Rays top Blue Jays, narrow gap

Tampa Bay Rays batter Johnny Damon breaks his bat during the second inning of an American League...

Tampa Bay Rays batter Johnny Damon breaks his bat during the second inning of an American League MLB game against Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, September 25, 2011. REUTERS/Chip Litherlan

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:45 PM ET

St. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Not a good day when the best news comes from the trainer’s room.

Jose Bautista crashed into a metal door jam imbedded in the right field fence and has a contusion on his left knee.

“It could have been something more severe,” said manager John Farrell. “Jose was examined and the ligament looks to be fine.

It would be difficult to imagine the weekend under the Tropicana big top being worse, unless David Price had make accurate throws to the bases Friday. His errors led to a Toronto win, while the Jays gave away five unearned runs in Saturday’s loss.

It was a weekend where Jays’ infielders and outfielders interacted like they’d never been on the same field before when the ball was in the air and Brett Cecil finished the season with another disappointing outing as the Jays lost a 5-2 to the Tampa Bay Rays.

If it looked like one team was done and the other had something to play for, it’s because it was true. With the win before 21,008 fans, the Rays moved to within 1/2 a game of the Boston Red Sox in the wild-card race heading Sunday night’s second game of the double header.

Boston, which led the Rays by nine games on Sept. 2, lost Sunday afternoon in New York.

Bautista had leapt in an effort to catch Ben Zobrist’s first-inning drive, he crashed into the ball, his left knee striking metal. He right knee appeared to hyper extend on impact from the replays.

Centre fielder DeWayne Wise fielded the ball off the wall, but Zobrist was able to circle the bases with the 10th inside-the-park home run in Tropicana history.

Trainer George Poulis made the jog to right along with Farrell. The American League home run leader and THE reason to see the Jays, remained in the game until Mark Teahen pinch hit for him in the sixth.

“As the game went on there was swelling, then it became sore,” Bautista told reporters.

Farrell said “I feel liked we dodged a bullet.”

Like the way the Jays fielders were dodging pop ups.

Watching from afar: What does veteran reliever Casey Janssen see in Cecil, who has lost seven straight, compared to a year ago when the lefty led the Jays with 15 wins? ... “He’s getting the ball up, not as much confidence as a year ago, less swagger,” said Janssen ... “His consistency is not there start to start. A year ago he knew what he had, this year he wasn’t sure what he was going to get.” ... “But his hits to innings pitched (122 hits allowed in 123 2/3 innings) are still respectful. I think he’s still got it in him.”

Voice of reason: Rays broadcaster Brian Anderson on Tampa Bay TV in the first: “Cecil throws roughly 3/5s of his pitches on the inside of the plate to right-handed hitters. With his velocity he should pitch away ... not inside to a right-handed hitter’s power.” ... Within moments right-handed hitting B.J. Upton pulled a homer to right ... Cecil allowed the inside-the-park homer to Zobrist two batters later and a two-run homer to Evan Longoria in the third ... He’s allowed 23 homers -- all to right-handed hitters ... Cecil lasted 3 1/3 innings allowing four runs on five hits, two walks and a hit batter ... He threw 73 pitches, eight more than his previous outing ... Said Farrell: “it was the same issue as before: inconsistency. He got a breaking ball up in the zone to Longoria, a 2-0 fastball up to Upton and a ball up that Zobrist hit over Bautista’s head.”

The lefty Erik Hanson: Cecil was hoping to end the season on a positive note to take into winter workouts ... “I can’t leave the ball up in the zone and pitch well. The only good thing to take out of the season is that I pitched over 200 innings. For as many losses as I had, I found myself pitching in the sixth and seventh. The only time I didn’t was at triple-A and the last few starts. I could be mistaken, maybe one or two more.” ... Going seven for a loss should not be a goal ... “I’ve looked at the games in Texas,” Cecil said, “plus the one at home and I didn’t like my mechanics, haven’t really liked them the whole season. I’m sure as hell glad that it’s over.”

Doubtful: While Farrell suggested Bautista would not play Monday, Bautista said he’d know after the three-hour flight to Chicago if his knee would allow him to play ... “There’s no reason to take days off,” said Bautista.

In Game: The Jays managed three hits a run-scoring double in the second by David Cooper, an Eric Thames triple in the third, Wise’s solo homer in the fifth and zero singles ... Wade Davis, now 11-10 and Joel Peralta retired the final 12 Jays in order after Thames’ lead-off walk in the sixth ... Jays were hitless with three at-bats with men in scoring position ... Adam Loewen struck out five straight times (including Saturday) before flying to the warning track in centre the seventh ... Shawn Camp, Luis Perez and Danny Farquhar had scoreless outings.

Projecting: Tim Wilken, the Cubs scouting director, was a Jays area scout in 1986. Four of his draft picks from that year now hold front office positions: Oneri Fleita (who played first at Dade North College) is the Chicago Cubs farm director, Dean Decillis (shortstop, Dade South) a national cross checker with the Jays, Greg Lonigro (shortstop, Florida College) scouts for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Junior Bicciano (right-hander, Indian River) a cross checker with the Kansas City Royals. “I did a good job at looking down the road,” said Wilken jokinginly.


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