September 3, 2012
Saunders guides Orioles past Blue Jays
By BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Five days after Hurricane Isaac hit shore, Toronto Blue Jays reliever Aaron Loup’s family are still without power in Raceland, La.
That would make Loup’s hometown a lot like the Jays lineup.
Baltimore Orioles lefty Joe Saunders, acquired by the club last week for the stretch run, moth-balled the Jays lineup in a 4-0 win before 17,220 fans at the Rogers Centre on Monday. With the win, Baltimore moved to within one game of the first-place New York Yankees.
Saunders entered the game lugging a 10.13 earned-run average as an Oriole after one start. Monday, he didn’t allow a runner on base until Adeiny Hechavarria’s two-out single in the sixth inning. Saunders went 17 up, 17 down.
Overall, Saunders and three O’s relievers held the Jays to three singles. On Aug. 29, Saunders allowed seven runs -- six earned -- giving up 10 hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings in his Baltimore debut against the Chicago White Sox.
Jays manager John Farrell described O’s set-up man Pedro Strop and closer Jim Johnson as maybe the best 1-2 bullpen punch in the game. They combined to set down six Jays in order, with three strikeouts, in the eigth and ninth innings.
HAPPY LABOUR DAY
Rogers Centre employee ‘Elevator Joe’ Joseph Bednarz was found Monday morn in the break room behind section 236 eating a sandwich and watching a Sportsnet documentary entitled Diamonds in the Rough. It was Labour Day and Joe was at work. “Why not?” he asked ... Joe worked the assembly line and drove a lift truck for 33 years at the Ford plant in Oakville, Ont., until retiring. His friend Frank Tilley called one day and asked him what he was going to do with his time. “Nothing, that’s what,” recalled Joe. Tilley talked him into working at the SkyDome. This is his 20th season ... “I don’t really have a favorite player, but I liked Roy Halladay and Jose Bautista,” Joe said. “I tell Bautista ‘you guys can do better than this.’ Jose will say ‘Joe the more you try, the more difficult it can be.’ Some players tease me, I give it back.” ... Joe, who lost his wife Rose three years ago, turns 86 on Sept. 15. Happy Labour Day to a hard-working man.
WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC I
Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar is looking forward the World Baseball Classic next spring. We asked coach Luis Rivera for help translate Escobar’s answers. How did he think Cuba would do if players from his island and Cuban-Americans were allowed to form the one team? “It’s hard to know that, but it would be a good team,” said Escobar. Growing up in Havana, Escobar’s favorite player was outfielder Alex Hernandez because he “had fun and was always involved.” ... Escobar fled Cuba by boat and travelled internationally with Cuba to competitions in Mexico, Panama, Venezuela, China and Edmonton. He had a visitor in the Jays clubhouse last year: Tony Castro, son of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro ... “He says he’s not friends with any of the Castro family,” Rivera translated. “He knew Dr. Tony Castro because he was the team doctor for the Cuban team, he was in town and asked if he could say hello. That was all.” ... Final question for Rivera, who's from Cidra, Puerto Rico, how many runs would Cuba beat Puerto Rico by? After Rivera stopped laughing he translated the question: “Twelve,” said Escobar.
WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC II
Jays lefty Ricky Romero says he has been contacted to pitch for Mexico in the WBC. Mexico will likely be assigned to a pool based in Phoenix playing games at Salt River Fields, spring home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Chase Field. “Adrien Gonzalez called and asked,” said Romero of the Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman. “Both my parents are from Mexico so it would be the right thing to do for my parents, they’d get a kick out of it.”
Jays right fielder Moises Sierra, looking like he playing on ice, overran a ball off the bat of Manny Machado in the second Monday. Sierra slipped and the ball fell for a three-base error. One pitch later it was 1-0 on Nate McLouth’s successful squeeze ... O’s second baseman Robert Andino singled leading off the fifth and came around to score when the left-handed hitting Nick Markakis volleyed a lob inside the left-field line for a run-scoring double. J.J. Hardy followed with a double ... Happ struck out Matt Wieters, Mark Reynolds and Machado in order. Jays starter J.A. Happ pitched one batter into the sixth, leaving after 95 pitches, allowing two earned runs and fanning nine. He has 46 strikeouts in 40 1/3 innings since being obtained from the Houston Astros.
Singles by Jays Adam Lind and Kelly Johnson with one out in the seventh loaded the bases against Saunders, at which point O’s manager Buck Showalter went to reliever Luis Ayala. Ayala fell behind the next batter, Sierra, 3-0. Sierra thought the next pitch was ball four and started to walk toward first base, but plate ump Lance Barrett called the pitch a strike. Ayala rallied to whiff Sierra and Jeff Mathis then popped up to centre ... Mathis picked Machado off first in the fourth ... Jays relievers Brad Lincoln and Steve Delabar each had scoreless outings.