Wild Drabek nearly costs Jays

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:18 AM ET

KANSAS CITY - Kyle Drabek remains a work in progress.

The rookie Blue Jays right-hander, who in the past has shown more than a passing infatuation with the base on balls, showed slight progress in that regard Tuesday night in Toronto's 8-5 win against the Kansas City Royals.

But like a whack-a-mole game at a carnival, while one problem was slammed down, another one popped up.

This game it was wild pitches and over his 5 1/3 innings, Drabek came up with four, the one in the fifth inning being a biggie as it indirectly led to a two-run inning. His first one of the game, in the opening inning, also led to a run. The four WPs, meanwhile, tied a club record.

As far as walks go, Drabek totalled three, which for him is a decent outing.

It was a battle for Drabek right from the start and one that was appreciated by both manager John Farrell and catcher J.P. Arencibia, who aided the cause greatly with a two-run homer in the eighth to supply some much-needed breathing room.

"He battled through tonight. Obviously his command came and went," Farrell said of Drabek, who equalled his career high in hits allowed with nine. "But the fact is he was on the mound in the sixth inning with some erratic command at times and really fought his way through the lineup three times. I complimented him (when he removed him from the game in the sixth) on continuing to grind through it.

"Tonight was a blue-collar outing for him. He had to fight and grind his way through it and he did."

The outing for Drabek, 4-4, was hardly inspirational but even so, it was a far better performance than his previous outing where against the Indians last Wednesday he couldn't get out of the first inning .

"It was tough for him because he didn't have his stuff tonight," Arencibia said. "One inning one pitch would be working, another inning another pitch would be working and the pitch that was working the previous inning wasn't working. It was a battle to see what he had that inning. It was pretty tough."

On another front, the Jays may have lost shortstop Yunel Escobar for an undetermined amount of time as he suffered a left quad bruise sliding into second in the opening inning. He left the game in the fourth and was replaced by Mike McCoy.

Up-Hill climb

Aaron Hill is suffering the loneliness of the long-distance runner.

Last year he had a running mate in Adam Lind, the two players leaning on each other for support while they were grinding out what proved to be sub-par seasons.

Just over two months into the 2011 campaign, Lind has regained his sweet swing but there is Hill, still pushing rocks uphill, still looking for that swing that was so successful in 2009.

Hill can look gaze across at Lind and try to find inspiration, a sort of he-made-it-back-so-I-can sort of thing. But in baseball, one teammate's success rarely rubs off on another and so while Lind keeps finding the sweet spot of the bat -- just like in the opening inning of Tuesday's game against the Royals when he crushed a two-run home run -- Hill keeps pecking away.

"It is, but it isn't," he said of finding some sort of inspiration from Lind's success. "It's always nice to see one of your guys get back and just start swinging it. It's good that he's swinging the bat like he has in the past.

"Personally, yeah, it's inspiring. You see that off what he considers a down year and when I consider myself having a down year it's always nice to think that you can come back, get back on the horse and keep going the next year."

How close is he?

"I want to say today," he said with a laugh. "I've been feeling good most of the year as far as my bat path and getting there. I've just been inconsistent with results. I feel comfortable at the plate, so just keep going."

However, it hasn't been all doom and gloom for Hill.

Coming into Tuesday's game, while his average has stayed between .245 and .250, he has been productive as far as driving in runs. Over his last 23 games he has driven in 15, which over 162 games is a 106-RBI season.

Does it feel like that to Hill?

"No," he replied. "You try to get the job done the best you can and you take a lot of pride getting them in because you're helping the team.

"But you tend to look at everything, batting average, I guess it's OK. It's just not going my way right now. You want to barrel balls and hope to find the holes and sometimes, you just don't."

When asked if he could fix just one aspect of his game, snap his fingers, what would it be? Hill thought long and hard.

"Well, it would be on the offensive side," he started. "It would probably be .... I guess just the consistency. It's one thing that everybody would want more of, more consistent barrels (as in barreling the ball)."

Meanwhile, Hill plugs along.


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