The Monday night crowd of 25,275 was small by Citizens Bank Park standards, which made for a sea of blue seats when Jose Reyes launched a Kyle Kendrick sinker at 7:10 p.m. Just one minute into a 3-0 Phillies loss, few had settled in and Toronto led.
A quick deficit was not ideal, but it is not what sentenced the Phillies to a wasted night. Not when the Blue Jays started J.A. Happ, limited in pitches because he spent the previous 12 days unused, with a porous bullpen behind him. Toronto relievers lugged a 5.33 ERA to Philadelphia, even worse than the Phillies' condemned unit.
Happ tossed five scoreless innings. Four Blue Jays relievers with ERAs of 6.28, 5.02, 3.86 and 3.95 fashioned a shutout that lacked drama. The Phillies were silenced with ease by Happ, a development that surprised Ben Revere, their centerfielder.
"We faced him a lot this spring," Revere said. "We thought we could get out there and get after him."
Happ, once traded by the Phillies to Houston for Roy Oswalt, allowed five runs to the Phillies on seven hits and five walks in 32/3 innings during Grapefruit League play. He had not pitched since April 23. That mattered none.
He posted five zeros on 80 pitches. He threw 87 pitches over his first three outings, all of which came in relief. His scoreless outing was just his fourth such start since the beginning of the 2012 season.
"I do like coming back here," Happ said. "I have really good memories here."
Happ was not pristine; four walks provided the Phillies numerous opportunities to score. They left the bases loaded in the second and stranded two more in the third. Revere started Happ's night with a single. Two batters later, he was caught stealing.
The best chance for a run arrived once Happ finished. Righthander Esmil Rogers inherited the sixth inning, and Marlon Byrd greeted him with a triple to center. Ryan Howard skied one to right. Byrd tagged up. Jose Bautista fired a missile to home, and Josh Thole swiped his glove at Byrd for the out.
Ryne Sandberg requested a review. The umpires spent 65 seconds to determine that Thole correctly blocked the plate. From Toronto's view, it was a beautiful baseball play.
"We couldn't get the big hit," Sandberg said.
The manager's altered lineup was punchless. He started Freddy Galvis and Jayson Nix on the left side of the infield. Galvis batted second, despite his .032 batting average, once the Phillies decided to rest Jimmy Rollins' achy groin for one night. (Rollins pinch-hit and flied out in the ninth.)
Galvis notched his first hit in 24 at-bats, a single in the third. But he batted in the seventh representing the tying run and stuck out on an Aaron Loup breaking ball. Carlos Ruiz, who leads the team with a .413 on-base percentage, batted sixth. He reached base three times but hit just once with a runner on base.
A potential eighth-inning rally was extinguished before it even began. Byrd chopped one to short that Reyes barehanded and fired to first. First-base umpire Jeff Kellogg signaled "safe." But Toronto manager John Gibbons successfully challenged the call. The review took 1 minute, 6 seconds, and fans groaned as the images were shown on the giant scoreboard.
Kendrick, at least, could say he kept his teammates close for seven innings. Reyes blasted his 19th career leadoff homer on Kendrick's third pitch. The Jays added another run in the first and scored in the second when Kendrick walked the first batter and permitted a double to Thole. The Phillies rode their starting pitchers (a 2.65 ERA) in the last 11 games. Kendrick, this time, created a swift hole. There was no comeback.
The Phillies waddled again to .500 through 30 games. They have not advanced two games above .500 since Oct. 1, 2012. That plateau will require more time and consistent baseball.
BY THE NUMBERS
J.A. Happ's ERA after five shutout innings against the Phillies.
Runners left on base by the Phils.
5 for 8
Phillies' record on video challenges this season.