TORONTO â€” Keon Broxton and Domingo Santana homered as the Milwaukee Brewers edged Toronto 4-3 Tuesday to spoil the Blue Jays’ home opener and extend their early-season misery.
At 1-6, Toronto is off to its worst start ever.
The Jays have lost six straight home openers and seven of their last eight. The last win was against Minnesota in 2011.
Troy Tulowitzki drove in three runs for Toronto with two doubles â€” both on 0-2 counts â€” and a sacrifice fly. The Jays shortstop came into the game 3-of-24 but had six RBI.
Tulowitzki and Kendrys Morales accounted for all five of Toronto’s hits.
Jays starter J.A. Happ (0-2) was pulled in the fifth after a 102-pitch outing that yielded four runs, nine hits, eight strikeouts and more than a few hard hit balls.
The Toronto bullpen â€” Dominic Leone, Joe Smith, Joe Biagini, Jason Grilli and Roberto Osuna in his season debut after being sidelined by neck spasms â€” retired 13 of the next 16 Brewer batters.
Osuna gave up a single in a 14-pitch ninth inning. Neftali Feliz pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for the Brewers (3-5) for his second save with pinch-hitter Josh Donaldson, who started on the bench because of a sore calf, striking out.
Despite a glorious day outside, the Rogers Centre roof â€” which just completed a two-year $10-million retrofit â€” was closed. It was 20 degrees Celsius inside, 14 outside as the Jays took the field before a sellout crowd of 48,456 fans waving giveaway rally towels.
Tuesday was the Blue Jays’ 41st home opener (26-15) and their 28th (16-12) at Rogers Centre. It marked their first ever interleague home opener.
Happ and Milwaukee starter Wily Peralta (2-0) also faced off the last time the Brewers came to the Rogers Centre â€” in July 2014
Peralta went six innings Tuesday, giving up three runs on five hits with four walks and seven strikeouts in a 112-pitch evening.
Broxton slammed Happ’s seventh pitch â€” a 93.1 m.p.h. fastball â€” 379 feet off the wall behind the Jays’ bullpen. Travis Shaw tripled off the centre-field wall with two outs, just eluding Kevin Pillar’s glove, and came home on Santana’s single.
Tulowitzki doubled home a run in the bottom of the first.
Milwaukee’s Manny Pina came within inches of homering in the second but had to settle for a single after his 359-foot blast bounced back off the top of the right-field wall and Jose Bautista rifled the ball back to the infield.
Broxton extended the lead to 3-1 in the third when he singled, stole second and moved to third on a groundout, scoring on a fielder’s choice when Devon Travis’s throw home pulled Russell Martin slightly off the plate.
Tulowitzki’s sacrifice fly in the third cut the lead to 3-2.
Happ escaped a 31-pitch fourth inning, with the Brewers unable to take advantage of men on first and second with no outs. But he did not finish the fifth as Santana homered with two out to make it 4-2, sending the ball 377 feet into the Brewers’ bullpen for a 4-2 lead.
Tulowitzki doubled home Morales to trim the lead by one in the fifth. And he came to the plate with men on first and second with two outs, only to ground into a forceout.
Pillar drew cheers with a diving catch in the eighth.
As for the slow start to the season, the Jays were looking ahead rather than back.
“It’s a long season, it’s a marathon,” Martin said before the game. “If you compare it to maybe a 15-round fight, we’re barely into the first minute of the fight right now so I don’t think there’s going to be much panic in this locker-room. We’ve got a lot of guys who have a lot of talent, a lot of belief in themselves.”
Martin, who struck out three times on the night, is 0-for-18 this season at the plate.
Manager John Gibbons was also sanguine prior to the game.
“I’ve got a ton of confidence in the guys. They’re confident. But you never like a start like we’ve have. But at this point there’s nothing you can do about that.”
Going into the home opener, Toronto had been held to two runs or less in four of its six starts.
While Toronto’s slow start came on the road, Milwaukee stumbled out of the gate at home. Tuesday marked the Brewers’ first away game â€” the start of a nine-game road trip.
It was the start of a nine-game Toronto homestand that also features visit by Baltimore and Boston.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press