Reyes is Mr. Hard Luck Jay

Blue Jays starter Jo-Jo Reyes watches an Andruw Jones home run at Yankee Stadium in New York City,...

Blue Jays starter Jo-Jo Reyes watches an Andruw Jones home run at Yankee Stadium in New York City, New York, May 25, 2011. (RAY STUBBLEBINE/Reuters)

KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:06 PM ET

NEW YORK - It’s not one of those records that comes and goes in a flash.

This isn’t just a moment in time. No, this is the kind of dreadful string of bad luck (and the occasional bad pitch) that creeps up on a guy. If he lets it, it can grind away at his confidence like some chronic ailment.

On June 13, 2008, pitching for the Atlanta Braves, Jo-Jo Reyes stifled the Los Angeles Angels on two runs over eight strong innings. He gave up five hits and walked two. Jeff Bennett pitched the ninth for the save as the Braves beat the Angels 5-3 and Reyes picked up his third win of the season.

That was almost three years and 29 starts ago and Reyes is still looking for his next victory as a major league pitcher. Wednesday he lasted just three innings as the Yankees ripped the Blue Jays 7-3 and now Reyes has joined former Oakland Athletic Matt Keough and former Boston Brave Cliff Curtis in the record books for the longest winless streak ever by a starting pitcher.

Keough went 28 starts between wins as a member of the A’s in 1978-79, matching the mark set by Curtis in 1910-11. Now Reyes has tied them. Over the length of that streak, Reyes is 0-13 with 15 no-decisions. As a Blue Jay this year, he has made 10 starts, with an 0-4 record and six no-decisions.

Poor pitching obviously plays a part in such a streak and that was the case Wednesday. But there is also a huge random element at work here. Throughout that streak, there have been plenty of games where Reyes has pitched well enough to win but factors out of his control have thwarted him.

Three times this year he has worked at least six innings and allowed one run or fewer and still the “W” eluded him.

“As much as we preach to our pitchers to focus on the process and not on the result, he’s epitomizing that,” says manager John Farrell. “He’s done his job on more than one occasion and then something that happens in the game after he leaves has not worked in his favour. If you attach yourself to the end result, you’re going to ride the elevator up and down from a mental standpoint.

“To his credit he’s handled it like a pro. It hasn’t altered his work ethic, his approach or his attitude. He’s put us in position to win ball games but, as it has turned out, he wasn’t the one credited with a win.”

Wednesday wasn’t such a day.

“He just wasn’t as sharp as he’s been,” said Farrell.

After the Jays squandered a leadoff triple by Yunel Escobar in the top of the first, the Yanks wasted no time in ruining Reyes’ day. Curtis Granderson doubled in a run in the first and Andruw Jones belted his first of two homers in the second. When Mark Teixeira launched a two-run homer in the third, the rout was officially on.

Ironically, in that long ago last win by Reyes, Teixeira contributed three hits as the Braves first baseman and Escobar chimed in with a pair as Atlanta’s shortstop.

“You can’t walk guys and you can’t get behind in the count and get into a hitter’s count,” said Reyes. “Today that’s what I did and mistakes happened.

“I wasn’t able to get to the offspeed pitches as much as I wanted to because the fastball wasn’t as consistent as it has been.”

As far as the streak goes, Reyes professes indifference.

“I’m not worried about that streak,” he said. “When I step on the rubber, all I’m worried about is executing a pitch. It is not bothering me.

“If I start pressuring myself on this funny streak, that’s when I would start to get in trouble and start trying to do way too much.”

Freddy Garcia, whose pitches are slow, slower and slowest, stymied Jose Bautista, who was quick to accept his share of the blame for this loss.

“It’s been a while since I got a hit with runners in scoring position, so I’ve got to pick it up,” said Bautista, who was 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position. “I’m that guy in this lineup so when the situation is there, I’ve got to get it done.”

Bautista sees the Reyes futility streak as a team responsibility, rather than something that falls on one man’s shoulders.

“(Reyes) is dealing with it the best way he can and he’s done a good job of it,” said Bautista. “He’s concentrating on going out there every fifth day and doing a good job. Every time he pitches we don’t give him enough run support.

“We’ve got to play good defence and score some runs for him and we didn’t do either of those things very well today.”


Photos