May 24, 2008
Jays score like it's '93Offence enjoys a Royal renaissance on aptly named Flashback Friday
By MIKE RUTSEY, SUN MEDIA
Flashback Friday turned out to be a return to the good old days.
Back in the late 1980s and early '90s, when the Jays were winning division championships and World Series with regularity, the sight of runners circling the bases and crossing the plate was a regular occurrence.
But not this year.
At the bottom in virtually every offensive category imaginable, the Jays have turned stone cold when they find themselves at the plate with a runner in scoring position.
Last night, though, they broke the ice.
Led by shortstop Marco Scutaro, who drove in four runs on a pair of singles, the Jays erupted for a 7-1 victory over the shell-shocked Royals who just arrived following a four-game beating in Boston.
For the first time since they hammered the Orioles 11-3 way back on April 15, the Jays were swinging the bats with confidence and cashing in runners galore.
The seven runs marked the first time they have scored more than six runs since that thrashing of Baltimore, a stretch of 36 games. It also was just the fourth time all year they've won by a margin of more than three runs.
"I haven't given it that much thought but it's a long time," manager John Gibbons said of finally getting a breather. "Hopefully it's the start of something."
Aaron Hill seconded his manager's comments.
"It's just nice to get the win," Hill said. "Scutaro had some big knocks and Doc (Roy Halladay) had the best stuff he has had all year.
"It's nice to get hits in key situations, that's what we've been lacking."
It made for an easy victory for Halladay, who allowed one run on four hits while evening his record at 5-5. He also went the route for the fifth time this season.
"It's nice to win the one-run games but to be able to come out and score seven against a tough pitcher (Zach Greinke) has got to be a great boost for those guys offensively," Halladay said. "We swung the bats great and did it against a pitcher with a good track record at this part of the year so it's got to be a good confidence boost for them."
The victory was the 116th of Halladay's career, placing him in a tie with lefty Jimmy Key for third place on the Jays career wins list. Next up for Halladay is Jim Clancy (128 wins). Dave Stieb, with 175 wins, tops the list.
Staked to a 6-1 lead after the third, Halladay breezed like Big Brown in the Preakness.
"You don't want to ease up, you want to keep that mentality that it is a one-run game," Halladay said of his mindset after the third inning. "You get up six or seven and it's a different feeling. It doesn't matter as much if you do make a bad pitch and that's always a nice feeling as a pitcher
Five days ago, Halladay made a rare relief appearance in Philadelphia when he threw 21/3 shutout innings. In his two previous starts, against Cleveland and Minnesota, he didn't make it into the seventh inning.
With the win the Jays once again reached the .500 mark, this time at 25-25.
After spotting the Royals a run in the first, the Jays came back with two in the second on a two-run single by Scutaro. They put it away in the third with a four-run rally, a two-run single by Scutaro highlighting the inning.
It was the fourth time in his career that Scutaro has driven in four runs in a game.
LINES THEM UP
Matt Stairs was still feeling the lingering effects of a stiff neck and was on the bench last night. Taking over at his DH spot was Kevin Mench. Manager John Gibbons, though, didn't forget about his secret weapon -- Joe Inglett, and had him out in right field. Mench batted sixth with Inglett ninth. Leading off for the fifth time this season was left fielder Shannon Stewart. When asked about his lineup, Gibbons replied: "Just a whim."
RHP Jeremy Accardo, who is on the DL with a strained right forearm, is back throwing with class-A Dunedin.
"He tossed a simulated game," Gibbons reported.
Shortstop David Eckstein, who is out with a strained right hip flexor, was the DH for Dunedin on Thursday and went 0-for-2.
If all goes well, Eckstein could be back on Monday.
Gibbons added that both shortstop John McDonald, who is out with a sprained right ankle, and CF Vernon Wells, who has a fractured left wrist, will both head to Florida Monday when the Jays travel to the west coast following their afternoon game against the Royals.
Yesterday morning, Gibbons had the pleasure of talking with the students at Sir Sandford Fleming Academy. "It made my day," Gibbons said.
ON THE FARM
DH Travis Snider, the Jays' No. 1 pick in the 2006 June player draft, had a big game with the Double-A New Hampshire Fishercats Thursday, going 3-for-4 with two home runs and three RBIs. His other hit was a double. In 28 games with the Fishercats, Snider is hitting just .228 but he leads the team with seven homers and is second with 22 RBIs.