April 8, 2012
No pop, no win for Jays this timeBautista flies out with bases loaded in ninth to end comeback
By Mike Rutsey, QMI AGENCY
CLEVELAND - The Blue Jays had the right guy at the right place at the right time.
Trailing the Cleveland Indians 4-3, Jose Bautista strolled to the plate in the top of the ninth with the bases loaded and two out.
However unlike the past two games when the Jays pulled off extra-inning magic, the best Bautista could do was pop up to short on a 2-1 pitch to end the game.
The Jays headed home after the game to prepare to take on the Boston Red Sox in their home opener with a 2-1 record that could have been 3-0 with a little more in the way of timely hitting.
But at least the Jays are headed to Toronto.
That’s more than starter Joel Carreno could say as after the game the Jays announced the 25-year-old right-hander would be heading to triple-A Las Vegas with lefty Aaron Laffey moving up from Vegas to be another arm in the bullpen.
“I think coming out of spring training I’m very pleased with the way this first series went,” manager John Farrell said after Sunday’s loss. “Any time you’ve got Jose Bautista at the plate and the tying run at third, we’ll sign up for that opportunity each and every game.”
Bautista was obviously not pleased with the result in the ninth and slammed his bat into the ground after popping up. He said he got his pitch, he just didn’t connect.
“Yeah, it was a fastball and it was very hittable,” he said of the offering from closer Chris Perez. “I was just a little early on it. It was a couple of miles per hour slower than his other fastballs. I was just a tad bit ahead of it.”
Still, Bautista will take the two wins and fly home.
“Any time you win a series is good,” he said. “Unfortunately we couldn’t pull off the sweep today. But there’s going to be a lot of energy tomorrow (Monday) and we’re excited about that.”
Other than facing Carlos Santana, who hit a solo homer in the second on a fastball and two-run shot in the fifth on a hanging slider, Carreno pitched well.
“In the first at-bat I threw a fastball right down the middle and the second home run he was looking for a slider and it was hanging out over the strike zone,” he said. ‘I just tried to keep my team in the game and do my best.”
It was all the Jays could have expected from the rookie.
“Today I thought that Joel did a very good job considering that we needed someone to go relatively deep in the game,” Farrell said of his starter’s performance, the first major league start of his brief career. “He gave us six solid innings (four runs), kept us in the ball game, kept things under control. Once again we chipped away and battled back to be one swing away.”
Although they won two games, both in dramatic fashion, the Jays haven’t been banging the ball as they did through spring training.
Bautista knows they will have to pick it up, especially against the Red Sox.
“Ideally you’d like to win all three and I think our offence as a group would agree that we’d like to score more runs than we have been doing,” he said. “But we’ll take two.”
In the series, the Jays led after only two of the 37 innings played and won twice. They could have easily lost all three as they scored just two earned runs in 22 innings against the Cleveland starters.
“In some ways, yeah,” Farrell said of fortune riding with his club the first two games. “We ran up against some very good starting pitching in this series, starting with (Justin) Masterson and (Ubaldo) Jimenez.
“But setting aside falling behind early in the game, this is a team that plays right to the last out which is very consistent to what we did a year ago.”
The bottom of the Jays order has been especially quiet.
J.P. Arencibia, who had the day off Sunday, is 1-for-12, albeit his lone hit was that three-run homer in the 16th on Thursday.
Colby Rasmus went 0-for-4 and is 1-for-15 after three games while Eric Thames is 2-for-11, collecting both hits Sunday. At the top of the order, Yunel Escobar is 2-for-19.
Given all that, two out of three looks pretty good.