Blue Jays' Esmil Rogers wipes away Rangers

Blue Jays starting pitcher Esmil Rogers splashes water on his face after throwing against the...

Blue Jays starting pitcher Esmil Rogers splashes water on his face after throwing against the Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Tex., June 13, 2013. (TIM SHARP/Reuters)

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:00 AM ET

ARLINGTON, TEX. - It’s safe to say you can erase the spot behind Esmil Rogers’ name.

A spot starter he no longer will be, not after his start Thursday against the Texas Rangers.

Rogers not only held his own against Rangers ‘ace’ Yu Darvish but he took a giant step forward in solidifying a permanent spot in the Toronto Blue Jays rotation after a 3-1 victory.

It was the third impressive outing by Rogers since moving into a starting role this season.

Rogers, 2-2, went seven strong innings, allowing one run on seven hits to get the win.

Coupled with the 7 1/3 innings of work by Chien-Ming Wang in Tuesday’s game against the Chicago White Sox, Thursday’s game marked just the third time this season that Jays have had a starting pitcher go seven innings in consecutive starts.

“He was tremendous, he really was,” manager John Gibbons said of Rogers, who in the three starts (14 1/3 innings) has allowed just two earned runs. “You could kind of see that building as he was working up to the point where he is right now. Even in the other games where he was limited to what he could do (due to pitch counts) he pitched very good.

“I think he likes that role (starter). He looks like a starter out there and gives him some innings to work with, loosen up and throw some curveballs and changeups. He’s really taken to it.”

He came up with his best effort in a park where the Rangers are at their best as their 19-10 record at home entering the game would suggest.

“We didn’t know what to expect but he gave us a great outing — a tremendous job tonight,” Gibbons added

The Jays punched in the winning run in the eighth inning against relievers Neal Cotts and Tanner Scheppers thanks to a throwing error by third baseman Adrian Beltre.

Emilio Bonifacio opened the inning with a grounder up the third-base line that Beltre made a fine play on just to flag the ball down. But when he fired across the diamond toward first base his throw was way off line, pulling Lance Berkman off the bag to prevent the ball from going into right field.

The Jays then moved Bonifacio into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Munenori Kawasaki, bringing Melky Cabrera to the plate. After Cotts retired Cabrera on a grounder to second base, the Rangers went to Scheppers, a right-hander.

Scheppers ran the count full before walking Jose Bautista.

Edwin Encarnacion followed and jumped on the first pitch and lined a shot into the gap in left-centre field. Centre fielder Leonys Martin made a heroic effort to make a diving backhand catch but missed. The ball went to the wall and two runs crossed the plate.

It was the 200th career double of Encarnacion’s career. Both runs were unearned.

The double extended his hit streak to nine games and lifted his RBI total on the season to 55.

“A big hit,” Gibbons said. “And a big at-bat before that (by Bautista). Boni got it started and a nice sac bunt. Both teams played a very good game tonight.”

How hot was it deep in the heart of Texas?

During batting practice, the temperature reached triple digits Fahrenheit, cooling down to 97 (36 degrees Celsius) by game time.

No sweat. Not for Rogers

Last week at the Rogers Centre the right-hander allowed one run over four innings against the Rangers in what turned into a 6-1 Jays victory.

Now this.

“God gave me the opportunity,” Rogers said, which is a pretty reverential feeling about his manager. “I tried to do my best.”

His key to success this game was his sinking two-seam fastball that set up his four-seamer and off-speed curve. The combination kept the Rangers off balance throughout his seven innings.

“I tried to use my sinker more and throw inside and get a ground ball,” Rogers said. “I didn’t use my slider today because of the weather (hot and steamy which resulted in grip issues). I started to use my curveball and when they weren’t swinging and it was called a strike. When they started to swing (at it) I went back to my sinker.”

Textbook stuff.

Before the game, Gibbons was raving about Rogers’ bulldog mentality.

“One thing he’s done, even as a reliever, he competes, man,” he said. “He’s one of those guys you feel good when you bring him in because he gets after you. He doesn’t back down, he keeps coming at you.”

While Rogers was doing his thing, so too was Darvish.

Darvish has a never-ending assortment weapons from which to draw, but against the Jays he was throwing a high number of sliders in two-strike situations, getting them to chase breaking balls out of the zone.

Darvish didn’t get the decision either as he left after seven innings with the game tied 1-1. In that time, he allowed one run on three hits, walked two and struck out nine.

The night, though, belonged to Rogers.


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