Wanted: timely hits

When a team endures a losing streak there are usually a number of contributing factors that can be pointed to when assessing the damage.

Often, though, there is a certain theme to a club’s losing ways. Something that stands out as a glaring problem that needs to be addressed.

The same can certainly be said about the Jays’ current six-game skid that saw the club get swept twice – first by the rival Red Sox and then by the Atlanta Braves.

Against the Sox, the Jays ran into a solid outing from knuckleballer Tim Wakefield to drop the first contest. And then they got back-to-back shaky performances from rookies Brett Cecil and Bobby Ray, who were quickly shipped back to the minors.

Against the Braves, meanwhile, the Jays managed just four hits off Kenshin Kawakami to waste a solid Roy Halladay outing. Then a lack of offense prevented Casey Janssen from getting a win in his first appearance since 2007. And finally, on Sunday afternoon, Toronto’s bullpen was tagged by the Braves en route to a 10-2 loss, moving the Jays out of first place in the AL East.

But all the while, there was one constant: a lack of offense. More specifically, a lack of timely hitting.

Despite the other aforementioned factors that helped contribute to the Jays’ woes over the last six days, the club still had plenty of opportunities to win. In fact, they could have arguably come away with three or four wins. But it was a lack of hitting in key situations that did them in.

Coming out of a four-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox at Rogers Centre, the Blue Jays entered a three-game set against the Red Sox atop the AL with a .305 batting average with runners in scoring position. They had hit .400 (12-for-30) alone in their previous series. But things quickly changed.

Over their six straight losses on the road, Toronto hit just .143 (7-for-49) with runners in scoring position, dropping their overall mark in those situations to .288. A drastic reduction, indeed. They were 4-for-24 (.167) at Fenway, and 3-for-25 (.120) at Turner Field on the weekend.

Following Sunday’s 10-2 loss, Cito Gaston offered up perhaps the understatement of the year thus far.

“We just can’t get a big hit,” the Jays manager told MLB.com.

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