August 3, 2012
Jays have no answers
By MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency
OAKLAND - Ricky Romero, the Blue Jays fan base turns their lonely eyes to you.
With the Jays losing skid hitting a season-high six games the team will look to its embattled ‘ace’ to put a stop to the slide when he takes to the hill Saturday.
On Friday night, the A’s logged their 13th walk-off win of the season with a 5-4 victory in the 15th inning in a game where Oakland prized right-hander Dan Straily made his major league debut.
The Athletics finally ended things in the 15th when Jemile Weeks led off the inning with a triple against Aaron Loup.
Coco Crisp ended it a few minutes before midnight with a sac fly to centre and it was magic time for the Athletics once again.
Trailing 4-1 entering the ninth, the Jays tied it in dramatic fashion on a three-run, two-out homer by Jeff Mathis on a 3-2 pitch.
The Jays, though, couldn’t hold on to the momentum created by Mathis’ heroics and it was Oakland who pirated it away.
The Jays also ended the game without a designated hitter as Colby Rasmus left the game after the top of the 12th. That forcd reliever Aaron Loup to led off the 15th and he ground out to short.
The game took 4:47 to play.
Both teams missed golden opportunities in extra frames.
In the 10th the A’s had the bases loaded and one out but Jays reliever Brad Lincoln came up big by striking out Josh Reddick and inducing Brandon Moss to ground out to short.
Lincoln, it should be pointed out, turned in a terrific performance as he blanked the A’s over 3 1/3 innings, holding them to one hit.
Then in the top of the 12th with Omar Vizquel on first, Rasmus sliced a ball into the left field corner. Third base coach Brian Butterfield waved Vizquel home but the 45-year-old vet slowed after rounding third and was easily thrown out at the plate.
The Jays, who had been struggling to score runs in the absence of Jose Bautista, Adam Lind, J.P. Arencibia and the trade of Travis Snider, also lost one of their few remaining offensive threats when third baseman Brett Lawrie was removed from the game in the bottom of the first.
Lawrie’s night lasted one at bat — he was called out on a 3-2 pitch that appeared low.
In the bottom of the inning, he was replaced in the field by Omar Vizquel. Lawrie the victim of rib cage tightness.
Heading into Friday’s game, Farrell had seen his starter Brett Cecil step it up a notch over his previous three starts where against Detroit, Oakland and the Yankees, he allowed, respectively, three, two and three earned runs.
“He’s doing a much better job of understanding the effort level in his delivery to repeat the bottom of the strike zone,” Farrell said. “Then when he’s elevated some pitches by design, he’s gotten some swings and misses up. That’s why we’re seeing the increased strikeout totals as well. The fact is over the body of work of the (last) three starts he’s done a very good job for us, kept us in games. We haven’t had a whole lot of run support behind him but the three-run homer (he gives up) has been a little bit of a bugaboo for him.”
It wasn’t a three-run shot that killed him this game, but a pair of solo ones.
Jonny Gomes got him in the third with two out and on a 0-2 count. Cecil attempted to climb the ladder and have Gomes chase a fastball out of the zone but Gomes got on top of it and tonged it out.
In the fourth, Chris Carter simply murdered a hanging breaking ball.
Both homers were hit by right-handed hitters.
Cecil’s start was so-so — five innings, nine hits, four runs, one walk, one strikeout.
Over his big league career, Cecil has held left-handed hitters to a .229 average while right-handers are hitting him at a .287 clip. His strikeout-to-walk ratio against lefties is 3.03 against 1.81 when facing right-handed hitters.
Does that difference suggest that he may have a different role in the future, perhaps as a situational reliever?
“Yes and that’s been part of discussions going forward as far as it relates to Jay (J.A. Happ),” Farrell said. “When we look to take advantage of the skills of all the pitchers we have here and how we can best employ them. At the same time, we don’t want to turn our back on games in which Brett has kept us in games, pitched deeper into games and given us innings in a starter’s role. But yes, he’s been very good against left-handed hitters.”
As for Straily, he’s emerged as a prized phenom after being drafted in the 24th round in 2009.
In the minor leagues this season at double-A Midland and triple-A Sacramento, Straily had struck out 175 batters in 138 1/3 innings. He was 8-6 overall in the minors with a 2.60 ERA.
Against the Jays he allowed one run and five hits over six innings and struck out five.