TORONTO - It took two years, 351 days, thousands upon thousands of air miles, 15 cities, two countries and 29 starts but Jo-Jo Reyes found his way back to the winner’s circle.
All those games where one pitch, one hit, one timely catch, one umpire’s call had doomed Reyes to another loss or no-decision dissolved in an avalanche of Blue Jay runs Monday night.
For the first time since
June 13, 2008 Reyes has a W after his name in the boxscore after the Jays bludgeoned the Cleveland Indians 11-1.
“He had been in position to end this a while ago,” manager John Farrell said. “Whether it was baseball fate, whatever you want to call it, to put an end to it once and for all, he finished what he started.”
This was a true milestone, his first-ever complete game in his 48th career start as he sailed through nine innings, allowing six hits and four walks, the only blemish a long home run hit by Shelley Duncan — the 15th fifth-deck shot in Rogers Centre history.
“This night belongs to Jo-Jo,” Farrell said. “I think it was fitting that he finished what he started. As the game went along he got more sharp.”
Reyes still shares the major-league record for futility at 28 consecutive winless starts with Matt Keough (1978-79) and Cliff Curtis (1910-11) but he can leave it all behind him now.
It was a small crowd of 12,902 but they chanted him home with gusto in the ninth, and after he delivered his 121st pitch to strike out Jack Hannahan, he got the Gatorade bath from catcher J.P. Arencibia and then later a shaving cream pie.
“Even before the game a few fans were chanting ‘We believe’ and it was awesome to have that support,” Reyes said.
Rajai Davis keyed Toronto’s 13-hit attack with two doubles and a single. He scored three runs and drove in two more. Jayson Nix, Eric Thames, J.P. Arenciabia, Jose Bautista and Yunel Escobar all had a pair of hits for Toronto. Nix’s homer got things rolling in the third inning.
As a Blue Jay this year, Reyes has been robbed of victory by the Jays’ bullpen on several occasions and failed to get enough run support at other times. The Jays are now 4-7 in his 11 starts. He is now 1-4 with six no-decisions.
“My teammates wanted me to break this streak as much as everybody else,” Reyes said.
In the fourth, the Blue Jays sent 11 men to the plate, scoring seven times against Cleveland starter Fausto Carmona.
Central to the debacle for the Indians was a brain-dead play by second baseman Orlando Cabrera on a bases-loaded groundball that, had he turned the double play, would have ended the inning with only two runs scored.
Cabrera couldn’t find the handle on the ball and he knelt and sulked with his back to the plate, allowing a second run to score. The Jays combined two singles, three doubles, a wild pitch, a walk and the aforementioned dreadful error to put up a seven on the board.
The Lawrie Express
After 51 games at triple A, if Brett Lawrie has anything more he needs to show the Blue Jays before he gets promoted, John Farrell can’t think of it.
Overall, the third baseman-in-waiting is hitting .354 (79-for-223) with an on-base percentage of .413, a slugging percentage of .677 and an OPS of 1.090 at Las Vegas.
He has 15 home runs, he’s driven in 49 runs and scored 51 times. Thirty-eight of his 79 hits have been for extra bases.
As good as his April numbers were, his May numbers are even better. In May, he has hit .349/.418/.750/1.168 with 11 HR and 25 extra-base hits out of 44 hits total.
On the defensive side, Lawrie has made a dozen errors at third base, a troublesome number. But there has been progress on that front, as well. He made seven errors in his first 12 games but just five in his most recent 39 games. In fact, he has not committed an error in 36 of his last 39 games. Of those five errors, Lawrie has made just one fielding error and four throwing miscues.
“Two of those throwing errors were made throwing into a 30-mph wind,” Farrell said. “He really doesn’t have anything left to prove. We’ve asked him to address some things and he’s gone out and done them. He just keeps getting better.”
One of the reasons the Jays have kept Lawrie in Las Vegas to this point is to fine-tune his selectivity at the plate and there has been measurable progress on this point. In 101 plate appearances in April, Lawrie walked four times and struck out 23 times. In 144 plate appearances so far in May, he has walked 14 times and struck out just 17 times, mashing the ball all along the way.
Since spring, Lawrie’s ETA in Toronto has been discussed in terms of months or weeks. Don’t be surprised if it’s now down to days and hours.