Game 69: Toronto at Washington pregame

cito.jpgAnyone wondering why Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston didn’t utilize the double switch in the eighth inning of Thursday’s win over the Phillies will be relieved to know there is a simple explanation.

“As soon as I got out there, I realized I screwed it up,” Gaston admitted on Friday.

The situation was this:

The Jays were clinging to a 7-6 lead and Gaston headed to the mound with two outs and a runner on second base to remove pitcher Brandon League. Due to lead off the top of the ninth was the pitcher’s spot for the Jays. The eighth spot of the order was occupied by catcher Raul Chavez and catcher Rod Barajas and infielder John McDonald were left on the bench.

Remaining in the bullpen were Jason Frasor, a struggling B.J. Ryan and a jet-lagged Jeremy Accardo. Gaston was turning to Frasor to face Shane Victorino, and using the double switch would have put the Jays reliever in the 8th hitting hole and brought Barajas in behind the plate and also set to lead off the ninth.

Where Gaston messed up was in walking straight to the mound and not consulting with the home-plate umpire.

“I thought about it,” Gaston said, “and then after I went to the mound, then you couldn’t do it. You have to approach the umpire first before you do that and I went to the mound. If I had the intentions of doing it, I screwed it up — you couldn’t do it.”

In the end, everything turned out OK. Frasor allowed a single to tie the game, but Chavez threw out Shane Victorino on a stolen base attempt and Barajas — used as a pinch-hitter in the ninth — belted a solo home run to send Toronto to a 8-7 win. Despite his error, Gaston came away smelling like roses.

“[Chavez] threw out a big runner and the other catcher came up and hit a home run, so it all turned out OK,” Gaston said. “I think, if you had to do it again, you’d probably do it a little different, just to save another pitcher.”

It was apparent that Gaston realized his mistake when he got to the mound. Once there, he turned back to the dugout and made a hand motion toward the dugout, pounding his fist in an open hand — signaling for the catcher. Someone in the dugout alerted him that the double switch had to be called off, though.

Managing primarily American League games is one reason the procedure slipped Gaston’s mind for a brief moment. It could have been a costly mistake and it’s just one more reason the manager believes the DH should be a part of Interleague Play.

“Once again,” Gaston said, “it’s nice to come to Washington here and see this ballpark and play, and I still don’t mind doing the Interleague Play, I just think they should use the DH and be done with it. I’ve got my closer on the DL because he went up to hit the other night. That’s one thing that I look at that I think is unfair.”

OTHER ITEMS: Ace Roy Halladay (strained right groin) and closer Scott Downs (sprained left toe) both played catch on flat ground at Nationals Park this afternoon. No news there except that they threw. As for Downs, Gaston said: “I’ve just kind of put Downs out of my mind right now.” Asked if it was because the injuries are too excruciating to think about, Gaston chuckled and replied, “That’s it.” … Gaston was asked by a local writer about his thoughts on the Jays/Expos “rivalry” back in the day. Cito said, “To be honest with you, [it wasn’t a rivalry] between the players or the teams. No, it was just something we had to do. The biggest rivalry we had back in that time was Detroit. So, it wasn’t a big rivalry. Maybe for the citizens — the fans — it might’ve been a rivalry, but I didn’t feel that way.” … Remember that heads-up stolen base Marco Scutaro had in the third inning on Thursday night in Philly? The Baseball Tonight crew on ESPN suggested that it was the result of Toronto having scouting reports that noted that infielders Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley put their heads down during a walk. Today, asked bench coach Brian Butterfield, who also serves as a baserunning instructor and was the brain behind Aaron Hill’s steal of home against Yankees lefty Andy Pettitte two years ago. Butter began to shake his head and said, “No, that was all Marco Scutaro. He’s had heads-up running plays all year long. To me, he’s the most underrated player in baseball right now.”

Today’s lineups:

Thumbnail image for BlueJays.jpgTORONTO BLUE JAYS (37-31)
Third place AL East, 4.0 GB

1. Marco Scutaro, SS
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Vernon Wells, CF
4. Scott Rolen, 3B
5. Adam Lind, LF
6. Alex Rios, RF
7. Lyle Overbay, 1B
8. Rod Barajas, C
9. Brian Tallet, P

Starter: LHP Tallet (4-4, 4.87)

nationals.jpgWASHINGTON NATIONALS (18-46)
Fifth place NL East, 18.0 GB

1. Christian Guzman, SS
2. Nick Johnson, 1B
3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
4. Adam Dunn, LF
5. Elijah Dukes, RF
6. Josh Bard, C
7. Willie Harris, CF
8. Anderson Hernandez, 2B
9. Jordan Zimmerman, P

Starter: RHP Zimmerman (2-3, 5.37)

Don’t forget, you can follow me on Twitter: @MLBastian


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