The slumping Blue Jays fired hitting coach Mike Barnett on Monday and replaced him with first-base coach Mickey Brantley. They have lost seven of eight, including a three-game sweep against Baltimore this past weekend while being outscored 24-7.
Toronto is batting .270, seventh in the AL. The Blue Jays’ 95 runs ranked sixth in the league. Last year, they scored only 719 runs last year, next-to-last in the AL, and hit .260, which ranked 12th.
“This isn’t a knee-jerk reaction, it’s something we’ve been watching closely for the last year. We’re starting to get into the same habits we were in last year,” general manager J.P. Ricciardi said during a conference call.
“Before this thing steamrolled on us, we thought now was the right time to make a move. We were starting to get into the same patterns. We weren’t scoring runs, we left a lot of guys on base, our situational hitting is not good.”
Playing their 17th game in as many days, the Blue Jays managed just five hits in a 7-1 loss to the Orioles Sunday.
Toronto did not have a hit until Orlando Hudson singled off Sidney Ponson with one out in the sixth inning. Vernon Wells followed with a base hit, but Corey Koskie struck out and Shea Hillenbrand flied out. Hudson, one of the few Blue Jays not struggling, has a 10-game hitting streak.
Tampa Bay had a three-game winning streak snapped with an 11-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Sunday. The seventh inning featured two bench-clearing scuffles and Brazelton was one of six players ejected.
The Blue Jays could have a good chance to get a win in this game, as they face the Devil Rays’ Dewon Brazelton—who is 0-12 in 16 career road starts.
“He’ll win on the road. Not necessarily on Tuesday, but hopefully,” Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said.