Chacin all the rage

MIKE RUTSEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:02 AM ET

NEW YORK -- It took 41 career starts before Gustavo Chacin finally lost his flap.

The book on Chacin, through his rookie season last year and his first four starts this campaign, was that he was one cool customer, that he never lost his composure when on the mound.

That all changed yesterday afternoon, thanks to home plate umpire Adam Dowdy's strike zone that not only got under the skin of the unflappable Blue Jays left-hander, but led to the eviction of both managers -- Toronto's John Gibbons and Joe Torre of the New York Yankees.

Chacin was nursing a 1-0 lead until Andy Phillips hit a one-out homer in the fifth. A double and two walks later, Alex Rodriguez came to the plate with two out.

On a 2-2 pitch, Chacin appeared to split the plate. Rodriguez didn't swing and the lefty did a mini fist-pump as he took a few steps toward the dugout.

Dowdy called it a ball.

Chacin then came back with another quality pitch, again hitting catcher Gregg Zaun's glove held at knee level on the corner, but Dowdy called it Ball 4.

As the Yankees' go-ahead run came trotting in to score, Chacin was skipping off the mound and toward third screaming in a rage. Gibbons came charging out of the dugout and was immediately tossed for arguing balls and strikes.

The Yankees would go on beat the Jays 4-1, leaving Toronto with a record of 12-11 for April.

In the Jays clubhouse, all the talk was about the brutal call.

"I thought it was one of the best ones he threw all day, especially considering the situation," catcher Gregg Zaun said of the 2-2 pitch. "I didn't have any question in my mind whether it was a strike or not. Three-two was borderline."

Was the first one an A-Rod, Yankee Stadium call?

"It's uncanny, isn't it," Zaun said. "It does seem to be, especially in this ball park. Most of the close calls go to the home side. Based on his (Rodriguez) reaction to that pitch, and also I'm looking around on the field at the base runners, I think everybody in the ball park thought it was Strike 3 except the umpire."

Even from centre field, Vernon Wells thought the 2-2 pitch was a strike.

"Yeah, it looked like it was a good pitch," Wells said. "He hit his spot and obviously you think the catcher is going to set up over the plate and he hit his spot and unfortunately the umpire saw it differently."

It wouldn't have come down to a bad call if the Jays had taken advantage of their early chances. But they scored just one and stranded eight in the opening five innings.

"We had opportunities. You can point your finger all you want but we didn't play well enough to win," Wells said.

Chacin, who ended the month 4-1, is 8-2 in his career in April.

"I think he's been our MVP so far," Wells said of the left-hander. "Every time he goes on the mound he's given us a chance to win. He goes out and battles and it's fun to play behind him."


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