Jays collapse in the Texas heat
By KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency
|Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, centre, throws to first to turn the double play as Toronto Blue Jays Yunel Escobar, right, slides into second and second baseman Ian Kinsler watches in the third inning in Arlington, Texas July 23, 2011. (REUTERS/Mike Stone)
ARLINGTON - A lot of Blue Jay hard work and resilience in the sweltering Texas heat went down the tubes in a ninth inning from hell Saturday night.
After rallying from a two-run early deficit to take a 4-3 lead in the sixth, then nursing it through three innings against an explosive Texas lineup, the Jays bullpen coughed up a pair of runs to allow the Rangers to walk off with a 5-4 victory.
Michael Young delivered the decisive blow, a two-out RBI single over rightfielder Corey Patterson’s head to score pinch-runner Craig Gentry and end the game.
The Jays had scored three times in the top of the sixth inning to overcome an early 3-1 Texas lead, then the bullpen nursed it through nine outs but couldn’t get the final three.
In the ninth, lefthander Marc Rzepczynski lit the fuse for the Texas rally by walking pinch-hitter Mike Napoli to lead off. Then he compounded the problem by mishandling Mitch Moreland’s sacrifice attempt, pulling Lind off the bag at first.
“I tried to get too cute after I went 0-2 on Napoli,” said Rzepczynski. “I threw the wrong pitch 3-2 and instead of making him hit his way on, I threw a changeup and bounced it.
“On the bunt play I started thinking too much, maybe to go to second, but then I rushed the throw to first. It’s my job to come in there and get those first two guys and I just didn’t do it.”
“The sac bunt is a play that must be made and it just opened the door to what we saw take place,” said manager John Farrell.
Jon Rauch came on with nobody out and runners at first and second. He got an out on Ian Kinsler’s sacrifice. The Rangers tied the game on Elvis Andrus’s sacrifice bunt that scored Napoli, as Rauch attempted, futilely, to scoop the ball to Arencibia at the plate.
Young then hit what should have been a routine fly ball out to end the inning but Patterson, in right for defensive purposes in place of Eric Thames, got turned around and the ball got over his head to end the game.
“It looked like a routine fly ball that ended up just drifting and once (Patterson) got turned around, you knew right then he was in trouble,” said manager John Farrell.
“He was playing average depth but he just wasn’t able to recover when he got turned the wrong way.”
The Jays got a run in the first and could have had at least one more if they hadn’t gotten greedy on the basepaths.
Yunel Escobar reached base when normally sure-handed shortstop Elvis Andrus clanked his routine groundball leading off, but when Escobar tried to steal second on the first pitch to Eric Thames he was easily thrown out. Thames then doubled into the right field corner and then scored another out later on Adam Lind’s double.
Texas got that run back in the bottom of the third off Toronto starter Carlos Villanueva when Josh Hamilton’s two-out triple easily scored Ian Kinsler from second base.
Texas took the lead in the fourth, combining a one-out David Murphy single, a steal of second and an RBI single by Chris Davis, just recalled Saturday to replace injured third baseman Adrian Beltre.
They added a third run in the fifth on Nelson Cruz’s two-out double that scored Hamilton from second.
The Blue Jays took the lead in the top of the sixth in unusual fashion with the first four batters hitting for the cycle, something you don’t see every day. Arencibia led off with his 15th homer. Escobar then doubled into the left field corner. He was sent scurrying home on Eric Thames’ triple into the right field corner and then Thames trotted home when Bautista singled into right-centre.
Villanueva got two outs in the sixth before giving up a single. Reliever Octavio Dotel got out of that inning with a strikeout and then Jason Frasor pitched two strong innings, facing only six batters to put the ball in Rzepczynski’s hands for the ninth.