Jays let balls fly in loss to Rays

Toronto Blue Jays first baseman David Cooper, left, backs up catcher J.P. Arencibia as he snags a...

Toronto Blue Jays first baseman David Cooper, left, backs up catcher J.P. Arencibia as he snags a pop fly hit by Tampa Bay Rays' B.J. Upton during the third inning of their American League MLB baseball game in St. Petersburg, Florida September 24, 2011. (REUTERS/Steve Nesius)

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:09 PM ET

ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. - St. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Blue Jays lost their 78th game Saturday night.

As losses go ...

“It was the worst,” said Jose Bautista, “definitely the worst of the season.”

Ricky Romero was victimized by a lack of offence earlier in season.

On this night it was a lack of an ability to catch the ball.

A foul pop up. A ground ball. A bad throw to first. And a pop up to centre which fell for a double.

Jays errors led to five unearned runs in a 6-2 Tampa Bay Rays win over Toronto before 27,773 fans at Tropicana Field Saturday night. The win puts the Rays within 1 1/2 games of the Boston Red Sox in the wild-card race.

“Ricky pitched so well (25th quality outing in 32 starts), he’s our best, we have to play well behind all our pitchers, but we didn’t get it done either way,” said Bautista.

The Jays trailed 3-2 in the eighth, on Ben Zobrist’s fourth-inning homer, when shortstop Mike McCoy clanked a grounder with B.J. Upton in no man’s land off second.

That put two runners on and brought manager John Farrell out for a first visit. Usually, pitching Bruce Walton makes the initial trip.

“He showed a lot of faith in me,” Romero told reporters. “He told me ‘you’re earned it, you’re my guy.’”

After getting an out, Johnny Damon hit a two-out, three-run, homer to right on Romero’s 114th pitch.

Three more unearned runs.

“I feel like I let him down,” Romero said.

For once Romero was wrong: his teammates let him down.

Bad snoze bears: Romero threw an extra 12 pitches in the first when the Rays scored two more unearned runs when he should have had a 1-2-3, 14-pitch first ... Instead, buckle your seats belts if you didn’t see the Bad News Bears start: with one out first baseman David Cooper didn’t catch an Upton foul pop and Upton singled on the next pitch, an out later Zobrist reached when McCoy bounced a throw past first allowing Upton to score and Damon blooped a ball to centre which either Colby Rasmus or second baseman Kelly Johnson could have caught, but apparently niether called and Damon raced to second with a double ... “Cooper over ran the ball,” Farrell told reporters, “the ball in centre was a miscommunication, ideally you’d like to see Colby catch that.” ... Jays lead the majors in errors since Aug. 1 with 46 in 50 games.

No TV: ESPN highlights showed the Arizona Diamondbacks racing to the right field fence for a dive in the swimming pool beyond the fence (Aaron Hill dove in, John McDonald did not) after clinching the National League West on Friday ... Second baseman Johnson, a Diamondback until two months ago didn’t watch, but added “I don’t watch sports on TV.” ... “I was having a horrible year there (.209, 18 homers, 49 RBIs) but it was probably more fun than any season I’ve ever had,” said Johnson. “We’d sweep a series, appreciate it, look at our lead and push ahead toward the finish line. No one was thinking what a crappy week he had individually.” ... Johnson reached post-season in 2005 with Atlanta celebrating with Tim Hudson, Jeff Francoeur, Brian McCann and Newmarket’s Peter Orr ... “Coaches here who have been to post season should try and get that feeling of celebration across to the players, the post season is a once in a lifetime feeling, maybe never for some.”

Will he or won’t he: Will Johnson, a free agent, return in 2012? “I wouldn’t mind coming back,” said Johnson, who said he had not heard from the Jays ... “This division isn’t as wide open as the NL West, but this lineup (fifth in the AL in runs scored) can do some damage. Like I always say it comes down to pitching.” ... The most impressive new teammate after watching the Jays from the other dugout? “Romero. I doubt I faced him hitting left-handed, so I may not have been paying attention. Not many guys get the kind of movement where they get ground ball outs and strikeouts.”

In Game: Two Jays were thrown out on the bases, Johnson trying to steal in the third, J.P. Arencibia trying to stretch a single in the fourth ... Romero picked Upton off first in the fifth and again in the eighth, but Upton broke on first movement and beat Cooper’s throw to Johnson at second ... McCoy was quick like a cat to react to Matt Joyce’s liner off Romero glove getting the out on a disputed call at first ... He also ranged far to his right to throw out Sean Rodriguez in the fourth ... Jays scored in the first when Jose Bautista hit his 43rd homer (his 97th in two seasons) ... Three batters later when Rasmus doubled inside the first-base bag.


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