TORONTO - If you’re unsure of what gutting it out means, than watch a video of Carlos Villanueva’s outing on Sunday.
Making his third start since being bumped into the rotation due to the rash of injuries to the starters, Villanueva blanked the Cleveland Indians over six innings, a 102-pitch performance where he had base runners in scoring position in four of the them.
Each time, though, Villanueva refused to buckle and finished his day with five walks, a career high eight strikeouts and the W in the Jays 3-0 victory.
Mostly, though, it was a struggle.
He was at his toughest in the second after a leadoff double by Michael Brantley, who moved to third on a fly out to right.
Villanueva kept him there as he induced Johnny Damon to pop out to second and ended the inning by striking out Jack Hannahan.
With the win, Villanueva moved to 4-0 while the Jays won the rubber game in the series and moved to 45-44 on the season.
“I just didn’t feel right from the first inning and they had a good game plan against me, waiting me out,” Villanueva said of his day. “J.P. (Arencibia) and myself adjusted accordingly and we used my fastball more in middle counts. The second time through we were a little more aggressive and we grunted it out.”
In his final inning, against his final batter, a strikeout of Casey Kotchman, he was pitching on fumes.
“I was grinding out there and got the two outs,” Villanueva said. Then came two walks before Kotchman.
“At the end it was a good old backup slider and I think it surprised everybody, me, him, J.P. everybody and that’s why he swung through it, because it was such a bad pitch,” Villanueva said with a laugh. “I threw it up, didn’t know where it was going to go. But he swung through it. So I don’t really care how it happens, it got the last out and after that we got the win.”
SURGERY FOR SANTOS
Closer Sergio Santos is now officially gone for the season and who knows about 2013 and beyond?
In his pre-game scrum with reporters, manager John Farrell said Santos will undergo surgery for a torn labrum in the near future, the surgery to be performed by Dr. Lewis A. Yocum, a renowned orthopaedic surgeon who resides in Anaheim, Calif., and is a specialist in sports injuries, especially shoulders.
Given that Santos has been on the disabled list since April 21 and surgery has always been the final option, the news is not as shattering as what happened in June when a trio of Blue Jays starters went down over a four-day period.
Still, it’s another Jays pitcher who will require surgery in a seemingly never ending list.
“He tried to ramp up close to game speed, he felt discomfort, he’s been shut down and we’re now arranging shoulder surgery,” Farrell said when asked about Santos’ bullpen session Saturday.
Farrell said the surgery will be focused on the labrum and that his rotator cuff was intact and completely healthy.
“Given all that he’s gone through, taking every step along the way, we’re at the point where it’s got to be surgically explored, repaired,” Farrell said.
When Santos went down back in April the Jays initially turned to Francisco Cordero to close them out. Cordero, though, was not up to the task, went 2-for-5 in save situations and the job fell to Casey Janssen, who has responded by going a perfect 13-for-13 since taking over the closer role.
Farrell said the Jays expect that Santos is expected to be back with the team at next year’s spring training. However, given the iffy nature of shoulders and their lengthy recovery time there is no clear timetable as to when he would be able to make it back to the big leagues.
Given that fact that shoulder injuries and subsequent surgeries are often career killers, the ghost of Mike Sirotka can once again be seen parading around Rogers Centre.
Sirotka was the starting pitcher the Jays acquired in the 2000 off-season in a five-player deal that was essentially Sirotka for David Wells. Sirotka, however, never pitched for the Jays due to shoulder problems and the Jays claimed he arrived as ‘damaged goods’ and lost their appeal to Commissioner Bud Selig to have the trade overturned.
Given that history and the fact that Santos came over in a trade with the same White Sox and same GM, Kenny Williams, the conspiracy theorists may be thinking that this is ‘ShoulderGate 2’.
Farrell dismissed that notion in one word.
“No” he said when asked if he thought Santos arrived as damaged goods.