August 2008

Catching some Rays

TORONTO – Strolled into the Jays clubhouse this afternoon and a good chunk of the players were taking in the end of the Rays/Indians game. A day after Toronto enjoyed a walk-off win here, Tampa Bay did the ol’ anything you can do, we can do better.

Down 7-4 in the ninth, the Rays rallied for six runs with no outs to take the game. Eric Hinske doubled home a run. Gabe Gross homered. And Carlos Pena hit a three-run walk-off blast to center.

Alex Rios obviously left the room before the rally, because he came back in and looked stunned to see Pena being interviewed on camera after what was apparently a Rays win.

“What happened?” begged Rios, who was quickly brought up to date. “That’s unbelievable. Just unbelievable.”

Believe it: Tampa Bay, 68-45. Toronto, 11 games back.

As for your Jays, not much going on in the way of news. Mighty Joe Inglett is still out of the starting lineup, but at leats available off the bench after missing the last two games with a bum left knee.

Today’s lineups:

OAKLAND (53-59) at TORONTO (57-56)
at 7:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

ATHLETICS
Ryan Sweeney, RF
Kurt Suzuki, C
Frank Thomas, DH
Carlos Gonzalez, CF
Jack Cust, LF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Jack Hannahan, 3B
Bobby Crosby, SS
Daric Barton, 1B

PITCHING: LHP Gio Gonzalez (MLB debut)

BLUE JAYS
Marco Scutaro, 2B
David Eckstein, DH
Alex Rios, CF
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Rod Barajas, C
Adam Lind, LF
Scott Rolen, 3B
Kevin Mench, RF
John McDonald, SS

PITCHING: RHP Shaun Marcum (5-5, 3.57)

Mighty Joe out, Rolen in

TORONTO — Mighty Joe Inglett was still out of the starting lineup on Tuesday due to a wonky left knee, but he’s considered day-to-day. I’d be willing to bet that, with rookie lefty Gio Gonzalez due to start on Wednesday for the A’s, Inglett gets another day to rest.

Inglett shouldn’t be out long, basically, but Aaron Hill? That continues to be a different story. Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi said today that the club is getting closer to the point of potentially coming out and saying Hill is done for the year. He’d probably need a two-week Minor League rehab at this point, and Toronto is running out of time.

One interesting item that came out of the discussion with Ricciardi was in looking ahead to next season. Inglett will be around. Hill will be around. Ricciardi didn’t dismiss the notion that the Jays might discuss moving Hill back to shortstop for 2009: “I dont know. That might be something we have to look at, but that’s a long way off.”

Also, Scott Rolen was back in the starting lineup for the Jays after resting his ailing left shoulder for the past two games. Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said that, when he took over as manager in June, he could almost immediately tell that something wasn’t quite right with Rolen’s shoulder.

“Since I’ve been here, I could tell that there was something going on with him,” Gaston said. “Once in a while, the left hand comes off the bat and he’s holding on to it with the right hand. Usually, a right-hander, unless you’re hurting, the right hand comes off a lot. The left hand doesn’t come off. I’ve been seeing that since I’ve been here. So, it’s not like it’s something that just showed up lately.”

Today’s lineups:

OAKLAND (53-58) at TORONTO (56-56)
at 7:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

ATHLETICS
Ryan Sweeney, RF
Kurt Suzuki, C
Jack Cust, LF
Frank Thomas, DH
Carlos Gonzalez, CF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Jack Hannahan, 3B
Bobby Crosby, SS
Daric Barton, 1B

PITCHING: LHP Greg Smith (5-10, 4.04)

BLUE JAYS
Marco Scutaro, 2B
David Eckstein, DH
Alex Rios, CF
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Rod Barajas, C
Adam Lind, LF
Scott Rolen, 3B
Kevin Mench, RF
John McDonald, SS

PITCHING: RHP Scott Richmond (0-1, 5.06)

It's gotta be the shoes

TORONTO — Asked Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston about that “hit batter” episode from Sunday night’s game. Turns out that the explanation from homeplate ump Hunter Wendelstedt left Gaston scratching his head.

“A scuff mark on his shoe. I had never heard that one before,” said Gaston, still shaking his head in disbelief.

Replays of the fifth-inning pitch in question from Jays lefty David Purcey clearly showed the ball bounce in the dirt before “hitting” Rangers third baseman Travis Metcalf. The play proved large considering that, two batters later, Gerald Laird took Purcey deep to put Texas ahead for good.

Gaston said initially it was ruled that Metcalf wasn’t hit by the pitch, but when the third baseman returned to home plate, he showed the scuff mark on his shoe — supposedly created by the ball. That was enough for Wendelstedt, who then ruled that the batter was hit by the pitch.

On to today’s game…

Mighty Joe Inglett was a late scratch due to a sore left knee. Scott Rolen was out of the lineup again — a planned day off to rest his fatigued left shoulder. Gaston said he’d like to get to the point where he can play Rolen in 3-4 straight games with a day off after. With Inglett out and Scutaro at third, Eckstein started at second base again.

“With what’s going on with Rolen, maybe he’ll get some more playing time there,” Gaston said of Eckstein.

Prior to the game, center fielder Vernon Wells (injured left hamstring) took batting practice, ran the bases and even worked on some slides into second. Gaston said he hopes Wells can be ready to be activated — perhaps for DH duty at first — in time for Toronto’s coming road swing through Detroit and Boston.

Oh, and Frank Thomas is back in Toronto for the first time since being cut by the Jays.

Today’s lineups:

OAKLAND (53-57) at TORONTO (55-56)
at 6:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

ATHLETICS
Jack Hannahan, 3B
Kurt Suzuki, C
Jack Cust, LF
Frank Thomas, DH
Carlos Gonzalex, CF
Emil Brown, RF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Bobby Crosby, SS
Daric Barton, 1B

PITCHING: RHP Sean Gallagher (1-0, 3.22)

BLUE JAYS
Marco Scutaro, 3B
David Eckstein, 2B
Alex Rios, CF
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Rod Barajas, C
Adam Lind, LF
Matt Stairs, DH
Brad Wilkerson, RF
John McDonald, SS

PITCHING: RHP Roy Halladay (12-8, 2.85)

QUOTABLE: “This is what I dreamed of as a child — plain and simple. You grow up wanting to be a Major League Baseball player. The Olympics is, obviously, the top athletes in the world — an amazing venue. It’s just kind of bad timing.” –Jays starter Scott Richmond, on the “controversy” of being promoted to Toronto just before he was due to fly to Beijing with Team Canada

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