Carlos Villanueva won't get to say good-bye; Blue Jays topple Twins in 10th inning

Blue Jays manager John Farrell argues a call with home plate umpire Marvin Hudson during a game...

Blue Jays manager John Farrell argues a call with home plate umpire Marvin Hudson during a game against the Twins at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ont., Oct. 1, 2012. (MIKE CASSESE/Reuters)

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:54 AM ET

TORONTO - The long grind is over for Carlos Villanueva, his season coming to an end one day sooner than expected.

The Toronto Blue Jays right-hander was supposed to make his 17th and final start of the season Tuesday against the Minnesota Twins, but due to arm fatigue as much as anything he was scratched and will be replaced by Chad Jenkins.

The game would have offered Villanueva the chance to wave good-bye.

Monday, it was Aaron Laffey’s final start of 2012 and the Jays lefty ended with a no-decision in a game the Jays would beat the Twins 6-5 in the 10th inning.

Anthony Gose drove in the winning run with a single past second base, two outs after manager Jays John Farell was ejected.

Laffey allowed four runs (three earned) on eight hits over five innings. It was a good game for Adam Lind, though, who went 4-for-4 with two runs batted in.

With two outs and Toronto trailing 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth, Yan Gomes, who took over for Lind in the eighth, socked a solo home run to tie the game 5-5 and send it into extras.

Villanueva, meanwhile, is a free agent at the conclusion of the season and is hoping to be signed as a bonafide starter, a permanent part of a rotation. The prospect of that team being the Jays is an unlikely one.

The Jays are looking to beef up their rotation in the off-season and Villanueva, who has bounced back and forth between being a long reliever and spot starter throughout his career, doesn’t fit their bill.

This season, Villanueva opened in the bullpen and made 22 appearances. When the injuries began to pile up against Toronto’s starters, he moved into the rotation on June 29 and stayed there for the rest of the campaign.

Overall, Villanueva finished 7-7 with a 4.16 earned-run average, but in his last two starts he looked as if he had run out of gas and was pitching on fumes.

Sept. 21 against the Tampa Bay Rays, he lasted 2 1/3 innings in which time he allowed seven earned runs on seven hits, including two home runs. He followed that start up Sept. 26 with one just as ineffective against the Baltimore Orioles where he allowed seven earned runs over 4 2/3 innings. He gave up seven hits that game, including four home runs.

“That day in Tampa, I just had nothing, threw meatballs out there,” Villanueva said. “In Baltimore, the way I see it, I had good stuff that day. I thought I had a live fastball and my breaking balls were good. I was one pitch away from not having to answer any questions like this. It doesn’t always come out the way you script it. They are a hot team and there is a reason they made the playoffs and hopefully this team can be there next year.

“It’s disappointing because you don’t want to finish that way but in hindsight I look at the body of work of the whole season. I’m proud of what I was able to accomplish and I’m very fortunate for the opportunity and support everyone provided — the fans, the organization, you guys. I’m satisfied.”

Still, it wasn’t quite the way he wanted want to end his season in his on-going audition to attract suitors as a starter. He’s grateful, however, for the opportunity the Jays gave him.

“I had an opportunity in the middle of the season and I feel like I took advantage of it,” the Dominican Republic native said. “Hopefully I will get a chance to start (next season).

“I have trust in my agent that he is going to do a good job with the situation. For me, I worry about the part that I can control which is going out here and prepare myself and do the best I can.”

Although Villanueva won’t get the opportunity to tip his cap to the fans coming off the mound, he was part of the group of players who went out of the dugout and saluted the Jays faithful during Sunday’s game against the Yankees. He remained on the field in front of the dugout longer than the others.

“The fans here, I want to reiterate, they came out this year, better than last year,” Villanueva said. “I think about it, it might be one of my last times I go here and give thanks to the fans. The last couple days, whoever wants my autograph, even though they might not know who I am some of them, to just give it out and show some type of appreciation.

“We play this game for the fans and I think a lot of us forget that some time because it’s a long and grinding season. But the fact that they still came out even though we didn’t have a very good season shows a lot and shows what they were expecting out of us. I hope they continue to show that support because I think this team is heading in the right direction.”

Villanueva is a class act and a solid contributor.

He will be a valued addition, both on the field and in the clubhouse, to whichever team he signs with.


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