TORONTO - When the night began, David Cooper wasn’t even in the starting lineup. When it ended, he was a hero.
It was that kind of upside-down, topsy-turvy night as the Blue Jays outlasted the Red Sox for a 7-6, 10-inning win.
“Coop had a flair for the dramatic tonight,” said manager John Farrell, who’s team surrendered the lead four times before finding the winning combination in Rajai Davis and Cooper.
Davis singled against Mark Albers with one out in the ninth, then stole second despite a pitchout. Seconds later he swiped third. “I thought we had a better chance of scoring with me on third and (Albers) was slow to the plate so I knew I had an opportunity to take it,” said Davis.
That left Cooper with one thought: “Once he got those two bags, I was just: ‘Get one to the outfield and win the game,’ ” Cooper said of his flyout to centre.
Earlier, Cooper had crushed his first career homer to hand closer Frank Francisco a 6-5 lead going into the ninth. “It was a beautiful swing,” said Farrell. There hadn’t been a lot of those for the rookie coming into the game on a 3 for 27 run. But some extra cage time with hitting coach Dwayne Murphy prior to the game got him moving his hands quicker and it was evident catching up to Daniel Bard’s heater.
This had been a battle of attrition. The team’s combined for six home runs, 25 hits, with equal helpings of heroics and blunders. They used 11 pitchers, few of whom survived unscathed.
Toronto spit up leads of 3-0, 4-3, 5-4 and 6-5. Even the Jays normally splendid bullpen got dinged — Boston pulling even 5-5 on Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s RBI single in the eighth against Marc Rzepczynski.
Adrian Gonzalez leadoff homer in the ninth, his second of the game, saddled Francisco with his first blown save.
J.P. Arencibia’s leadoff homer in the sixth had put Toronto up 5-4. A walk and hit batter later, Bosox starter Jon Lester was gone. Boston’s best battered like an old rag doll on a night nothing seemed as it appeared and no lead was secure.
“We came off a tough three (losses) and we responded in a good fashion against a very good pitcher,” said Farrell. “We did a good job of staying patient.”
This was ragged from the start. The Red Sox had a runner thrown out at the plate. They’d watched Adrian Gonzalez do his Bill Buckner imitation, Lester walked home a run, and they had Jacoby Ellsbury picked off second. Pretty it wasn’t. Intriguing, maybe, in that pulling the wings off a fly kind of way.
Toronto left the bases loaded twice; another inning they scored three runs on one hit — a single. Rzepczynski picked off Dustin Pedroia, and he ended up at second when Cooper — in the game when Yunel Escobar left after being hit by a pitch — dropped the throw. Before his heroics, Davis got hung up on a missed suicide squeeze when Escobar laid off the pitch. “A miscommunication,” explained Farrell.
Escobar who, after being hit by that pitch, is day to day with a contusion. Of course, if he doesn’t get hurt, Cooper doesn’t hit his homer — maybe Davis never gets his chance to run wild.
“He’s a guy with game-changing speed,” said Farrell. “Even when they pitch out he has the ability to beat the baseball. He created that run, clearly, by himself.”
Which was a nice way to end a night when outs turned into hits; hits turned into outs and somewhere outside Rogers Centre there should’ve been a full moon hanging.
Did he, or didn’t he?
Brandon Morrow that is, mutter a disparaging word at his manager John Farrell after being pulled in the fourth inning Monday?
Only Morrow and Farrell know for sure. And the only four-letter word they’re using is: Deny. Tuesday both said anyone who believed Morrow was angry with Farrell misread the situation.
“I was mad,” agreed Morrow, “frustrated. But I wasn’t mad at John. I didn’t say anything to him.”
The incident came in a frustrating loss that saw Morrow throw 31 pitches in the fourth inning. There was a strikeout/wild pitch, a fly ball that wasn’t caught, two runs had come in and after Morrow walked Alex Avila to load the bases, Farrell had seen enough.
Even with the score a manageable 2-2, Farrell said there were too many alarm bells: Morrow’s velocity was down, he was lowering his arm delivering the ball, and coming off a forearm injury this spring, he was closing in on a 40-pitch inning.
“Given the fact it was his fourth start after injuring his forearm in spring training ... (keeping him in) one game (compared to) the potential of an injury and losing him for a time wasn’t a good risk on my part. The consideration was Brandon Morrow first and foremost at that point,” said Farrell.
When he left, looked back towards the mound, mouthing something. Morrow said Tuesday he was checking his pitch count, which is registered on the right field scoreboard, and reacting to the game situation.
Farrell backed that version, suggesting the media was telling fairy tales. “I think you’re creating something there. He turned around to look at his pitch count and had a reaction to the pitch count and the inning that unfolded. I think you’re trying to create something else that’s not there.”
What also wasn’t there was Morrow’s pitch count.
“They’d already taken it down,” Morrow told reporters. So, how could he react to something that wasn’t there?
Perhaps, as they said, Morrow was upset with the pitch count and the unfolding game. Maybe he was upset with Farrell. Perhaps, it really doesn’t matter because while fans and media might care about who said what to whom, it didn’t seem to much matter to Farrell, or Morrow.