John Schneider says floundering Blue Jays ‘need to get better’

ESPN news servicesMay 25, 2023, 5:40 PM ETRead for 3 minutes

Josh Lowe’s double pads Rays’ lead

Josh Lowe drives in a run with a double to give the Rays a 3-1 lead.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Their latest loss prompted Toronto Blue Jays players to hold a postgame rally in response to a 2-9 stretch manager John Schneider described as “punched right 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 a staff, expectations are put right in front of you. There’s an urgency that it takes to meet those expectations. Wins and losses out the window, the last 10 days haven’t been great, And I think the urgency with which those expectations are trying to be met isn’t there.”

“Yes, that’s up to me and the players…Ultimately up to me.” Schneider added. “If the players recognize that, and if the players draw attention to that, it will carry a lot more weight than one of the staff trying to get angry or trying to get in their face.”

Zach Eflin became the third major league winner of seven games in the victory over struggling Alek Manoah as the Rays took three of four from the Blue Jays.

Eflin (7-1) gave up one run and six hits in seven innings as the Major League-leading Rays (37-15) stole seven bases for the second time this season and improved at home to 24-5. He joined Minnesota teammate Shane McClanahan (8-0) and Joe Ryan (7-1) as the winningest pitchers in the league.

“Elite pitch performance,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash. “To get them to swing early in the count and not float the ball speaks to Zach’s stuff.”

Manoah (1-5), a 16-game winner last year, extended his winless streak to nine starts after giving up five runs, three hits and five walks in three innings with six strikeouts. He threw only 44 of 87 pitches for strikes and his ERA climbed from 5.15 to 5.53, ranking him 68th of 72 qualified pitchers this season (his 2.24 ERA last season was fourth lowest).

The Rays stole five bases while he was on the mound.

“We know we are better than we are playing now,” said Manoah. “We just have to stick together and we just have to keep fighting.”

Toronto (26-25) is May 8-15. The Blue Jays are 6-15 in divisional play after being 43-33 last year. They trail the Rays by 10½ and the teams only meet again in six games during the last 10 days of the season.

This report uses information from The Associated Press.

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