John Schneider says reeling Blue Jays ‘have to get better’
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Their latest loss prompted the Toronto Blue Jays players to call an aftermath briefing in response to a 9-2 loss that manager John Schneider described as a “straight punch in the face.”
“We have to get better,” Schneider said after Thursday’s 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. “When it comes to us as employees, the expectations are put right in front of you. There is an urgency that one must have in order to meet these expectations. Wins and losses are out the window, the last 10 days are over.” “It’s been great and I feel the urgency to meet those expectations isn’t there.”
“Yeah, that’s up to me and the players…Ultimately up to me,” Schneider added. “If the players recognize that and bring it to their attention, that will carry a lot more weight than any individual staff member trying to get angry or look them in the face.”
Zach Eflin became the third winner in seven major league games by defeating the ailing Alek Manoah as the Rays won three of four games against the Blue Jays.
Eflin (7-1) allowed a run and six hits in seven innings while the major league leaders Rays (37-15) stole seven bases for the second time this season and went 24-5 at home. He was one of the top pitchers in the Big League along with teammates Shane McClanahan (8-0) and Joe Ryan (7-1) from Minnesota.
“Elite pitch execution,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash. “Getting them to swing at the start of the count and not propel the ball speaks to Zach’s talent.”
Manoah (1-5), a 16-game winner last year, extended his winning streak to nine starts after giving up five runs, three hits and five walks with six strikeouts over three innings. He threw just 44 of 87 pitches for strikes and his ERA rose from 5.15 to 5.53, ranking 68th out of 72 qualified pitchers this season (his ERA of 2.24 last season was fourth lowest) .
The Rays stole five bases while he was on the mound.
“We know we’re better than we’re playing,” Manoah said. “We just have to stick together and keep fighting.”
Toronto (26-25) is 8-15 in May. The Blue Jays are 6-15 in division play after going 43-33 last year. They are 10½ behind the Rays and the teams have only met in six games in the final ten days of the season.
“We’re all grown men here,” said Matt Chapman, the Blue Jays’ third baseman. “It is up to us. We are the ones on the field. Our coaches can’t hold our hands. We have to go out there and find ways to win games.”
“We have to communicate with each other and try to make each other better because we are a team. We want to win, and if we want to win a division or play in the playoffs, it’s up to us to find ways to get there.” “We’re back on track. It’s up to none other than us.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.