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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Winning streaks come in all shapes and sizes.
Some hit double digits and take a team from fringe contender to the thick of a race.
Some are built against the best teams in the league, while still others are reeled off against bottom feeders.
And some barely come at all.
Perhaps breathing easier after winning four in a row at home to the lowly Baltimore Orioles, reality bit back for the Blue Jays Monday at Tropicana Field where they fell 8-4 to the Tampa Bay Rays.
The loss ended the Jays modest winning run and you still have to go back almost 13 months to the previous time they won five straight. If there's any hope of getting into even the pretense of a playoff race, they'll need to reel off much more than such a modest run.
"We've been playing better ball lately but consistency's been a big deal for us," Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Combine all phases of the game whether it be defence, hitting, pitching.... that's been our issue."
Of course with key players missing from the lineup, it is becoming increasingly difficult to develop such consistency and to see a realistic long winning skein happening.
Though the Rays aren't exactly a juggernaut, the Jays continue to find the Trop their personal house of horrors, a stadium where they have dropped nine of their past 13 contests.
The Rays, meanwhile, have had injury woes of their own and had lost nine of 10 before facing their Toronto tonic.
But Monday's game was typical of what has troubled the Jays much of this season. Three times they held a lead only to give it back in the bottom of the inning then watched the Rays score five unanswered runs to cruise to victory.
The loudest damage came off the bat of Rays rookie Jake Bauers who rocked a shot over the right field wall in the fourth inning to give the hosts a 5-4 lead that would not be relinquished.
The first career home run marked the end of Jays pitcher Sam Gaviglio's night as the fill-in starter bobbled for the first time in his last handful of outings.
There was never point in reading too much into the home sweep over the O's over this past weekend unless it was continued against more worthy opposition, but at least there had been some positive signs.
The starting rotation was picking up steam, the offence was connecting and the possibility of momentum was in the conversation.
Ultimately, however this is a team that is still waiting for Marcus Stroman to return from shoulder fatigue (and may have to wait for another week and change to see him). Of course they also need Stroman not only to return to the lineup but to his excellent form of 2017.
While the offence has improved of late, it's still without third baseman Josh Donaldson, who continues to work his way past a bothersome calf strain.
Any day now it's going to be essential for Donaldson to launch a sustained run of high-end performance to help maximize his pending free agency value, not to mention Jays trade deadline options.
That again, typifies this struggling Jays team, which fell to 30-36 in front of a crowd of 10,769. Right now - as has been the case for much of the season - it's a team that's too thin in too many places and not exactly constructed for lengthy winning streaks.
ON THE ROTATION
The Jays entered Monday's game riding a season-best seven quality starts, a positive sign given that the rotation was supposed to be a strength entering the season.
That ended with a thud as Gaviglio came back to earth, for one night anyway.
After pitching seven shoutout innings against the Yankees last week - a career high - the right-hander was knocked around by the Rays, exiting after 3.1 innings and allowing seven hits and five earned runs.
Gaviglio struggled out of the gate allowing a couple of hits and a run scored in the first and never truly settled after that.
"He was off with his command, that's the name of his game," Gibbons said of Gaviglio, who is far from overpowering on the mound. "Just look at his ball and strikes ratio. That was the big issue."
FEELING LEFT OUT
Rays starter Ryan Yarbrough wasn't exactly flashing Cy Young form but he had one deadly element as it relates to Jays hitters, he throws with his left arm.
The Jays have lost a franchise-record 11 consecutive games against port-sided starters and are 8-18 overall against lefties overall this season.
Yarbrough was able to last six innings, however, giving up seven hits and four runs including a two-run homer to Teoscar Hernandez, who has four home runs and 10 RBI in his past 10 games.
Jays reliever John Axford went from an efficient four-pitch, 1-2-3 effort in the sixth inning to disaster in the seventh.
After loading the bases with none out, Axford bobbled a Joey Wendle grounder to the mound and in trying to get the force out at home threw it wide right of Jays catcher Russell Martin.
As the ball went all the way to the wall, two Rays runners scored (one unearned) to open up a 7-4 lead. It was another example of the way things go here for Gibbons team. What could have been a double-play ball instead turned into a nightmare
AROUND THE BASES
In what was a rocky night for the Jays pitchers, the Rays rapped out nine hits while getting three more on base via walks and two by hit batsmen . . . With the loss, the Jays popped back into fourth place in the AL East after enjoying one day ahead of the Rays. They are now 14.5 games behind the AL East leading Yankees.