Jays grind one out at home

Toronto Blue Jays batter Rajai Davis jumps into the arms of teammates after driving in the winning...

Toronto Blue Jays batter Rajai Davis jumps into the arms of teammates after driving in the winning run against the Philadelphia Phillies during the 10th inning of their MLB interleague baseball game in Toronto June 16, 2012. (Mike Cassese/REUTERS)

Ken Fidlin, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:23 PM ET

TORONTO - It was the morning after the night before and the news of yet another starting pitcher lost to injury had to be sitting like a rancid meal in the pit of John Farrell’s stomach.

But the Blue Jay manager wanted ... no, needed, to make a point.

“This is a challenge, this isn’t, 'Woe is me,’ ” Farrell said, and there was some heat behind his words.

“No one gives a $#!7 about the Toronto Blue Jays other than the people in that clubhouse. Everyone has their issues, and this provides opportunities for others and we’re not going to put our tail between our legs and run from this. Challenges bring out the characteristics in many, and we’re in that spot.”

In a span of four games, Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison have suffered injuries that will keep them sidelined for a considerable period. That’s 60% of the starting rotation on the shelf. Unfortunately, the schedule is relentless and Farrell wanted everyone, especially his team to recognize it.

Talk can be cheap but not on this score. The Blue Jays reacted to this adversity as they have so often, grinding out a come-from-behind 6-5 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies Saturday that had the Jays talking proud when it was over.

Down 5-2 in the eighth inning to tough pitcher, and lefty, Cliff Lee, the Jays rallied, with help from some atrocious Phils’ fielding, to tie the score. Then they won it in the 10th inning on a Rajai Davis, two-out, two-strike base hit to the wall in left-centre that scored Yunel Escobar from third.

“Adversity just makes you tighter and stronger,” said Davis, who had a pair of hits and scored a run as well as his game-winning RBI. “It can either make you or break you and this team is a team of character.

"We have a lot of strength in our character and I think we’ll bounce back. It’s a tough break but these types of things happen in baseball. Maybe there’s going to be some good out of it.

It was not a vintage day for Ricky Romero, but given the chaotic state of the Toronto rotation, maybe it was enough just to survive. He worked six innings, allowed seven hits and four earned runs but was plagued by a succession of two-out hits. The most damaging was a three-run homerun on a hanging breaking ball that John Mayberry launched in the third inning.

“I made one bad pitch,” said Romero. “Two outs, you can’t let that happen. You’ve got to shut down the inning quick.All you can do is go out there and try to grind out whatever you can.”

Romero was thankful for the offence which took him off the hook, leaving his record at 7-1 “The sticks came along and I was happy that we won,” he said. “It’s unfortunate to lose Brandon, Drabek and Hutch. It’s been rough. But on the other hand it’s time for another guy to step up. We’ve got Cec (Brett Cecil) on Sunday.

"People can count us out but in baseball, you play 27 outs and as long as we do that like we did today, good things can happen.”

In the aftermath, Lee, a 17-game winner for the Phils a year ago, remains winless after 11 starts this year and is at the top of the list of hard-luck starters for 2012. Francisco Cordero picked up the win after tossing a scoreless top of the 10th.

In his six innings, Romero was tagged for seven hits, including a pair of doubles by Placido Polanco and Hunter Pence in the first to account for Philly’s initial run. The big blow came in the third when, after two were out, Romero gave up back-to-back singles to Shane Victorino and Ty Wigginton and then a three-run homer to Mayberry, Jr.

The Jays got to Lee for a run in the second inning on Escobar’s fourth home run and another in the third on Colby Rasmus’s RBI single.

The score remained 4-2 until once again the Phils rallied with two out in the top of the eighth. Reliever Robert Coello struck out the first two men, then walked the next two. Jimmy Rollins then doubled in a fifth run to stake Lee to a three-run lead.

In the bottom of the eighth, Lee walked lead-off hitter Jose Bautista, then gave up a single to Edwin Encarnacion. When Encarnacion tried to stretch it into a double, shortstop Rollins threw the ball wildly at second. Both Bautista and Encarnacion came around to score, cutting the lead to 5-4.

Kelly Johnson followed with a single, chasing Lee from the game. Reliever Chad Qualls induced a pop-up from Escobar. David Cooper, in an 0-for-18 slump, was summoned to pinch-hit for Gomes and he delivered a single to put runners at first and third for J.P. Arencibia, himself in an 0-for-13 hole. He slammed the first pitch he saw over the third-base bag for an RBI double to tie the score. Two fly-ball outs ended the inning, stranding runners at second and third.

After Cordero pitched a scoreless top of the 10th, Phils reliever Joe Savery walked Escobar to lead off the bottom of the inning. With Mike McCoy at the plate, Savery made a move to throw over to first but first baseman Ty Wigginton had already broken to cover an anticipated sacrifice bunt attempt. With no one covering, Savery was charged with a balk, moving Escobar to second base. McCoy’s ground out moved Escobar to third. After Arencibia struck out, Davis fouled off two pitches, then belted his game-winning hit to the wall in left-centre.

“It’s nice to help the team win, especially in dramatic fashion, down 0-2, odds against me,” said Davis. “It looked like a hanging break ball to me and it was a mistake I was able to put a good swing on and find a gap.”

 


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