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Jays lose finale to Royals, drop third straight series

Chris Bassitt Toronto Blue Jays Chris Bassitt - The Canadian Press

TORONTO — Chris Bassitt does not like how he or his Toronto Blue Jays have started 2024.

Bassitt allowed three runs on four hits, all in the sixth inning, while striking out four as Toronto fell to the Kansas City Royals 6-1 on Wednesday afternoon.

Although he improved his earned-run average to 5.45 from 5.64, Bassitt couldn't hide his frustration.

"I'll just keep worrying about what I can control and that's obviously what I did today," said Bassitt. "I'm beyond frustrated about what the hell's going on."

Bassitt said he made adjustments after he allowed seven runs in 2 2/3 innings in a 12-2 loss to the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers on April 26. His struggles to start the season are a step down after he finished last season with a career-best 16 wins, a 3.60 ERA and 186 strikeouts, reaching 200 innings pitched for the first time ever.

"I mean, I got a 5.50 ERA and I feel like I had one bad game and it's just yeah, I'm just pissed," said Bassitt.

Michael Massey hit a three-run homer and drove in another run with a groundout as Kansas City (19-13) won for the second time in a row. Bobby Witt Jr. and Salvador Perez both had RBI singles in the sixth.

Seth Lugo (5-1) was superb, striking out eight and allowing just two hits and two walks over seven innings. Relievers Chris Stratton and Nick Anderson preserved the Royals' win.

Danny Jansen's solo home run in the seventh inning was the best that Toronto's offence could do. The Blue Jays (15-17) have lost five of their past seven games.

Trevor Richards, Nate Pearson and Brendon Little came out of Toronto's bullpen, with Pearson giving up three runs.

Bassitt had a no hitter going through five innings, retiring the first 11 of the first 12 batters he faced, issuing one walk in the first.

"We didn’t threaten (Bassitt) at all the first five innings," said Royals manager Matt Quatraro. "We maybe squared one ball up. He had everything working."

It could have been 12 outs in the first 13 batters Bassitt faced, but a video review that his pitch had brushed Perez's knuckles to award a free base in the fourth. Bassitt bore down and struck out Massey in the next at bat, however, to erase the call against him.

Blue Jays manager John Schneider was angry that the play was even reviewed. By Major League Baseball rules, a swing negates any hit-by-pitch call. Swings are a non-reviewable play in MLB, so an on-field ruling that Perez's bat didn't cross the plate for a third strike had to be made to allow the review of the potential hit by pitch to even happen.

"I think it was pretty obvious the ball hit him and it was even more obvious that he took a full swing. So, by the rules, he's out," said Schneider. "I know it looks minute because Chris strikes the next hitter up, strikes Massey out, but it means down the road everyone comes up a little bit sooner.

"I thought that was a terrible call."

Bassitt started to struggle in the sixth.

Witt singled to score Kyle Isbel, who had reached base with a leadoff double. In the next at bat, Vinnie Pasquantino advanced the all-star shortstop to third with a double.

"I think I made truly one bad pitch all day," said Bassitt, referring to Pasquantino's double. "Outside of that. I didn't make a single bad pitch."

Perez brought Witt home with a single and Massey grounded out, allowing Pasquantino to score for a 3-0 Kansas City lead.

Jansen finally answered back for Toronto in the seventh, launching his third homer of the season 364 feet into the home bullpen where Zach Pop of Brampton, Ont., and Pearson were warming up to replace Richards.

It brought the 32,307 fans at Rogers Centre to their feet and was only the second hit the Blue Jays got off Lugo after Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had a single in the first.

Massey had his second home run of the series and the season in the next inning. He took a Pearson curveball from Pearson 357 feet to score Witt and Pasquantino for a 6-1 Royals lead.

SHOW ME MANOAH — Alek Manoah pitched six innings for the triple-A Buffalo Bisons on Tuesday, allowing one run on two hits and two walks, striking out 12. It was Manoah's fifth rehab start as he recovers from shoulder inflammation. Schneider said it was "encouraging, very encouraging."

ON DECK — The Blue Jays have Thursday off before travelling to Washington, D.C., on Friday to face the Nationals.

Kansas City also has the day off before hosting the Texas Rangers on Friday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 1, 2024.