5:25 PM Eastern
The Blue Jays fell back to .500 and dropped to 1-4 on the current homestand with a second straight loss to the Rays and third straight loss overall, but there were more than a few highlights on the losing side.
The game really turned in the 7th inning, when Jesse Litsch came in to hold the Rays’ lead at 3-2, but Jesse had his first poor outing since being moved to the bullpen. Litsch walked two in a row around a groundout and a strikeout, and his first pitch after what appeared to have been a big K got taken way out of the yard in a hurry by B.J. Upton to blow the game open.
Litsch had allowed seven hits and three walks in his 15 1/3 innings of work since being moved to the bullpen, striking out 17 – that’s a WHIP of 0.652. Opponents were hitting .143/.189/.306 against him, so I guess he’s entitled to a bad outing – it was his third time working in four days, as well.
The Jays got back to within one as Brett Lawrie tripled in the 7th and scored on a J.P. Arencibia groundout, and Eric Thames (on a 9th pitch after falling behind 0-2; fantastic at-bat) and Edwin Encarnacion went deep in the 8th, but that was as close as they would come.
That RBI groundout by Arencibia was part of a big day for the rookie catcher – he also doubled in a run in the 4th to tie the game 2-2 and threw out three Rays baserunners who were trying to steal. Arencibia nailed Upton and Elliott Johnson at second and Sean Rodriguez trying to take third.
Rodriguez may well have been safe on that stolen base attempt, but he may well have been out the inning previous, when Bill Welke called him safe on a play on which an out call would have been the Blue Jays’ first triple play since 1979. Shawn Camp came on to work the 6th and hit Upton with a pitch, then gave up a single to Rodriguez to put runners on first and second with nobody out. Kelly Shoppach was sent up to bunt the runners over in what was a tie game, and he bunted it too hard back towards the mound. Camp pounced on the ball and threw to third, where Brett Lawrie had to reach up to snare the high throw. Lawrie held onto the bag, then threw to first to double up Shoppach as Rodriguez rounded second and raced to third. Kelly Johnson, who was covering at first, threw back to third and Rodriguez slid into the bag, safe by an eyelash according to Welke. Replays may have disagreed.
Every Blue Jays fan remembers the last time the team turned a triple play that wasn’t – thank you very much, Bob Davidson – when the call was missed on Kelly Gruber’s tag of Deion Sanders to complete the triplet-killing against the Braves in Game 3 of the 1992 World Series. But the last time the Jays actually turned a triple play that counted was all the way back on September 21, 1979 against the Yankees. Damaso Garcia, who would be traded to the Jays that winter, lined into a 4-3-6 triple play turned by Dave McKay, Craig Kusick and Alfredo Griffin. That was the third triple play turned by the Jays within 16 months, and they haven’t turned one since.
And speaking of triples in general – the one Lawrie hit in the 7th inning was his fourth so far in what’s been a 21-game big-league career. That would put him on pace to hit 31 three-baggers over a full season; the Blue Jays’ record is 17, set by Tony Fernandez in 1990.
It was a brief, but spectacular edition of The JaysTalk, and here it is, for your listening pleasure:
The series continues Sunday afternoon with Brandon Morrow trying to bounce back from a rough outing against the Royals and with the Blue Jays trying to beat David Price for the second time ever, and also for the second straight time. We’ll be on at 12:30 PM Eastern for a 1:07 first pitch – join us, won’t you?
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