Jays cough up win

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:30 PM ET

TORONTO - The Toronto Blue Jays got a swig of their own medicine on Thursday.

It did not go down sweetly.

For much of this season-opening homestand the Blue Jays proved a misery to the Minnesota Twins and Oakland A’s with aggressive base-running, superb pitching and opportunistic at-bats. They capitalized on every opposition mistake.

But the A’s used every one of those to beat Toronto 2-1 in this series finale.

“We’ll take four (wins) out of six (games) anytime,” summed up manager John Farrell. “We pitched well here. We’ve been in every game. We’ve held leads. Today was an exception.”

It was comedy and drama in disharmony for a disappointed matinee crowd of 19,528.

Trevor Cahill and Ricky Romero provided the drama.

“You saw two of the better pitchers in the American League go at it today,” said Farrell. “Ricky was outstanding.” But, he wasn’t a winner.

Cahill allowed three hits while striking out 11 through eight innings and for the first time this year, Toronto’s bullpen fizzled. So the Jays head on a West Coast trip feeling good about themselves. But invincible disappeared in the eighth inning when fate, which had been so kind, deserted the Jays.

Where’s the play?

Suffice to say The Force was not with Romero.

Clinging to a 1-0 lead, Andy LaRoche got a leadoff double. Then it got confusing. Romero didn’t get the lead runner on Cliff Pennington’s sacrifice bunt. Whether this was a bad or good thing depends on who was doing the talking.

“If that’s a force play he’s making the throw to third. The fact it’s a tag play he opted for the out at first. We don’t question the way we executed,” Farrell said.

Catcher J.P. Arencibia’s assessment would’ve done a diplomat proud: “I was yelling “three” but the pitcher has his instincts and wanted to get the sure out. We had an opportunity but that run didn’t really affect us.”

He was being polite. LaRoche would score the tying run.

Romero was blunt. The play proved his undoing.

“I didn’t make the play. I should have. I was confident I could get the next two guys out.”

But he never got the chance.

“It was unfortunate I couldn’t stay in the game but we can’t question what Farrell does there,” said Romero. “He’s got a plan and we’re going to stick to it.”

Ah, so, what’s plan B?

Farrell’s plan was to bring on reliever Jason Frasor “to finish the inning”. Frasor has had success getting Coco Crisp to chase balls down and out of the strike zone.

And, he did this time, too.

One problem. Arencibia couldn’t catch the strike-three pitch.

“He got the strikeout, unfortunately it was a split finger that got away,” Farrell said.

By the time Arencibia chased it down, LaRoche had scored to tie the game and Crisp stood at first.

Stolen moments

Romero stared blankly across the field as his chance at a win slipped away.

“Classic pitching duel. We felt all along it would come down to one push from either offence,” Farrell said. Toronto got a runner past first only twice all game.

The “push” came when Crisp stole second and third against Fraser.

“I got the (Crisp) strikeout and that would’ve made it two outs with a guy on third, but all right, now we’re tied and I got to hold that guy at first. I’m disappointed I didn’t.

“Hung a changeup,” he said after Conor Jackson’s game-altering RBI single. “Now we’re in trouble, trailing 2-1. Frustrating. Frustrating loss for me,” Frasor said. “After a tough loss it’s good to get the heck out of here.”

Yunel catches a break

Yunel Escobar says he’s good to go.

So, the Jays’ shortstop accompanied the club for its West Coast trip.

Escobar avoided becoming the first player to be placed on Major League Baseball’s new seven-day disabled list for concussions, even though a collision Wednesday knocked him starry-eyed.

“He has a very mild concussion,” said Toronto general manager, Alex Anthopoulos. “He’s not forced to go on the DL. He just has to pass the Major League Baseball tests.”

There had been speculation Escobar could become the first player to go on the new seven-day DL.

“This is the first time it has happened to anyone and they’re still trying to work out the kinks ... in the rules,” said Anthopoulos, after receiving clarification and word from league offices that Escobar won’t be forced onto the DL.

The Toronto shortstop slammed helmet to knee when sliding into LaRoche at third base on Wednesday night.

The collision left Escobar lying motionless for about a minute but he did stay in the game for another half inning before being pulled for what Farrell described as “persistent dizziness.”

He had a CAT scan and cervical X-ray Wednesday night.

“He smoked me,” LaRoche told reporters. “I was going to be real surprised if he didn’t (come out of the game).”

Replays showed the collision wrenching Escobar’s neck at an odd angle. A club trainer stayed with him overnight, wakening him every two hours to check his condition.

“I spoke with him this (Thursday) morning and he said he felt good,” Farrell said.

The club expects him to miss a couple of games in L.A. but “the good news is he’s going to be fine and be back early next week,” Anthopoulos said.


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