Ray, Jays Win, Beat White Sox 2-1
Rookie Robert Ray pitched a heck of a game for the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon.
But after eight innings, he was behind, 1-0, to the visiting Chicago White Sox.
The Blue Jays had outhit the White Sox 8-3, but hadn't been able to cross the plate against starter Bartolo Colon and a pair of relievers.
The Jays' best chance came in the seventh inning, when they had two on and two out for Aaron Hill. The second baseman, however, struck out swinging on a low 3-2 pitch to end the inning and finish off an 0-for-4 day.
But the Jays rewarded Ray for his fine pitching in the eighth.
Vernon Wells singled and stole second, before Adam Lind was somehow able to hit a low pitch from Scott Linebrink, the White Sox's fourth pitcher of the day, into right field for a game-tying double.
Linebrink then bounced the next pitch, which got away from catcher A.J. Pierzynski, sending Lind to third.
Jose Bautista promptly hit the next Linebrink offering to left field, scoring Lind and giving Toronto the lead.
Scott Downs retired the White Sox 1-2-3 in the ninth inning for his fourth save in four chances.
Though B.J. Ryan has returned from his stint on the DL, the Jays have announced Downs will be the closer for now.
For Ray, who was making his third career start, it was his first victory in the majors.
Ray gave up just one unearned run in eight innings, striking out three and walking one. He gave up only three hits.
The lone walk Ray surrendered was to the very first batter of the game, and Chicago capitalized.
Scott Podsednik walked to lead off the ballgame, went to second on a groundout, stole third base, and came around to score on Jays catcher Raul Chavez's throwing error.
For seven innings, that lead held up for Chicago.
* * * * * *
On Friday night, the Blue Jays had beaten the White Sox 8-3 in the opener of their four-game series, but surely it wasn't a great night.
Sure, the Boston Red Sox lost in Seattle, blowing a 4-0 lead. As I'd said earlier, enough of Jon Lester being a hero coming back from cancer, throwing a no-no and pitching in the 2007 World Series-clinching game.
Lester plain sucks. Staked to a 4-0 lead, he allowed a run in the fifth and four in the sixth. Boston lost 5-4.
And oh, he allowed Ichiro Suzuki to hit two home runs. Ichiro's homer in the fifth put the Mariners on the scoreboard, and his two-run bomb turned a 4-3 deficit to a 5-4 lead.
Meanwhile, Boston DH David Ortiz was benched. Ortiz was out of the lineup after his embarrassing showing in Anaheim the day before, going 0-for-7 with 12 runners left on base in their extra-inning loss.
12 men left on base! That tied a Red Sox record.
Ortiz still doesn't have a home run this season.
OK, that was the good news for Toronto.
The bad news?
The other two East rivals won. Worse, they rallied big time to get the job done.
Now, it's only May, but all games count. If you think Toronto will have to battle with Tampa Bay and the Yankees for the wild card (assuming the Red Sox will eventually take over the AL East lead), you'll want the Rays and Yanks to lose as much as possible. And nobody thinks the Wild Card will come out of the Central or West.
In Tampa, the Cleveland Indians led 7-0. The Rays, however, scored in each of the final four innings, and won it 8-7 on B.J. Upton's walk-off homerun.
When will these Indians learn you can't just build a big lead and then sit on it? The day before, the Tribe jumped out to a 9-0 lead before hanging on to beat the Rays 11-7.
Meanwhile, at new Yankee Stadium, the Minnesota Twins jumped out to a 4-1 lead with 9 outs to go, before the home team rallied.
Twins closer Joe Nathan allowed a run in the ninth before getting two outs. But the Yankees loaded the bases, and Melky Cabrera's single ended gave the Yankees a 5-4 win.
Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez, in his first game at the new ballpark, went 0-for-1 with four walks.
Would have been good to see both Tampa and New York lose, since they were both on the ropes. But oh well, you could say the same about Boston since the Red Sox had the big lead.
Speaking of A-Rod, he sure made a big splash when he returned from the DL last week, homering on the first pitch against the Orioles.
However, through the first eight innings of Saturday's tilt with the Twins (still in progress), A-Rod has been struggling.
Rodriguez has gone 0-for-3 so far in the game, and is hitting .120.
And it's not even October yet.
Who knows, as soon as I say this, he'll probably go on a tear.
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