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Blue Jays dealt surprising loss by Athletics

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OAKLAND — Desperately in need of a soft spot in the schedule to right their ship, the Blue Jays should have found just that on Monday night.

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Their ace, Alek Manoah, was on the mound, after all, and they were facing the team with the poorest record and worst offence in all of baseball.

Baseball doesn’t always work that way, unfortunately for the Toronto team.

And instead of a morale-boosting win, the Blue Jays fell 5-1 to the Athletics here, staggering to the midway point of the season with a fourth consecutive defeat.

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Manoah certainly wasn’t at his best, making it through just 5.2 innings and allowing a season-high five runs (four earned.) But the Jays had no offence to support him as lefty A’s starter Cole Irvin retired the first 11 batters he faced and allowed just one run.

With a record of 44-37, the Jays are now on pace for just 88 wins, which would be a three-game regression from their 91-win campaign of 2021.

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On one level, the latest misstep could have been expected, even though it came against a team that had previously won just eight of its previous 36 at home and had lost 25 of their previous 31 overall.

The Jays, after all, had just played five games in roughly 72 hours and flew to the Bay Area following Sunday’s loss. That wasn’t an easy itinerary, either, as the team didn’t arrive at its hotel here until midnight.

But on the other, it wasn’t exactly a rousing start of a seven-game Western road trip, all against teams with inferior records.

Trouble for Manoah came right off the hop as the A’s jumped all over him in the first inning. On Matt Chapman’s return to Oakland, his former teammates weren’t all that hospitable in that three-run opening frame, highlighted by a two-RBI double by Elvis Andrus.

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The Athletics added solo homers from Ramon Laureano in the fifth and Stephen Vogt in the sixth, which typified the rugged outing for Manoah, whose record fell to 9-3 on the season.

GAME ON

The lone Jays run came in the fourth when a sharply hit Vlad Guerrero Jr. double was followed by an RBI single from Alejandro Kirk … With Manoah’s struggles, manager Charlie Montoyo had to get to his bullpen earlier than expected. And with the lopsided score and his team’s dormant bats, that facilitated the debut of recently acquired Anthony Banda, who was activated just prior to the game. Banda allowed one hit in a scoreless seventh … With closer Jordan Romano in need of some work, Montoyo sent him out to pitch the eighth, a three-up, three-down affair … The four-game losing streak is the Jays’ second-longest of the season … Mercifully, the game took just 2:27 to complete, one of the shortest of the season.

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