Litsch's long drought over

Toronto Blue Jays' Jesse Litsch throws against the Oakland Athletics. (REUTERS/Mike Cassese)

Toronto Blue Jays' Jesse Litsch throws against the Oakland Athletics. (REUTERS/Mike Cassese)

BILL LANKHOF. QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:13 PM ET

Jesse Litsch has had to put up with a lot of pain the past two seasons.

But on Wednesday night, he put a hurting on the Oakland A’s.

Litsch put the promise and fun back into a career that had been limited to just nine starts the previous two seasons due to injuries, leading Toronto to a 5-3 win over the Oakland A’s.

Well, there is a big thanks to Travis Snider, whose three-run homer sparked the offence.

Mark Rzepczynski and Jon Rauch contributed three innings of perfect relief, but the night belonged mostly to Litsch.

Litsch scattered six hits, fanned seven and even struck out the side in the sixth as he chased his first win since July 20 of last season.

Toronto edged ahead 1-0 in the first. Litsch got through three unscathed but a leadoff walk and doubles by David DeJesus and Hideki Matsui in the fourth gave the A’s a 2-1 lead.

The 11,684 in attendance barely had time to register any disappointment when Snider rectified the situation with a three-run homer in the bottom of the inning.

This, of course, called for Litsch to put up a zero to protect the 4-2 lead. He got close, with two outs. But Coco Crisp slashed a triple over Rajai Davis’ head in centre and scored on Daric Barton’s single.

Mostly, though, Litsch was looking impressive after a 2010 season filled with frustration and pain. He never pitched again after Aug. 1, having surgery to fix a tear in his right hip. And 2009, with Tommy John surgery had been a write-off too.

When Andy LaRoche singled with one out in the seventh his night was done. But he left to a standing ovation, and he couldn’t hide the grin as he stood on the mound with catcher J.P. Arencibia.

When Rzepczynski closed the inning, Litsch was in the clubhouse with a 4-3 lead.

HUSTLE HURTS

Normally, a triple is a good thing. But it just left Yunel Escobar seeing stars — and the Rogers Centre roof wasn’t even open.

Escobar had to leave the game after he clubbed a line drive to right field that DeJesus lost in the seats or lights. It sailed past to the wall and Escobar pedalled all the way to third, but he knocked his head up against LaRoche’s knee on the slide.

Escobar had to leave the game with dizziness and John McDonald took his place at shortstop when the Jays took the field.

NICE TO SHARE

The Montreal Blue Jays?

It could happen.

At least for a day, or so. “We are trying to be Canada’s team,” Jays’ general manager Alex Anthopoulos said Wednesday. Jays’ president Paul Beeston broached the idea this week of bringing the club to Montreal’s Olympic Stadium for a visit.

“Montreal was a good baseball city and it would be terrific if we could pull it off,” Beeston said Wednesday during the Jays-Oakland game.

Anthopoulos said the game’s return to his hometown is an exciting prospect.

“I don’t know what the logistics of something like that might be but I grew up there and know there are a lot of people who love baseball there,” said Anthopoulos. “There’s a passionate fan base in that city. Toronto is my home now but (Montreal) is where I got into baseball and you never forget where you come from.”

Montreal has been without a major league club since the Expos moved to Washington in 2004. It is also when Anthopoulos left, but his family remains in Quebec and he sees the province as fertile territory to grow the Blue Jays’ brand. “We’re making a concious decision to try to be Canada’s team. Just with the winter tour that we did we saw there’s a strong interest in this game across the country.”

He points to Winnipeg which has an outstanding independent league franchise that draws large crowds.

And the Toronto-Montreal rivalry so evident in hockey doesn’t appear to be an issue with baseball. Montreal radio station CKAC Sports broadcast eight weekend games last year and will air 15 this year. The games are broadcast in English by The Team 990. “With the games they did in French last year, I was told they drew 60% of the Montreal Canadiens’ audience although I’m not sure what the exact number is.”

Beeston said there is no time frame or plans to tour Quebec at the moment.

“A lot of people,” said Anthopoulos, “live in places they can’t just jump in the car and drive down to the games ... it’s all the same country. We’re all fans. I know there’s interest.”

BY THE SWORD

The running game is exciting. It has been good to the Jays so far this season.

But it can also be a downer when things don’t work. So, Davis got caught tryng to steal second after his game-opening single. That may have cost them a run when Escobar and Adam Lind followed with hits ... Arencibia was thrown out trying to stretch out a double in the second but, with two out, that wasn’t as costly.

bill.lankhof@sunmedia.ca


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