April 20, 2012
Rays bomb .500 Jays
By MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - The series ended in the same depressing manner of so many that came before.
It was the rubber match of a three-game set between the Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays and when push came to shove it was the visiting team that proved it was just a little bit better.
The Rays pitched better and they hit better and while the Jays played better in the field that didn’t stack up against the other two aspects of the game.
The Rays are the team the Jays are being compared to as far as how they build through the draft and have oodles of young talent, but right now that talent level of the Rays appears to be a little more well defined, a little more developed.
For the second consecutive game — following a 7-3 victory on Tuesday — the Jays received a mediocre performance from their starter, this time the young Henderson Alvarez.
On two occasions the Jays came from behind to tie it but in the fifth the Rays erupted for three runs courtesy of two home runs and that was decisive in their 9-4 triumph.
A one-out homer by Desmond Jennings followed by a two-run, two-out shot by Evan Longoria was all the Rays needed to hang the loss on Henderson, 0-1 after three starts.
The game, played with the first roof opening of the season, ended a nine-game homestand where he Jays went a disappointing 4-5 with consecutive series losses to Baltimore and the Rays. They now embark on a seven-game road trip with four in Kansas City and three in Baltimore.
Not all, however, was doom and gloom for the Jays.
At the plate, J.P. Arencibia contributed a couple of hits which doubled his season’s total and after the game manager John Farrell announced that Drew Hutchison was being brought up from double-A New Hampshire to become their fifth starter. His major-league debut will come Saturday against the Royals.
As for the game, Farrell thought it was one of missed opportunities.
“Tonight was the situation where we couldn’t seem to maintain any momentum that we would generate offensively,” Farrell said. “I thought Henderson kept us in the ball game until the three runs they scored in the fifth inning.
“Back in the second inning, I thought Jose (Bautista) made a beautiful throw to home plate to cut down a runner and it looked like it hit that lip between the turf and the dirt and it just skipped over J.P.’s glove at the time.”
It’s a tough play for Arencibia but it’s one he has to make.
With two out and Matt Joyce on second, Sean Rodriguez singled to right. Bautista came charging hard on the ball with Joyce rounding third and heading for home. Bautista uncorked a perfect throw, a one-hopper to the plate that was right on the money.
However, Arencibia didn’t get a glove on it and the ball shot by him as Joyce slid home safely. If Arencibia catches the ball and makes the tag, Joyce is out and the inning over, but on that we’ll never know.
The ball that whizzed by Arencibia, meanwhile, caught Alvarez, who was backing up the play, by surprise and struck him high in the chest. It momentarily startled him and knocked him to the ground where he lay for a few seconds before collecting himself.
By this time, Rodriguez had motored around to third and he scored easily to put the Rays up 3-1 on Jennings grounder up the middle.
Farrell, though, gave his catcher a pass.
“That ball jumped over his glove,” Farrell said. “He anticipated the ball staying down and it jumped up completely over his glove. I can’t pinpoint any one thing that J.P.’s not in the right position. It was a funky hop where it jumped up more than he anticipated.”
To his credit, Arencibia came alive at the plate with a single in the second and RBI double over the right-fielder’s head in the fourth. That inning he also scored from second following a wild throw to first by shortstop Sean Rodriguez on a ground ball hit by Yunel Escobar, beating the relay to the plate with a nice slide.
Arencibia also just missed a solo shot in his next at-bat in the sixth when Joyce made a leaping catch at the wall in front of the 375-foot sign.
If his bat starts to come alive it can only help an offence that is sputtering.
As for Hutchison, he was 2-1 with the Fisher Cats with a 2.16 ERA.
“Drew’s path to the major leagues has been relatively quick but that’s the combination of talent, the combination of composure, some emotional maturity as a young pitch,” Farrell said. “He joins a group of young starters that are here.
“We like his strike-throwing ability and his overall stuff. We’re looking forward to seeing his debut and hopefully a long and fruitful career for him starting on Saturday.”