Burnett struggles at Rogers Centre

Burnett struggles at Rogers Centre

TORONTO -- It was no secret A.J. Burnett had a rough time on the mound in Saturday's game against the Orioles. Consequently, the Rogers Centre crowd let the Jays starter know how it felt, as Burnett was peppered with boos for the better part of his outing.

When Burnett was pulled from the game during the fifth inning, the chorus of boos only intensified. As he was walking from the mound to the dugout, the Toronto right-hander responded to the boos by tipping his cap to the fans and waving it back and forth in a gesture usually reserved for pitchers who receive applause from the crowd.

Following the Blue Jays' 9-5 loss to the Orioles, Burnett was apologetic about his gesture.

"At the time, I was [frustrated], but once I sat back and thought about what happened, it was something that I never should have done," Burnett said. "With [the way I pitched] out there today, they have the right to boo. So it was a mistake on my part.

"I battled myself all day, and that was just the wrong way to take it."

When looking at Burnett's statistics at Rogers Centre, it possibly could explain the root of the right-hander's frustration. In six games this year -- including five starts -- at the home of the Blue Jays (32-32), Burnett has an ERA of 9.00, which spans a total of 27 innings. During those 27 frames, he's allowed 42 hits.

That's a stark contrast to his numbers on the road. Over eight starts away from Toronto, Burnett holds a 2.98 ERA and has given up 42 hits over 54 1/3 innings.

When asked about his troubles at Rogers Centre, Burnett (5-6) refused to speculate about why he has not pitched well at home.

"You have got to pitch anywhere, home or the road," he said. "I felt good warming up [on Saturday], but I knew from the first batter that the location wasn't there ... and it carried on and on. Instead of going pitch by pitch, like I had in the past, I battled myself and took myself out of the game."

For Burnett, Saturday's performance against Baltimore (31-30) represented his toughest start of the season. He allowed a season-high eight runs on 10 hits over his 4 1/3 innings. He also walked four and struck out five.

The Orioles did not waste time, taking advantage of Burnett's lack of execution in the first inning. Leading off, O's second baseman Brian Roberts doubled to center field and eventually came around to score on a Nick Markakis single up the middle.

Baltimore kept the pressure on the Jays right-hander in the third inning, when Jay Payton lined an RBI single to right field that cashed in two runs and gave the Orioles a 3-1 lead.

In the fifth inning, though, the Baltimore offense was able to touch Burnett for five runs and chase him from the game. The Orioles collected five hits and a walk in the fifth, the most important of which was a bases-loaded double from Payton that cleared the bases, gave the left fielder five RBIs and also gave the O's a 6-1 lead.

"I wasn't mentally prepared today, and I didn't execute any pitches," Burnett said. "That was the bottom line. Once I did get ahead, I didn't execute the curveball to get people out. You leave balls over the plate, you leave them up and that's what happens. They hit them hard and they hit it in gaps."

Meanwhile, save for an RBI single from Alex Rios in the first inning, the Toronto offense could not do much against Baltimore starter Jeremy Guthrie (3-6). The right-hander stifled the Jays over his seven innings, allowing one run on six hits.

However, if there was one positive for Blue Jays manager John Gibbons in the loss, it was that his team managed to put up a fight in the ninth inning, scoring four runs to cut the lead to 9-5.

"We don't quit," Gibbons said. "We never have, and these guys never will. And it doesn't always look pretty. Everybody's frustrated -- the players, the fans, everybody."

After going 20-10 in May, Toronto is 1-5 in June, including four straight losses.

"We're in a little rut right now," said Gibbons. "We played so good in May, but we're in a rut right now. Who knows, maybe we were due for that. But you play 162 games and then you see where you're at."

The loss also managed to spoil the return of Vernon Wells to the Toronto lineup. After breaking his left wrist on a diving catch in Cleveland less than a month ago, Wells managed to rejoin the Blue Jays much quicker than expected. He went 2-for-3 at the plate with a double and an RBI.

"It's kind of strange coming into a big league park after being out for a while and playing in a Minor League stadium," Wells said. "It was great to be back, but obviously it didn't turn out the way we wanted it to."

David Singh is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.