TORONTO - Carlos Villanueva is currently working two jobs.
The right-hander is attempting to both win games for the Toronto Blue Jays and at the same time prove to his current team and the 29 others that he is a bona fide big-league starter, a player that in his free agent season is worth a multi-year contract as a member of a rotation.
Nothing wrong with that.
“He’s been very consistent,” manager John Farrell said of Villanueva. “The days he starts for us, he’s dependable. We know what we’re going to get from Carlos and that’s typically four pitches for strikes and keeping the game in control and he did it again today.”
On Saturday, Villanueva recorded another ‘very good job’ against the Boston Red Sox. No win, though, as Villanueva was taken out after walking the leadoff hitter to open the eighth — the first time he’s pitched into the eighth this season. He ended up with a no-decision in a game the Jays would go on to lose 3-2.
Tied 2-2, the Red Sox would score the winning run in the ninth with two out against Steve Delabar on a RBI double by Pedro Ciriaco.
Villanueva, meanwhile, allowed two runs on four hits, walked two and struck out six.
He has not had a lot of luck of late despite pitching well. In his past nine starts he is now 1-5 with three no-decisions. In 14 starts he has recorded nine quality starts and has allowed three runs or less in 11 of them.
This time out Villanueva may have been motivated by comments made Tuesday by Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos when he said that his pitcher still had something to prove as far as being able to make 30 starts in a season.
“That has nothing to do with what I do out there,” he said. “My job is to go out there and help this team win.
“Alex and I have a really good relationship. We’ve talked a little bit and we’re on the same page. I know he wants me to do well because he wants to win and that’s what’s important to me.”
Each time out, though, his starts have become an audition for future suitors if not the Blue Jays.
“Like I said before, I feel like I have nothing to prove,” he said. “If I am auditioning, I really don’t care because I think I’ve proven in my mind what I can do. I’m sure somebody else out there will take a chance on me.
“For me I’ve pitched like this my whole career. Ever since I’ve been in rookie ball I’ve had to prove myself. I happen to be a free agent and obviously I’m happy I’m putting myself in a good position up here.”
BASE RUNNING BUG
The day after Brett Lawrie was guilty of being over-aggressive on the base paths, third base coach Brian Butterfield caught the disease.
Butterfield is a terrific third-base coach but when the bug goes around, it can nail anyone.
In the first inning with runners on second and third and two out, Yunel Escobar laced a single to right. Edwin Encarnacion, who was on third, scored easily.
Adam Lind, a slow runner, was at second.
Escobar’s liner took two hops to get to right fielder Cody Ross and to the amazement of all, Butterfield waved the lumbering Lind home.
Ross’ throw was right on target and Boston catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia found himself with the ball with Lind about 25 feet from the plate. Tag, out, end of the inning.
NAVA STRIKES AGAIN
Left fielder Daniel Nava has become a royal pain for the Jays.
In Friday’s game, Nava drove in two runs and also made a game-saving catch with the game tied in the eighth when he prevented the Jays from scoring the go-ahead run with a diving catch in the gap in left-centre.
He followed that up Saturday with another fine running catch in the second inning. With two out and the Jays having runners on the corners, Rajai Davis ripped a ball to the wall in left. Nava, though, tracked it all the way and made a leaping, up-against-the-wall grab for the third out.