TORONTO — Certainly, there were a number of things that contributed to the Rays' 7-3 loss to the Jays on Tuesday night.
A less-than-stellar start from Jeff Niemann, including home runs by Jose Bautista and Adam Lind. Subpar relief work, allowing two late runs. More futility at the plate, hitting into four double plays and going 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
But the most costly — and surely the most unexpected — were a team record-tying three errors by two-time Gold Glove winning third baseman Evan Longoria.
Or, on this night, E-E-E-van Longoria.
"A lot of it lies on my shoulders," Longoria said. "It was a rough day. I'm just trying to make the aggressive play, and trying to make the play. And (Tuesday) it happened to not work out three times."
Longoria is widely considered one of the best defensive third basemen in the game. He has not made more than 14 errors in his four seasons in the majors, with a total of 54 in his first 561 games at third. He had had four two-error games but never, not in the minors or majors, a night like Tuesday.
"That's very unlikely," first baseman Carlos Peña said. "He, in my opinion, is the best third baseman in the game."
Each error, in a mostly empty Rogers Centre (announced crowd: 15,331), led to a run.
At the start of the third inning, Longoria misplayed J.P. Arencibia's hard shot, the ball bouncing off his right palm. "All hand,'' Longoria said. "It hurts.''
Three pitches later, he scooped Yunel Escobar's bouncer with a chance to turn a double play, but lost the ball trying to transfer it from his glove, and the Jays went on to score three runs, on a sac fly and Lind's homer.
In the sixth, after the Rays had closed to within 4-2, the Jays had two on and one out when Longoria fielded a tricky slow roller and threw just too wide of first for Peña to hang on, with a run scoring on the play.
"We get out of those innings, it's a different story,'' Longoria said.
Longoria said he felt, strongly, that Arencibia's ball should have been scored a hit, but the other two were definitely his fault.
Others in the Rays clubhouse didn't agree. "Those balls were not easy," Peña said. "Those were very tough, tough plays."
"Those were not routine errors," manager Joe Maddon said. "He'll tell you he's supposed to make every play. They were not easy plays. And I promise you he'll make them in the future."
The Rays (5-6) got behind quickly as Niemann left a pitch up and Bautista, the two-time American League home run champ, knocked it deep into the second deck.
"He's always a threat," Niemann said. "And that's probably the worst pitch you can throw to him right there. It's like putting it on a tee for him."
Longoria's first two errors and the home run from Lind — making him 12-for-27 against Niemann, not quite the "31-for-30" Maddon guessed — put the Rays in the 4-0 hole, and they didn't muster enough offense (two of their 10 hits were Peña shift-"beating" bunts), nor get any breaks, to get out of it.
Pitching continues to be an unexpected problem, as the Rays have allowed a major-league high 64 runs and have a 5.90 ERA.
Especially against a Jays team Maddon has been touting as a legit playoff contender.
"You have to pitch a little bit better,'' Maddon said. "Pitching and defense first, and we'll figure out the rest after that."
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]