TORONTO - With a runner on third base in the bottom of the 10th inning, Toronto Blue Jays batter Adam Lind had a chance at a walk-off stroke against the Los Angeles Angels.
Facing a five-man infield, was Lind skilled enough to hit a ground ball straight to right-fielder Torii Hunter, who was stationed between first and second?
“Not that easy,” said Jays hitting coach Dwayne Murphy.
But Lind accomplished the feat. Hunter fielded the grounder, but his throw to home plate was wide, allowing Mike McCoy to slide in with the winning run as the Jays edged the Angels 3-2 Monday at the Rogers Centre.
“That’s an awful tough play for an outfielder if you don’t practice it,” said Murphy.
To start the inning, McCoy reached first base on an error. He then advanced on an Eric Thames single and moved to third as Jose Bautista's grounder erased Thames at second.
“I was trying to hit it to an outfielder -- in the outfield,” said Bautista of the bloated infield.
“With the speed in Angels outfield, they probably only need two to cover the ground,” said Toronto's Mark Teahen.
“Ah, I rolled over on the pitch,” said Lind.
On a walk-off hit, celebrating players usually sprint to the man who knocks in the game-winning run.
Led by Brett Lawrie, the Jays charged out of the dugout to congratulate Lind at game's end.
But on this night, Toronto's Ricky Romero was the real architect behind Toronto's victory.
“We were looking for (Romero), but he was in the clubhouse,” said DeWayne Wise of the team wanting to congratulate its ace.
Romero pitched nine innings allowing six hits, including solo home runs to Torii Hunter and Mark Trumbo, and fanning five in his 110-pitch outing.
After allowing the Hunter homer in the second, Romero recorded eight consecutive ground ball outs. Romero surpassed his career high of 210 innings in a season six outs into the game. He’s now thrown 24 quality outings in 31 starts.
“(Romero’s) going to get better,” said Jays catcher Jose Molina. “He’s going to keep improving. He has two or three Cy Young Awards in his future.”
Toronto's Casey Janssen pitched out of a none-out jam after Vernon Wells opened the 10th with a double ... The Jays had three runners thrown out on the bases: Eric Thames singled down the first-base line, but was gunned out by Hunter at second in the fifth, Kelly Johnson was thrown out attempting to steal to end the second (he's now 15-for-19 with the Jays and Arizona Diamondbacks) and J.P. Arencibia broke for second, Jerome Williams stepped off and caught him stealing for the final out of the fourth (he's 1-for-2) ... Two walks and an error by Angels starter Williams set the stage for Arencibia and the only hit in the fourth, a 108 hopper to right field that led to two unearned runs.
OUT OF LEFT FIELD
Texas Rangers left fielder Josh Hamilton has said playing left at the Rogers Centre is the toughest in majors when it comes to hecklers. "I didn't believe it," said Angels outfielder Vernon Wells ... Wells started 1,338 games in centre over 12 years for the Jays. "Never heard a thing in centre -- well maybe I did hear a few things -- but I never heard anything from left." And now? "They are the best, they are consistent and persistent, they are loud and funny, they are passionate for the home side, they must all wake up the next day with sore throats," Wells said before Monday's game. "I find myself laughing at how funny they are. They are tougher here than Yankee Stadium." ... What topics are covered? "My average, my contract, things that aren't printable. But they are impressive. Sometimes I cover my mouth with my glove, they have me laughing so hard. That's how witty and quick fans are."
While Toronto's Adam Loewen was on the mound pitching 3 2/3 scoreless innings against Team USA in 2006 in the World Baseball Classic at Chase Field in Phoenix, Ariz., Adam Stern was in centre. Stern went 3-for-4, including an inside-the-park homer, a triple and four RBIs ... "Adam Loewen making it all the way back as a hitter is impressive, coming back and playing centre is impressive, but pinch running? I didn't know he'd improved his speed," said Stern from London, Ont., in his first year of retirement from the Milwaukee Brewers "I had to double check when I saw it, I know if I was bunting, I wouldn't want him getting thrown out at third." ... Countered Loewen on the subject of speed "One winter we trained together with Peter Twist (Vancouver Canucks sports conditioning trainer). I beat him in a lot of the speed drills." ... Stern coached at the recent Mizuno camp for the best 15 and 16-year-olds from across the country ... Said Stern: "Seriously, it's good to see what Alex Anthopoulos and Andrew Tinnish are doing. There's was a lot of energy when we were at the Rogers Centre watching Brett Lawrie and (Loewen)."
ONE FROM THE ELEVATOR
Emily, the Rogers Centre elevator operator: "Could I see your pass please sir?" ... Jays broadcaster Jerry Howarth: "Sure Emily, Brad Pitt was here for Moneyball, I stole his pass, I hope it's OK." ... Howarth showed Emily his pass, with the accompanying picture.
Chris Woodward's best Wells story ... "One day in Baltimore in 2003, day game after a night game (Wells) says 'you know I'm not going to swing a bat until the first pitch of the game.' I'm watching him on deck ... didn't swing once," Woodward said. "First pitch he waffles off the right field wall for a double. I said to him 'So the game is that easy for you?'" ... Wells recalls the day and thinks he might have been facing right-hander Rick Helling ... "I try it a couple of times you just go up and swing like when you were a kid," said Wells.