I need to find out: Can the ailing Blue Jays prevail against the league leaders?

“I don’t really have time to hang my head”

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Are these desperate times for the slipping Blue Jays, losers from six of their last seven contests and last-place residents in the tough American League East?

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Players don’t have much time to think about it as they attempt to put the ship back together in St. Pete, Fla. as they begin a four-game series against first-place finisher Tampa Bay Rays Monday night.

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“We’re playing the team that’s leading the division for the next four days, so we don’t really have time to hang our heads,” pitcher Kevin Gausman said after Sunday’s 8-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles at the Rogers Centre.

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“We’re going to Tampa and we’re playing a really good team and obviously we have to turn things around. That’s the good thing about baseball: you don’t really have time to think. We have to find out.”

Now down 10 games in 17 games over 17 days, however, the Jays still have a lot to figure out, starting with a much-vaunted offense that’s gone stone cold.

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It is particularly bad for runners in the points position. In Sunday’s loss, the Jays had a dismal 3-for-16 record, with runners in points position and going into play Monday, ranking 24th in Major League Baseball in that category. In their last eight games, the Jays have been an incompetent 8-for-66 team with runners in second or higher.

“Obviously we’re struggling right now,” Gausman said before the team flew to Florida to begin a seven-game, two-city road trip. “The last two series (1-3 against the Yankees and a clear 0-3 against Baltimore) weren’t particularly good for us.”

It won’t be easy against a Rays team that may be struggling with injury but have an impressive 21-4 record at Tropicana Field, a venue that has historically been a nightmare for the Jays be to reverse the field. As of Monday at least, the Visitors have starter Chris Bassitt — who hasn’t conceded a run in his last 27 innings — on the mound to take on Rays Trevor Kelley.

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The Jays are down to 25-22 and have a disheartening 8.5 games behind the Rays (34-14) while also climbing the table with the other three teams in their division.

The Jays’ poor run was uncharacteristic for a team that had preached strong defense and details like moving runners along base paths. Manager John Schneider reckons it will only be a matter of time before they get back on form but has nonetheless faced moments of despair.

“It’s the point where enough is enough,” said Schneider on Sunday. “You’re waiting for it to change. I know it’s going to be like that, but to get there, the boys have to keep busting their asses.”


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