12:45 AM Eastern
How amazing is it that the Blue Jays can come back from 3-0 down in the bottom of the ninth to force extra innings, finish up a homestand 5-2 and still leave everyone with such a horrifying taste in their mouths?
Jesse Litsch had a great start, retiring the first 14 he faced on the way to seven innings of five-hit, three-run ball – his third straight start without issuing a walk. In the bottom of the 9th, the Jays touched up Troy Percival, a guy who had given up just three BASERUNNERS in 11 innings so far this season. Vernon Wells hit a mammoth two-run home run, Lyle Overbay hit his second double of the night and Aaron Hill scored Overbay’s pinch-runner with a solid single. The ballpark had woken up from a 2 1/2 hour slumber, and things looked they were going the Jays’ way. A 6-1 homestand, a series win against the Rays were all in the offing, especially when Alex Rios led off the 10th with a triple.
Rios flew around the bases on that hit, by the way. When he gets the motor going, he can pick ‘em up and put ‘em down with the best of them. It was beautiful to watch – but I figured that he’d probably wind up going another 90 feet at some point. Shannon Stewart struck out looking, the Greatest Blue Jay Ever was intentionally walked, Matt Stairs struck out swinging, Vernon Wells got the old unintentional intentional walk, and then Rod Barajas (in to play first because Overbay had been run for) struck out. Ugly with a capital ugh.
It was reminiscent of the 14-inning game with the Rangers back on April 16th, when the Jays rallied with three in the bottom of the 8th to tie it and Joe Inglett couldn’t get the suicide squeeze down in the bottom of the 10th that would have won it.
This time, there was no A.J. Burnett coming out of the ‘pen, it was Shawn Camp, who could have picked a much better time for his first normal human outing of the season. Camp had been fantasmic since being called up from Syracuse, allowing two hits and no walks while striking out 7 in 5 2/3 innings, but tonight the grounders found holes, the Jays couldn’t execute a rundown and Alex Rios airmailed a throw home on a fly ball. All before the two-out Slam by Dioner Navarro on a 3-2 pitch made it academic. Not that it probably wasn’t already. You can’t hang this one on Camp, not at all. At some point the overwhelming craptacularity of the hitters has to turn around. Honest, it will. It’s just getting harder and harder to believe as each day goes by.
There will be a new face on the squad tomorrow night in Cleveland. David Eckstein and John McDonald are both on the DL, but only one has been replaced. There will be a ton of stories Friday morning about who might be coming up or coming over, but my (figurative) money is on Brad Wilkerson.
Released by the Mariners last week after starting the season .232/.348/.304, Wilkerson has long been a guy that J.P. Ricciardi has liked. In fact, Ricciardi almost traded Rios for him once upon a time. He’s a left-handed bat, but when he’s doing well, he’s actually a better hitter against left-handed pitching. Problem is that he hasn’t done really well since ripping up his shoulder back when he was with the Expos in 2004. Of course, had he been doing really well since, he wouldn’t be available for free.
There has been discussion in the comments section about who this new bat would be, and I said that I’d prefer to take a shot with a guy like Jason Botts over Wilkerson, because Wilkerson hasn’t been good for so long, but Botts cleared waivers today, so the Jays obviously didn’t think the same thing. My guess is that Wilkerson is in there playing left tomorrow night in Cleveland, with Shannon Stewart DHing.
Yes, Stewart looked terrible tonight, but you can’t pin this thing on him. The Jays were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position, and outside the 9th inning, were terrible. Matt Stairs said after the game that in that 10th inning situation with Rios at third and one out, he himself “sucked a**”, but I don’t think Stairs alone should bear the sins of the multitude. They all did, and they all have most of the season. It’s embarrassing already.
Still, a 5-2 homestand off a 2-7 road trip is pretty good stuff. But what a disgusting way to close it out.
Comments are encouraged, and since the Jays are hitting the road I’ll have a little more time in my day, so I’ll be able to get to them earlier on (hopefully) – let’s keep the JaysTalk going 24/7!