August 9, 2012
Blue Jays swept, place Lawrie on DL
By BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency
ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. - Henderson Alvarez, a shining light in spring training along with so many other Toronto Blue Jays starters, stood on the mound in the second inning Thursday talking to pitching coach Bruce Walton.
After Walton departed, Alvarez picked up the resin bag and spiked it like a gold-medal winning volleyball player getting the kill on match point.
He might as well have been tossing the schedule from this road trip. Or the Jays media guide.
It was a perfect illustration of the 11-day, 10-game excursion that ended with a 7-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays before 23,462 fans at Tropicana Field.
It was Toronto's eighth loss while on their Seattle-Oakland-Tampa Bay trip.
After his chat with Walton, Alvarez walked the next hitter, Sam Fuld, on five pitches. A B.J. Upton grounder then produced another run. The right-hander had a reason to be upset, but the resin bag was not to blame.
Earlier that inning, Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion could have used a fork while double clanking a lead-off grounder by Ben Zobrist. Of the three runs scored by Tampa in the second, only two were earned. For Encarnacion, who has been known as 'Steady Eddie' at first as opposed to 'E-5' playing third, it was his second error in 514 chances at first.
Or maybe Alvarez was upset from looking at the lineup card. Backups Omar Vizquel and Jeff Mathis started the game. So, too, did three players -- David Cooper, Moises Sierra and Adeiny Hechevarria -- who started the season at triple-A Las Vegas.
Hechevarria played third for the fifth straight game. The Jays placed Brett Lawrie on the 15-day disabled list due to a rib injury suffered last month when he tumbled over the railing at Yankee Stadium into a photographer’s well.
What’s left of the Jays, losers of nine of their previous 11 games, limps home to play the first-place New York Yankees in a weekend series.
“I know that the Jays train in Florida and we’re in the same county as their complex,” said one scout filling out his lineup card. “But this looks like a Toronto lineup I wrote out in early March.”
THE BEST AND THE WORST
The Jays scored 25 runs while dropping eight of 10 games during their trip and scored more than one run in five of 98 innings ... Worst averages in that stretch: Yan Gomes .000 (0-for-14), Hechavarria .071 (1-for-14), Mathis .103 (3-for-29), Kelly Johnson .167 (6-for-36), Lawrie .167 (3-for-18) ... The best: Sierra .350 (7-for-20), Colby Rasmus .272 (9-for-33), Rajai Davis .256 (10-for-39), Cooper .250 (8-for-32) and Anthony Gose .240 (9-for-42).
Vizquel reached far to his right to retire Carlos Pena for the first out of the second and charged a Fuld bunt, fielded it with his bare hand and threw across his body for the first out of the fourth ... Davis dropped Evan Longoria’s fly ball in the seventh. “We had the error at first, another error in left, a ball that has to be caught,” Jays manager John Farrell told reporters. “We have to play to the best of our ability. Whether that means focusing on attention to detail, we have to continue to execute and put on a better performance than this trip” ... After the first three Jays base runners each stole a base, Rays starter Matt Moore reacted by setting down the next 14 batters in order. Davis led off the first with a double, stole third and following a walk to Encarnacion scored on a balk. Encarnacion also stole third. Next inning, Sierra singled and stole second ... Toronto went hitless between Sierra’s lead-off single in the second to Cooper’s two-out double in the ninth.
Usually when there are a string of hit batters, inside pitches or a breaking of one of baseball’s unwritten rules, teams will reply to one another in kind. The Jays did not seem pleased in the seventh when Pena attempted to bunt for a base hit against the shift, a move he successfully pulled off in the fifth. Mathis was on the ball this time to throw him out ... Davis was hit by J.P. Howell in the eighth. “He hit me right on the backside, I don’t know if it was intentional or not,” said Davis. “I didn’t understand it” ... In the bottom of the eighth, Casey Janssen hit Matt Joyce with two out ... In the ninth, Wade Davis threw his first pitch up and in on Encarnacion. “It was close, pretty close,” said Encarnacion.
ANOTHER LOSS FOR ALVAREZ
Alvarez saw his his record fall to 7-9 and his earned-run average climb to 4.58. He allowed six runs -- four earned -- on 11 hits and three walks ... “When you get a run on a couple of hits like we have in the last few games it puts a lot of pressure on the guy on the mound,” Farrell said. “Henderson missed with location in the zone a number of times and contributed with the walks.”
Norma Stenhouse, 81, mother of Jays P.R. director Jay Stenhouse, passed away Wednesday. Deepest sympathies are extended from the Toronto Sun spots department to all of the Stenhouse family.