Game 122: Los Angeles at Toronto

Downs.jpgOne thing that is not settled going into next season is the Blue Jays’ closer role. B.J. Ryan is gone — though his $10 million 2010 salary is still on the books — and the team is not 100 percent convinced Scott Downs will be the full-time replacement.

Asked if Downs would be defined as “the closer” going into next spring, this is what manager Cito Gaston had to say:

“Probably not. We’ll just wait and see. To say, ‘Who’s your closer?’ and to try to see which one does a better job in Spring Training is a little tough to do.”

By that last statement, Gaston meant that it’s difficult to simulate a ninth-inning situation in the spring, when most big leaguers have bailed long before the final frame. It stands to reason that Downs and Jason Frasor, who both are eligible to become free agents after 2010, will be the leading candidates for the role next year.

Downs has been great over the past few years as Toronto’s main setup man, but his performance as the closer this year — after Ryan was stripped of the role in April before being released on July — has been shaky. Part of the reason for Downs’ struggles, a main reason actually, is he has been dealing off and on with a left foot injury.

Gaston does not believe the injury, and the lack of save chances, have really given Downs an opportunity to show if he is the right person for the closer job.

“Downs did great as a setup man,” Gaston said. “But he hasn’t really had the opportunity to show us that [he should be the closer] one way or the other — not much. He’s had a couple of times out there that didn’t work out, but as far as really showing us that he’s the guy, he hasn’t had the opportunity because he’s been hurt.”

Downs, who is coming off a three-outing Minor League rehab stint with Class A Dunedin, was scheduled to rejoin the Jays on Sunday, according to Gaston. The manager said that Downs would “probably” be activated from the 15-day disabled list on Monday, but he might not move directly into the stopper role — currently held by Frasor.

“We’ll see how it goes,” Gaston said. “If he got here tomorrow and I said, ‘We’re going to stick him in the closer’s spot right away,’ I’m not sure if that’s fair to him, either. We’ll see who’s hitting. We’ll see what numbers we’ve got on guys and see if it’s a possibility for him to do that.”

Today’s lineups:

Thumbnail image for Angels.gifLOS ANGELES ANGELS (74-47)
First place AL West, — GB

1. Chone Figgins, 3B
2. Bobby Abreu, RF
3. Torii Hunter, CF
4. Vlad Guerrero, DH
5. Juan Rivera, LF
6. Mike Napoli, C
7. Kendry Morales, 1B
8. Howie Kendrick, 2B
9. Erick Aybar, SS

Starter: RHP Trevor Bell (1-0, 5.91)

Thumbnail image for BlueJays.jpgTORONTO BLUE JAYS (56-65)
Fourth place AL East, 20.0 GB

1. Marco Scutaro, SS
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Adam Lind, LF
4. Lyle Overbay, 1B
5. Vernon Wells, CF
6. Randy Ruiz, DH
7. Jose Bautista, 3B
8. Travis Snider, RF
9. Raul Chavez, C

Starter: LHP Ricky Romero (10-5, 3.95)

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


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  1. aaaincny

    I’m having trouble remembering the last time a Blue Jay made a team sorry they intentionally walked a batter. Certainly felt good to have Ruiz clear the bases. Haven’t been too many “feel good” moments from the 4-9 hitters this year.

  2. gsjays

    Our two call ups are doing well.

    Randy Ruiz (11 games): .310/.370/.548
    Travis Snider (6 games): .333/.455/.667

    Funny how close these numbers are to their AAA numbers:

    Randy Ruiz (114 games): .320/.392/.584
    Travis Snider (48 games): .337/.431/.663

  3. gsjays

    For ones who didn’t watch the game today, take a look at Ruiz’s double video which is posted on the front page. You will notice the pitch he hit down the right field line was a low inside pitch which almost jammed him.
    For ones that have never tried to hit a baseball, that is a damn difficult to do, and requires excellent bat control, something I never though Ruiz had because of how long his swing is.
    Ruiz put an inside out swing on it so clearly, his plan was to drive it to right field all along. Anyone want to hazard a guess as to how long it’s been since we had a power hitter with that level of bat control. Only Jay hitters I can ever remember was Paul Molitor and Robbie Alomar, but neither had Ruiz’s raw power.
    Now if we could get Randy to teach Wells how to do that, we’d be fine.

  4. goodluckdoc

    I didn’t watch the game today (didn’t know which channel it was on) but I took a look at gameday during 5 th or 6th inning
    and I was surprised that the pitcher threw fastballs to both Ruiz and Snider, both of which hit the ball hard.
    Both fastballs were in good location, for Snider it was down an away, located perfect at the corner, and Snider managed to hit that out of the park.
    I dont know how close it was but that is tremoundous power. This year I have only seen Adam Lind do that and maybe Hill did it once or twice.

    and with Ruiz, you gotta give it to him, to lay off of that pitch he hit for the double, because the only way to drive an inside pitch to right field is to wait a split second more for it and then hit the pitch when it is over the plate (usually you hit the pitch infront of the plate and so gotta give it to Ruiz to hold up on that pitch and drive it to the opposite side)

  5. goodluckdoc

    Eric Bruntlett also booted the two plays before that, which should have been made to end the game:P

    I am sure the coaches didn’t forget that.

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