A winnable game against a beatable opponent didn't quite work out for the Blue Jays last night.
Despite a spirited comeback that saw the Jays erase an early four-run deficit and take an 8-7 lead after eight innings, they couldn't finish the job, eventually losing 9-8 to the Detroit Tigers in 12 innings.
Facing Scott Schoeneweis, the fifth Blue Jays pitcher of the night, the Tigers loaded the bases with one out in the 12th.
Schoeneweis got Brandon Inge on a check-swing third strike but then facing back-up catcher Vance Wilson, saw a high hopper go in and out of the glove of airborne third baseman Aaron Hill for the eventual game-winning single.
Wilson, playing in place of Ivan Rodriguez who began serving his four-game suspension stemming from an incident in a July 30th game with Oakland, came into the game hitting just .153 and was 0-for-4 with a hit-by-pitch prior to the game-winning single.
It was definitely a game of missed opportunities for the Jays, who are now eight back of the Boston Red Sox and 4 1/2 behind the New York Yankees, both winners last night.
The Jays had a season-high 20 hits and had the bases loaded with one out in the ninth but couldn't push across the winning run.
"We battled all night," a clearly disappointed Gregg Zaun said. "That should have been a slam dunk."
Third baseman Eric Hinske thought he had put the Jays up for good with a grand slam in the seventh inning only to see Tigers centre fielder Nook Logan run the ball down at the wall in the deepest part of centre field for the final out of the inning.
"I thought it was gone," Hinske said. "I don't know if he's the fastest guy in the league but him and that Joey Gathright in Tampa Bay have to be 1-2."
Hinske had another shot in the 11th to win it with runners on first and second and none out but he hit into a double play.
Asked after the game if he considered having Hinske bunt the two runners over, Jays manager John Gibbons explained.
"No. No way," Gibbons said. "He probably hasn't bunted in 10 years. Certain guys are able to do that but no, that was a slugfest and it went back and forth. We had chances. They had chances and they won."
Gibbons summed up the night succinctly.
"Tough night," he said. "That's all, just a tough night."
Starter Dave Bush's night certainly fit that description.
Bush, who had won two of his three starts since returning from a seven-week stint in the minors, pitched two outs into the fifth inning, giving up 10 hits and seven of the nine Detroit runs.
BULLPEN DOES ITS PART
The Jays' stingy bullpen held the Tigers in check from that point until the ninth when Miguel Batista coughed up his fourth blown save of the year on a pair of singles and a sacrifice fly.
Second baseman Orlando Hudson put the Jays in a position to win the game in the eighth with a two-run homer off Roman Colon, giving his team a short-lived 8-7 lead.
Also lost in the result was a career high five-hit night for right fielder Alex Rios, including his sixth homer of the year.
Rios, in fact, reached base safely in all six plate appearances including a seventh inning intentional walk.