Too little, too late for Jays
By KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency
|Blue Jays batter Juan Rivera throws down his bat in disgust while running to first base on Tuesday night. (ERNEST DOROSZUK/QMI Agency)
TORONTO - After three games in which the Blue Jays knocked out 46 hits and scored 33 runs, the well went dry Tuesday night against Cleveland starter Mitch Talbot.
By the time they were able to mount any kind of offence against the Cleveland bullpen, it was too late to extend their four-game winning streak which went down the drain in this 6-3 defeat.
The Indians got to Toronto starter Brandon Morrow for six runs on nine hits over five innings, dropping his record to 2-3 with an ERA of 5.11.
Toronto avoided a shutout with a pair of seventh-inning runs facilitated by an error by Indians’ second baseman Orlando Cabrera but were unable to sustain the rally. Yunel Escobar got them within three runs with his sixth homer in the ninth, but the mountain was too high to climb.
Morrow, who pitched well and got a no-decision in a 3-1 loss to the White Sox in his last start, was sharp at times, striking out nine, but the Indians put the ball in play, hitting them in the gaps.
“I think I’m making good pitches,” Morrow said. “My stuff has been there. It just seems every time they put the ball in play it’s over the shortstop’s head or through a hole. It wears on you.”
The Indians did their hitting in bunches against Morrow. In the second inning, they parlayed back-to-back doubles by Carlos Santana and Grady Sizemore to take a 1-0 lead. In the third, they had three hits in a row, a triple and two singles that eventually led to a pair of runs.
In the fifth, they once again grouped three hits together to score three runs, all with two out. Travis Buck’s two-out walk started the rally. Santana then hit a double into the right field corner. Jose Bautista’s throw was relayed accurately and on time by Aaron Hill to catcher J.P. Arencibia, who failed to make the catch, allowing Buck to score.
Another Sizemore double scored Santana and then Cabrera’s single plated Sizemore to give the Indians a 6-0 lead that sent Morrow to the showers.
“Unfortunately the play at the plate didn’t get completed and it opened up the gates for another three runs,” said Jays manager John Farrell. “As we have typically shown, we battled back, made a couple of good swings late in the game, but the difference was that three runs in the fifth.”
Three times in the game the Jays had two men on with less than two outs but could not convert against Talbot, who was hammered for 12 hits and eight runs in three innings during his most recent start last Wednesday against Boston.
Matt LaPorta at first and Jack Hannahan at third both made outstanding plays. LaPorta’s came on a ball scalded by Eric Thames with two runners in scoring position in the fourth.
Boys of Summer School
Travis Snider and Brett Cecil were both sent to Las Vegas to work on specific improvements and while Farrell and GM Alex Anthopoulos both report progress, their enthusiasm is restrained.
Snider is working on swing changes that are expected to produce more consistent hard contact. Cecil’s assignment is to get his fastball spotted down in the strike zone.
“Mixed results,” Farrell said, talking about Snider. “He’s had some games where he’s squared some pitches up. What we’re not measuring is the batting average. We’re looking at fundamental adjustments that are being worked on. In these situations, you don’t have a date on a calendar when someone is going to make a fundamental adjustment. It’s a matter of monitoring the hard hits against some of the better pitchers in the PCL.”
“Cecil has made strides,” Anthopoulos said. “He continues to work on things though there are times when the ball gets up in the zone. All the scouts who’ve gone in there say the same thing. For an inning or two it’s the same guy we saw last year and then the other innings, he reverted back. That’s a lot better than we saw earlier. He’s getting there.”
Don’t expect to see either player back in Toronto soon.
“They’re both on the right track,” Anthopoulos said. “Time line? I have no idea. If they’re back to doing what they’re capable of doing, they’d be two huge adds to this club.”
Escobar’s third-inning single extended his career high hit streak to 12 games. Escobar has reached base safely in 45 of 53 games this year. On this current streak, he is hitting .356 (16-45) .... The Jays employed the same lineup for a second night in a row, a rarity this season. In 55 games, they have now fielded 48 different lineups.