Blue Jays blow 8-0 lead

Mike Rutsey, Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:48 PM ET

The stench from the various garbage sites around the city didn’t have as foul a smell as the one that was trapped inside Rogers Centre Saturday afternoon.

The Blue Jays have lost 51 games this season, none of them in more brutal fashion than this one.

It was a ghastly affair, one that could rattle Roy Halladay down to his soul and have him packing for brighter spots elsewhere -— quickly.

Leading 8-0 after the fourth inning and 9-1 after the sixth, the Jays managed to blow it up real good over the final three innings before suffering a soul-crushing 10-9 loss in the 12th.

A four-run Tampa seventh seemed of no threat but a two-run eighth cut the Jays’ advantage to two runs and turned into a sweaty-palm ninth for what remained of the crowd of 26,527.

On came closer Scott Downs to shut the door but when his second pitch to Carlos Pena cleared the fence, it was panic time.

One out later, Willy Aybar leaned into a Downs offering and lined it over the wall in centre. Vernon Wells bent over in anguish at the base of the wall in frustration.

The Rays, who are 7-1 against the Jays this season, finally won it in the 12t h on a two-out RBI double by Jason Bartlett off Shawn Camp.

“There’s not many words for that but for me it’s embarrassing,” said Downs, who has a loss and a blown save in his past two outings against the Rays.

“Bottom line, it’s not executing. We had a lead and you have a chance to come in and close out a game and don’t do it the last couple of times and yesterday it’s just embarrassing.

“Mistakes are supposed to be hit and they’re hitting them.”

It was Downs’ 32nd appearance of the season and was the first time he had allowed two home runs. In fact, they were just the second and third he has given up this season.

The timing couldn’t have been worse.

“It happens, when things are going bad, things are going bad,” Downs said. “Like I said, it’s unacceptable. It’s embarrassing. It’s the only thing that I can say.”

It was Halladay Hangover day, the big party for Doc on Friday a thing of the past and the Jays attempting to get a grip on the remainder of their season.

They are not faring well on that front. With the loss, the Jays are 3-5 on this home stretch and have lost 17 of their past 23 games to fall four games under .500 at 47-51.

Manager Cito Gaston took the loss in stride.

“It’s a tough word to come up with that you can write,” he said when asked for a word that best described what happened. “It was awful.

“The bullpen just couldn’t hold it today. We finally scored some runs but we couldn’t hold them. Right now we’re not putting the two together (pitching and hitting).”

The challenge for Gaston is to find a way to keep his team focused over the remainder of the season.

“We just have to go out and win a few games and let it happen,” he said. “Today could have been a turning point for us (with all the offence led by four home runs).

“I think today they showed they could score some runs. What’s going to be hard is when you score that many runs and you lose a ball game is to get up the next day and do it again. That’s going to be a telling point tomorrow.”

mike.rutsey@sunmedia.ca


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