TORONTO — With all his pitches working, Chase Anderson had no problem handling an overanxious Blue Jays lineup.
Anderson and two relievers combined on a four-hitter, Jonathan Villar homered and the Milwaukee Brewers beat Toronto 2-0 on Wednesday night to hand the struggling Blue Jays their fifth straight loss.
Last-place Toronto is off to the worst start in team history at 1-7.
“We have to figure something out, and the sooner the better,” Blue Jays slugger Josh Donaldson said. “We have to do something to make (opposing pitchers) feel uncomfortable. In my opinion, the pitchers facing us are too comfortable on the mound.”
Anderson (1-0) certainly looked comfortable, allowing three hits in seven innings. He walked two and struck out seven.
“This is the best I’ve seen him,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. “He just had really good stuff.”
Anderson was happy to pound the strike zone against a Blue Jays team that has scored three runs or more only three times in eight games.
“I had command of four pitches today,” he said. “I was able to spot the cutter. I know they’re in swing mode, looking to swing and hit the ball over the fence.”
Corey Knebel pitched the eighth and Neftali Feliz closed for his third save.
Domingo Santana doubled in the second and scored on a two-out double by Keon Broxton. Villar hit a leadoff drive in the sixth, his third home run this season.
Marcus Stroman (1-1) pitched a complete game for the Blue Jays, allowing seven hits.
“Stroman was tremendous,” manager John Gibbons said. “I don’t know how he could have been any better.”
Donaldson returned to Toronto’s lineup as the designated hitter but it did little to spark an offense that has scored 23 total runs. He did not start Tuesday’s home opener because of a sore right calf.
“Some of our better hitters are missing their pitch,” Gibbons said.
Counsell felt good about winning a pair of pitchers’ duels against the power-laden Blue Jays.
“There’s very decorated hitters in the heart of that lineup,” Counsell said. “We probably caught them at a pretty good time, but our guys made pitches and we did a good job with them.”
Anderson retired his first 10 batters before Jose Bautista lined a single to left field. Donaldson walked and both runners advanced on a grounder by Kendrys Morales. Troy Tulowitzki was intentionally walked to load the bases but Russell Martin struck out swinging, extending his season-opening slump to 0 for 20.
“I just knew I’d rather face (Martin) than those other guys, the big power bats,” Anderson said.
Martin doubled in his next at-bat, avoiding matching Pat Borders’ 1991 club mark of 21 hitless at-bats to start a season. Martin was stranded when Steve Pearce flied out to end the inning.
SCENE OF THE CRIME
Brewers reliever Jared Hughes stumbled and fell while trying to catch Santana’s home run into the Milwaukee bullpen on Tuesday. When Hughes walked out to the bullpen Wednesday, he discovered his fellow relievers had used athletic tape to make a mock chalk outline of his fallen body, complete with his jersey number.
YOU COMPLETE ME
Stroman’s complete game was the first for Toronto since R.A. Dickey threw one against Cleveland on Sept. 2, 2015.
Brewers: RHP Matt Garza (strained right groin) allowed one run and two hits over five innings in his first of two rehab starts with Triple-A Colorado Springs. Garza gave up a home run, walked two and struck out four.
Blue Jays: With Donaldson at DH, Morales made his first start of the season at first base.
Brewers: RHP Jimmy Nelson starts Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series at Cincinnati. Nelson went 2-1 with a 3.70 ERA in four starts against the Reds last season. RHP Bronson Arroyo (0-1) starts for Cincinnati.
Blue Jays: LHP Francisco Liriano (0-1) starts the opener of a four-game series against Baltimore. Liriano lasted one-third of an inning in his season-opening loss to Tampa Bay, the shortest start of his career. RHP Kevin Gausman goes for the Orioles.