Jays blow it in home opener

Blue Jays closer Sergio Santos waits for manager John Farrell to take him out of the game after...

Blue Jays closer Sergio Santos waits for manager John Farrell to take him out of the game after blowing a save against the Red Sox at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ont., April 9, 2012. (FRED THORNHILL/Reuters)

KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:44 AM ET

TORONTO - As first impressions go, this was a total disaster.

A disaster for the Blue Jays and a nightmare for Sergio Santos in his Rogers Centre debut.

Summoned to shepherd a 2-1 lead to the finish line in the ninth inning on Monday night, the Jays’ new closer threw up all over himself, allowing three Boston runs in truly ugly fashion on the way to a 4-2 Red Sox win in front of 48,473 stunned fans.

Santos gave up two hits, three walks, a sacrifice fly, with a wild pitch and a passed ball thrown in for good measure.

“There wasn’t just one bad pitch,” said Santos. “There were a lot of bad pitches. When you play a team like Boston the way we did all night, it’s tough because you feel like you let 24 other guys down.”

The party atmosphere that permeated the building all evening turned ugly in the time it took for Santos to come unravelled and the fans booed him off the field when manager John Farrell came to get him with two outs.

“I’d be booing, too,” said Santos. “It wasn’t pretty. I’ve got to be ready for tomorrow. I hope it’s another save situation. All I can do is be prepared for the next day and hopefully get the job done.

“It’s baseball. I’m not going to pout and whine about it. It is what it is..”

Santos is relatively new to the closer role and may have been affected by the raucous atmosphere in the park.

“Obviously, there was adrenalin flowing,” he said. “How can you not feel it? It was electric tonight. That’s what you want to see. You play baseball for that and you come in to close the game, fans on their feet and it’s just unfortunate I didn’t do my job.”

With all of that, the Jays still had a chance to cut the rally off at 2-2 when Jose Bautista, after fielding Ryan Sweeney’s single, had pinch-runner Darnell McDonald cold at the plate, but catcher J.P. Arencibia couldn’t corral the low throw for the third out.

The ninth-inning Boston rally ruined the Jays’ homecoming party that began with such high hopes and a positive first impression from centre fielder Colby Rasmus.

Rasmus came to spring training this year determined to hit the reset button on a career that went seriously off the rails last season. Once one of the bright young stars in St. Louis, Rasmus had fallen so badly out of favour that he was dealt to Toronto for bullpen help at the deadline last July.

In his final two months of the season, the centre fielder performed so poorly that he cast doubt in a lot of minds as to whether the Blue Jays had, in fact, traded for a dud, rather than a stud.

But, in one shining inning, the third, he took a big bite out of the redemption apple with a spectacular defensive play, then a triple, off a left-hander no less and, finally, a mad dash to the plate to deliver Toronto’s first run on a night when runs were at a premium.

Moments after he dove headlong and snared Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s liner inches from the turf in centre field for the second out in the top of the third, Rasmus came to the plate with one out in the bottom of the inning. He fouled off lefty Felix Doubront’s first two pitches then, with the count 0-2, ripped the next pitch into the right-centre gap. It rolled to the wall and he outraced the relay for a triple.

After Yunel Escobar walked, Kelly Johnson hit a chopper to the right of the mound, Doubront threw to the plate but Rasmus’ head-first slide to the foul side of the plate allowed him to elude Saltalamacchia’s tag.

One out later, Escobar scored easily from second base on Edwin Encarnacion’s single into left to make the score 2-0.

Meanwhile, Toronto starter Henderson Alvarez was doing what he does best: Throwing strikes and inducing contact. He held the Bosox scoreless into the sixth inning when he was nicked for his only run on a Dustin Pedroia home run.

Darren Oliver and Francisco Cordero kept that slender advantage intact into the ninth, each tossing a scoreless inning of relief. In the ninth, Pedroia’s leadoff double, a passed ball and Adrian Gonzalez’s long sac fly to left wrecked Santos’ attempt to earn his first save as a Blue Jay.

After Kevin Youkilis struck out, Santos issued consecutive walks to David Ortiz and Cody Ross. McDonald ran for Ortiz and when Ryan Sweeney singled to right, McDonald looked to be DOA at the plate but Bautista’s off-balance throw was low and Arencibia couldn’t hold on. Boston added its fourth run on a wild pitch.

“The ninth inning obviously got away from Sergio, starting with the elevated fastball to Pedroia for the double,” said manager John Farrell. “I thought he started to overthrow his fastball. He yanked a number of pitches out of the strike zone. The two walks obviously lead to those three runs (but) I thought he had a good feel for his change up and his slider.”


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