Bullpen goes splatA's come back in the 9th
By MIKE RUTSEY, TORONTO SUN
Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Jason Frasor reacts after walking Oakland Athletics Erubiel Durazo to load the bases during ninth inning AL action in Toronto Saturday Sept. 4, 2004. The Athletics bet the Blue Jays 9-5 after scoring five runs in the ninth. (CP PHOTO/Aaron Harris)
To re-work a Jerry Seinfeld line -- The Blue Jays know how to TAKE a lead, they just don't know how to HOLD one. The Jays have played some tough teams this home stand but they have to wonder "what they hey'' as in three previous games they've blown four-run leads and yesterday they had the A's by 3-0 and 5-2 counts.
But with the Jays these days it's about never having enough as they allowed five runs in the ninth to lose by a 9-5 margin.
A 5-2 lead and a pretty good performance from Miguel Batista started to go down the drain in the eighth when Vinnie Chulk allowed a pair of runs to make it a one-run game.
The ninth was simply a nightmare for Jason Frasor and company as the tying run came across on a wild pitch, the result of a mixup between catcher Kevin Cash and Frasor, while what should have been the final out turned into a three-run double when left fielder Reed Johnson started in on a liner off the bat of Eric Byrnes that sailed over his head.
The combination of Chulk and Frasor had everybody singing and smiling in Jayland earlier in the season but the rookie right-handers are both struggling down the stretch.
The two runs Chulk gave up in the eighth -- it started with a leadoff walk -- means he has given up 15 earned runs over his past 11 outings (8 1/3 innings) for a 16.20 ERA.
The blown save for Frasor was just his second of the season but he has yielded 10 earned runs in four of his past six appearances.
Interim manager John Gibbons believes both pitchers will be better for the experience, of having to battle through adversity. But that's no solace for either Chulk or Frasor.
"You've got to get ahead," Frasor said. "That's what it's all about, making quality pitches and I didn't do it."
Is he trying too hard?
"I don't think so," he replied. "You see the glove, you try to hit it and I certainly didn't do that. There's not a lot of room for error in the ninth. They put up a big number and I couldn't stop it."
As much as he's bleeding runs, Frasor seems to be bleeding confidence as he's having trouble throwing strikes or making quality pitches of any description. But he's not buying into that.
"No, no, I feel great out there," he said. "I'm just not making the pitches, man."
Young pitchers often start to nibble after they get roughed up, which compounds the situation.
"You can say that but I wouldn't say that," Chulk said when offered the theory. "I need to attack the hitters. My last couple of outings before this one, the results weren't good but I felt I went after the hitters.
"This outing, I just didn't go after them the way I wanted to. It's what you get paid for, to go after hitters, bottom line."
Bottom line is the Jays are blowing leads and it isn't a pretty sight.