TORONTO - On a beautiful afternoon by the lake in a game that featured a pair of left-handed starters, less wasn’t more.
Although the Texas Rangers’ Derek Holland and the Toronto Blue Jays’ Brad Mills both threw with their left arms, that’s where the similarities ended.
Holland had grade-A stuff this day, his fastball humming in between 94-96 m.p.h. and his curve showing great break and action.
On the other side, Mills was making his first start of the season for the Jays and with the wind at his back he was humping it in between 84-86. On one occasion got it all the way up to 87. Hard throwing is not his game. He survives on the ability to mix speeds, keep hitters off balance and throw strikes.
Holland? He has the ability to throw it by you.
Mills acquitted himself beautifully, but ended up the loser as the Jays were blanked 3-0.
The only scoring Mills allowed occurred in the second when Mike Napoli singled and Mitch Moreland followed with his 13th homer of the season to right centre.
That was it.
Mills went seven innings, allowed six hits, the two runs, walked two (one intentionally) and struck out five. That’s usually plenty good enough to win.
Just not this day. Not against Holland, who held the Jays to four singles of which just one — Jose Bautista’s single to left in the sixth — made it out of the infield.
Overall, Mills was pleased with his effort.
“I’m not going to throw 95 like their guy did today,” Mills said. “I’m a mix guy, going to throw four pitches for strikes, just try to keep them off balance and I was able to work that plan today.”
He didn’t attempt to change anything from what he had been doing all season at Las Vegas.
“I felt like I did a lot of the stuff that I did down there,” Mills said. “My biggest goal this year was to throw a ton of innings, prove I’m a workhorse, prove I’m durable. To go seven today, throw that many pitches (117 pitches), it gives me satisfaction.”
He also showed enough to Jays manager John Farrell to earn another start.
“He certainly earned another opportunity, there’s no doubt about it,” Farrell said. “He did a very good job today.”
Holland, though, was better.
Boom or bust
It’s been an up-and-down July for Jays slugger Bautista.
In the first nine games of the month, he socked seven home runs, including hitting a pair July 9 at Cleveland.
But since that date, Bautista has played in 14 games and has not hit one dinger. Over that time he has contributed with eight RBIs and has hit safely in 10 of the 13 games, going 12-for-43 (.279).
While Bautista has been kept in the park, so too has Jays first baseman Adam Lind, who has produced just one home run in his past nine games.
But since Bautista last hit a homer, the Jays have gone 10-6, which is a good sign for the team as it shows they do not lean on their top two sluggers to provide all the scoring.
“I think what you’ve seen over the past three weeks is that our lineup has lengthened out and we’re getting contributions from guys up and down the lineup instead of just the middle of the order,” Farrell said. “It’s a very good sign to see the production being distributed through a number of guys rather than just Jose and Adam.”
In the first inning, Bautista caught a break when with two out he launched a high pop up between first and second. Michael Young, making the start at first, called the ball but then lost it in the sun and it fell safely for an infield single ... In the second inning Rangers right fielder Mitch Moreland hit a 1-0 pitch right on the nose and drilled it into the seats in right centre for a two-run home run. What is noteworthy is that it was the first home run the left-handed hitting Moreland has ever hit in his two-year Major League career vs. a left-handed pitcher. It has taken Moreland 64 games and 102 at-bats before connecting off a left-hander ... With two out and runners on second and third in the second, the Jays’ J.P. Arencibia worked a full count and then was caught looking as Derek Holland rolled in a 3-2 curve for strike three. Earlier in the inning, the Jays lost a run when with Rajai Davis on first, Holland threw wildly past first on John McDonald’s bunt. Davis would have scored on the play but when the ball bounced into the seats he was sent back to third. Arencibia then struck out ... Mills pitched his way out of a two-out, bases-loaded jam in the fourth when he induced Chris Davis to hit a grounder to second for a fielder’s choice out at second ... Rangers leadoff hitter Ian Kinsler snapped an 0-for-21 slump with a single in the fifth ... Jays pitcher Jesse Litsch came on in relief in the eighth and with one out gave up a solo shot to Mike Napoli ... Another tough day for newcomer Colby Rasmus who went 0-for-4. Since being acquired from the Cardinals, Rasmus has gone 0-for-12.