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Home opener festivities can’t awaken Blue Jays’ offence

Shi Davidi | posted Wednesday, Apr 12th, 2017

TORONTO – The typical home opener pomp and circumstance abounded Tuesday night, with extended pre-game introductions, a massive flag stretched across the outfield for O Canada, and a nifty little ceremonial first pitch from Tim Raines to Roberto Alomar, incoming Hall of Famer to current Cooperstowner.

A new banner celebrating the 2016 victories in the wild card and American League Division Series was hanging in the rafters. The Rogers Centre was jumping. Welcome back, baseball.

Still missing, however, is the Toronto Blue Jays offence, an increasingly worrying issue for which neither an off-day, nor a return home, nor a date with the gut-the-joint rebuilding Milwaukee Brewers could serve as a panacea. A 4-3 setback represented a fourth straight loss – not to mention a sixth straight home opener defeat – and a 1-6 mess now ranks as the worst opening to a season in franchise history.

Once again a lineup with the pedigree to be a difference-maker – even with Josh Donaldson sitting out as a precaution due to the tightness that developed in his right calf Sunday – was the prime culprit.

Yes, J.A. Happ wasn’t sharp in allowing four runs – including solo home runs to Keon Broxton in a two-run first and Domingo Santana in the fifth – but Kendrys Morales accounted for three of the Blue Jays’ five hits, with Troy Tulowitzki responsible for the other two, along with all three RBI.

The star shortstop has driven in nine of his team’s 23 runs, a stunning 39 per cent, with Morales behind him at six RBI, good for 26 per cent.

To dabble in understatement, that’s not a formula for winning.

“We’ve run into some good pitching, maybe haven’t had our best swings,” said Tulowitzki. “It’s still early. I’ve talked to guys not only on our team but my friends around the league and you want to find that comfort level when you step into the box. And you want to find the comfort level of your cage work and I don’t think we’re quite there yet.

“Hopefully that will come quicker but sometimes it takes some time.”

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