TORONTO — The Rays know, obviously, they’re not going to win it all.
Winning their first 13 games was historic, matching the modern-day record shared by the 1982 Braves and 1987 Brewers to start a season.
Even more impressive was how they did it, a formidable offense, precision pitching and dazzling defense leading to a remarkable run that garnered national attention.
It all came down to disappointment — relatively speaking — Friday when the Blue Jays played an overall poor game in a 6-3 loss to the Jays and missed a chance to come away with a 14th straight win.
“Losing is even worse,” starter Drew Rasmussen said. “It’s one of those things, the way we lost, that’s a little frustrating.”
Because they lost rays:
• Rasmussen wasn’t sharp, allowing eight hits and, annoyingly for him, needed 93 pitches to get four walks, 13 strikeouts in four-plus innings.
• Reliever Colin Boche had an “awkward” outing, admitting to walking back-to-back runs on nine pitches.
• Shortstop Vander Franco and second baseman Brandon Lowe, somewhat inexplicably, allowed an inning-ending double play to score two runs.
• And an offense that averaged eight runs per game was held to three, two on solo homers after going down five.
“It’s really bad that it happened in the middle of everything that’s going on,” Lowe said. “But it happened. It’s over. We’ve got 140-plus games left. And we can’t get hung up on one loss.
They had much to be proud of.
The 13 wins broke the franchise record for most consecutive wins at any point in a season (12 by the 2004 team) and tied the streak for the second-longest all-time in major-league play, behind the suddenly famous 1884 St. Louis Maroons. Top 20 winners during a year of Union Association play.
“I appreciate it now,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “I’m very impressed with what I’ve seen over the past two weeks. When you’re talking about a group from 1884, you’re doing something really beautiful. So I’m very impressed.
Rasmussen, who pitched 13 scoreless innings in his first two starts, put the Rays in a hole by allowing a homer to George Springer in his second pitch and allowing 12 of the 23 batters he faced to reach base.
“It’s my job to set the tone, so it falls on me,” he said. “You can’t have four walks in four innings because of the lack of competitiveness. And it’s a frustrating way — this team was in such good shape, all I had to do was fill (the strike zone) and trust our defense, and I just couldn’t execute that (Friday).”
The game broke into a chaotic fifth as the Jays extended their lead from 2-1 to 6-1.
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Rasmussen opened it up by allowing singles to Bo Pichet and Wladimir Guerrero Jr. He struck out Matt Chapman before picking off Cash Boche.
That turned out to be a bad move, with Boche getting pinch-hitter Alejandro Kirk on four pitches to add a run and Santiago Espinal on five (a first-pitch strike, followed by four balls) to add another run.
“It’s embarrassing, to be honest,” Boche said. “The most disappointing part is that they didn’t beat me, it was all self-inflicted.”
Things got worse when Danny Johnson hit a grounder to Franco that should have been an inning-ending double play, but Lowe missed the throw, allowing two more runs.
“It’s taken off, a whole mix of different things,” Lowe said. “It’s something that needs to be done.”
Still, 13-1 isn’t a bad way to start a season.
“Sure,” Lowe said. “Thirteen straight, winning the way we did, that’s great. I think everyone probably knows that 162-0 is out of the question. But it’s been a great run. The best thing about losing a streak is you start a new one. So, come out tomorrow and start a new streak.” Be ready to start.
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