The Blue Jays almost dug themselves out of a three-run hole in Anaheim Sunday, but just couldn’t push that final run across, falling to the Angels but winding up with a split of a four-game series on the road against what will wind up being one of the better teams in baseball.
As I said on The Twitter right after the game (you can follow me @wilnerness590, by the way), you can’t be upset with splitting a four-game series on the road, but you also can’t be happy about it after winning the first two games of the series.
Drew Hutchison put together a lovely fifth starter’s start, but he goes into the record books as the first pitcher ever to cough up a home run to the Angels incarnation of Albert Pujols. Albert ended his longest career homer drought – and the longest EVER to start a season by a player with at least 400 career big flies – by taking Hutchison deep to left in the fifth inning, a two-run shot that put the Halos up 4-1 at the time. It was his 111th at-bat of the season. Fans who had been booing him all weekend suddenly wanted a curtain call, but they didn’t get one.
The Blue Jays scratched their way back with a run each in the 6th (Jose Bautista leadoff double, Edwin Encarnacion sac fly) and the 7th (J.P. Arencibia single, Pujols throwing error, Kelly Johnson RBI single), and had the tying run on base in each of the 7th, 8th and 9th innings, but couldn’t cash.
In both the 8th and 9th, the tying run was erased on the bases, with the 8th inning incident standing out the most.
Adam Lind walked to lead off that frame, and Rajai Davis came out to pinch-run. Davis took off for second, but Edwin Encarnacion couldn’t stop his half-swing and fouled the pitch off, then fouled off another before the Angels pitched out with Davis staying put. Davis then took off again, but Edwin popped the ball up to the pitchers’ mound. Davis never could figure out where the ball was, and slid into second thinking that either there had been a throw or a ground ball somewhere. The rule is, of course, that if you can’t pick up the ball, you pick up your coaches, and Davis did neither one of those things.
There were shenanginans, to be sure, as Angels’ shortstop Erick Aybar did his best Sean Avery impression – dancing around in front of Davis, standing between him and first base, but Davis never made a single move to go back to first anyway.
The runner eliminated in the 9th was much more normal. Arencibia smacked a one-out single up the middle that was hit so hard that it broke Scott Downs. The former Blue Jay, and now Angels’ closer, strained something in his leg ducking out of the way of the Arencibia missile and had to leave the game. Jeff Mathis came in to run for Arencibia, who wound up 3-for-4 on the day with a duck snort, a pop-up lost in the sun and that rocket, as LaTroy Hawkins came in to finish it off for L.A. of A.
Omar Vizquel, making his first start at shortstop this season (and in so doing becoming the oldest person ever in the history of anything to play shortstop in a big-league game), lined a shot back up the middle with Mathis running, but it was a little lower than Arencibia’s, so instead of nearly taking Hawkins’ head off, Hawkins was able to stick his glove out and snare it. At that point, Mathis was meatcake and the game was over.
Here’s this evening’s edition of The BlueJaysTalk, for your listening pleasure:
It was a valiant effort, as has the entire season been to this point, but the falling shortness means that the Blue Jays fall to 16-13 on the season, and continue their road trip in Oakland with a quick little two-game series against an A’s team coming home off a 5-4 road trip they finished with series wins in Boston and Tampa Bay. I’m thrilled to report that I’ll be joining the Blue Jays for the remainder of this trip (two in Oakland, four in Minnesota) to do the radio broadcast with Jerry Howarth as Alan Ashby moves over to the bright lights of the television (Pat Tabler has the week off). Tuesday night’s game will be the first of 27 games (not in a row) I’ll be filling in for Alan on the broadcast, so please make sure to tune in – I want your feedback!
The series in Oakland opens with Ricky Romero taking on hotshot Oakland rookie Jarrod Parker, a former Arizona first-rounder who went to the A’s in the Trevor Cahill deal this past winter. We’ll have the full pre-game show for you beginning at 9:30PM Eastern Tuesday night – join us, won’t you?
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