In a game delayed nearly 2 1/2 hours by rain at Comerica Park, left-hander Mark Buehrle was betrayed by his defence.
The 32-year-old has reached the stage of his career where he needs some plays behind him if he is to win and make it a 13th straight season with 200-plus innings. But if things don’t improve, he won’t make it through the season.
The fact the Jays stormed back to win a sloppy affair, rallying from a five-run deficit for an 8-6 victory, is less cause for celebration than a feeling of relief. The Jays rallied for three in the sixth and four more in the seventh, capped by a three-run double by J.P. Arencibia to complete the comeback.
The bottom line is Toronto sorely needs Brett Lawrie back as quickly as possible. The club announced that Lawrie, out of action since injuring his left ribcage on March 6, was slated to play an extended spring training game in Dunedin on Thursday. It will be his first game action in 36 days, and Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos suggests he may return as early as April 19.
The Jays need Lawrie’s glove more than his bat. In the first two innings of Buehrle’s start that lasted just 4 2/3 innings, second baseman Emilio Bonifacio failed to turn an inning-ending double play that led to the first run and later bobbled a ground ball hit directly at him, leading to the second run.
There were signs of life from the 3-4 spots in the Jays’ order, a positive sign moving forward as Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion combined for three hits and two walks, scoring four times in the two important innings. Mark DeRosa chipped in with three RBIs.
When Lawrie eventually returns to third base, manager John Gibbons will have the option of moving Maicer Izturis to second and having Bonifacio come off the bench as a super-sub.
“I don’t think the team’s built on one player,” Anthopoulos said of his injured third baseman. “I don’t think it’s fair to say, ‘Brett comes back and all of a sudden we’re going to take off.’ But there’s no question (about) what he does defensively.”