Time to avoid fire sale

* LHP Mark Buehrle says it's time -- the Blue Jays "stink" and it's time to turn things around before there is a fire sale. ....

By Bob Elliott

HOUSTON _ It’s time.

Time to turn it around warned Mark Buehrle -- leaving out the or else -- telling reporters “before they have a fire sale, start moving guys out, moving guys up and down.”

After pitching the Blue Jays first complete game of the season, Buehrle also issued the “we stink,” comment.

The Jays lost 4-2 to the Houston Astros on a tie-breaking, sixth-inning homer by Colby Rasmus Sunday afternoon at Minute Maid to finish the trip 1-6.

They dropped two of three at Camden Yards in Baltimore and were swept in the four-game series at Houston.

It’s time.

“Time to make adjustments,” said Edwin Encarnacion after the Blue Jays 1-6 trip mark equals the fifth worst in the 39-year history of the franchise.

It was awful.

And it was “irrelevant,” according to Jose Bautista.

“The trip was irrelevant, it doesn’t matter what we did on this trip,” said Bautista. “The only games that matter now are the ones we have left.

“If we had gone 6-1 on this trip would they be putting crowns on our head? No.”

Yet fifth worst in franchise history when a team average 12 or 13 per season. Mull that around your noggin for a while.

“You mean those 1992-93 teams never had a bad trip?” Bautista asked. 

Not one where they failed to win, or only had one win. You can look it up.

“So, they might have had a two-win trip? This trip could have been one shy worse than one of those teams?” asked Bautista.

The Jays were a .500 team (16-16) sitting in third place in the wide-open American League East when they headed on the road. They return home five games below .500 (17-22) in last place, five games back of the New York Yankees and 4 1/2 games behind the Minnesota Twins, who own the second wild-card spot. 

Newcomers Russell Martin and Josh Donaldson familiar to post-season play didn’t figure they were joining a last place team.

Martin said he’s an optimistic person, saying “I’ve been in a few situations when a team isn’t playing so well, you’re five or six games under .500, you find some life, get some guys back from the disabled list, win a couple of games in a row and start to feel better about yourself.”

Donaldson said that the talent is here and “every teams goes through ups and downs ... right now we’re not on top. We haven’t beaten ourselves on this trip. They beat us.”

Buehrle’s complete game was the 30th of his career as he threw 111 pitches (73 strikes) and allowed six hits: two singles, two doubles and two homers.

“I’m stating the obvious, we stink,” Buehrle told reporters. “We’re not playing very good on any aspect. When we’re pitching good, we’re not hitting. When we hit and score, we’re not doing a good job pitching, we’re not holding them.”

In other words, if it’s not one thing, it’s another.

And then Buehrle issued what was either the forecast or a prediction about how it was time for the Jays to change their evil ways ... and quickly “before another fire sale and we start selling guys.” Buehrle was part of the Miami Marlins fire sale after the 69-win 2012 season, which brought him to the Jays. “We’ve got to do something because we have the talent. We’re just not playing very well.” 

Speaking of the those whacky Marlins, owner Jeffrey Loria fired manager Mike Redmond after his club fell to 16-22 Sunday afternoon.

Where do the Jays go from Minute Maid Park?

Well, they headed to airport Sunday night for their charter flight home and a Monday matinee against the Los Angeles Angels at the Rogers Centre.

After that we’re not sure.

Do they win?

Do they continue to lose as the fires are stoked?

In Game: The Jays threatened in the ninth when Kevin Pillar and pinch hitter Justin Smoak each singled with one out. Luke Gregerson, the free agent who chose the Astros over the Jays this winter, then struck out Steve Tolleson, who had doubled twice earlier, and popped up Ezequiel Carrera to end it. ... Encarnacion made a fine fielding play on Rasmus throwing to Buehrle covering for the final out of the eighth ... Third baseman Donaldson climbed the ladder to steal a base hit from Jake Marisnick in the fifth ... The Astros tied the score 2-2 in the fourth when Buehrle issued two walks and a two-out double to Jonathan Villar. Chris Colabello continued his hot streak with a lead-off double and scored on a Ryan Goins fly ball for a 2-1 lead in the fourth ... The Jays first run came in the second inning when Tolleson hit the first of his two doubles and scored on a fly ball by Bautista ... Luis Valbuena homered on Buehrle’s 14th pitch of the game to give the Astros the lead. 

When it counts: The Jays were 1-for-6 (.167) hitting with men in scoring position and 11-for-46 (.239) on the trip. Take out the win in Baltimore when the Jays had four hits and they were 7-for-34 (.206) ... In Houston Aaron Loup lost a two-run lead Thursday in 10 pitches and Saturday Jeff Francis, pitching because Loup was injured and Liam Hendricks gave up a one-run lead in an 11-pitch span.

The manager says: “I love everything about Donaldson, I’ve been saying it since he got here. The guy plays to win. Martin, the same way, you know Buehrle. They’re pro’s pros. You can never have enough of those guys.” _ Manager John Gibbons happy the hear defeat was not resting lighting upon the shoulders of those in the clubhouse.

Colby called it: There were a few snickers talking to Colby Rasmus before Thursday’s game when the former Blue Jays centre fielder said:

“We’re going for the sweep,” said Rasmus, now the Houston Astros every day left fielder, who headed south this winter as a free agent.

Rasmus hit a tie-breaking homer off Mark Buehrle in the sixth inning on the way to a 4-2 Astros win. Can this putrid Blue Jays season, billed as one in which they would contend in the wide-open American League East, get any worse than this?

The Rasmus bravado wasn’t quite Mark Messier “guaranteeing” a New York Rangers playoff win, but Rasmus proved  prophetic.

Tied for fifth worst: Losing two of three in Baltimore and all four in Houston made for a 1-6 trip, tied for the fifth worst in franchise history and that’s a lot of miles, airports and ball parks when the Jays made average either 12 or 13 trips per season.

The 2009 Jays (who once went 0-9) won 75 games under Cito Gaston. The 1979 Jays (0-6) won 53 times for Roy Hartsfield and the 2007 Jays (0-6) won 83 times for John Gibbons. The 2002 Jays (1-7) won 78 games under Buck Martinez and Carlos Tosca.

One trip does not a season make, but it can be an indicator. 

Eight other teams had 1-6 trips. So, of all those seasons of zero win and one-win trips, the Jays went on to have five winning seasons out of 13 with the team’s average win total winding up as 73.

No Devon: Second baseman Devon Travis had an injection in his right shoulder after leaving Saturday’s loss in the seventh inning and did not play. He hopes to be in the lineup Monday. Travis was originally injured when he took a hard smash off his collarbone May 1 in Cleveland.

Since the injury, Travis is hitting .185 and .271 on the season. 

Healthy again: Lefty Aaron Loup was available for use on Sunday. He injured his back Friday which is why manager John Gibbons went to Jeff Francis with two left-handed hitters coming up after Marco Estrada’s exit with a 3-2 lead. 

Numbers: Mark Buehrle’s complete game (No. 30) ranks him third amongs active pitchers, behind CC Sabathia (38) of the New York Yankees and Bartolo Colon (35) of the New York Mets. It was the Jays’ first complete game since Marcus Stroman beat the New York Yankees Sept. 8, 2014 ... Josh Donaldson was hitless but was hit with a pitch so has now reached safely in 35 games against the Astros, which is the longest active streak in the majors ... Steve Tolleson’s two doubles in the same game were his first since May 7, 2014 against the Phillies ... Russell Martin hit a ground rule double into the right field corner and in his last 14 games is batting .412 (21-for-51) with five doubles, a triple and four homers.