potential inning-ending double-play grounder to second baseman Maicer Izturis with the bases loaded. Erick Aybar and Chris Nelson followed with RBI singles.
"We wanted to make Rogers throw strikes," Calhoun said. "We knew he can get a little wild sometimes, so we just took it easy and didn’t try to do too much, just stay up the middle. After my at-bat in the first inning, everybody saw the ball pretty well and started a nice little rally, and that set the tone for the rest of the game."
Los Angeles extended the margin to 7-1 with a four-run fifth that began with a leadoff homer by Calhoun, who drove in the tying and go-ahead runs in Friday night’s 7-5 win with an eighth-inning homer off All-Star reliever Steve Delabar.
Rogers hit Trout on the left arm two pitches later before giving up a single by Josh Hamilton and a run-scoring single by Howie Kendrick. Center fielder Colby Rasmus made a wide throw to the plate trying to get Trout, and catcher J.P. Arencibia threw to second trying to nab Kendrick — but his throw sailed over shortstop Jose Reyes and skipped between Rasmus and right fielder Jose Bautista, allowing Hamilton to score and Kendrick to circle the bases.
NOTES: J.B. Shuck’s "Fosbury Flop" catch in the left field corner on Friday night — somersaulting backward over the short fence to rob Bautista of a two-run homer — must have brought back some sobering memories for longtime Blue Jays fans. On July 14, 1985 at the "Big A," Toronto LF George Bell made a similar play on Brian Downing’s drive against Gary Lavelle, and landed on the other side of that same fence. But it was ruled a game-ending two-run homer by 3B umpire John Shulock, who didn’t believe Bell’s claim that a fan took the ball out of his glove after he disappeared from view.