(Originally posted on The Press Box)
Well, despite all their injuries, the Toronto Blue Jays swept the Phillies in Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon.
This time, it was thanks to ex-Phil Rod Barajas, whose pinch-hit homer leading off the ninth gave Toronto an 8-7 win.
Brad Mills, making his ML debut, lasted only 3 2/3 innings, giving up four runs. Cito Gaston was forced to use seven relievers in this one.
Despite blowing the save in the eighth inning, Jason Frasor got the win (now 5-0) by getting the final out before Barajas' heroics.
B.J. Ryan got one out in the ninth before Jeremy Accardo retired the final two Phillies for his first save.
Accardo was called up from Triple-A Las Vegas to take the spot of closer Scott Down (DL). Mills, a lefty who was 1-8 with a 4.48 ERA in Triple-A, was called up to take Casey Janssen's spot.
Amazingly, the NL East-leading Phillies are only 2-10-1 in home series this year (with both series wins against the awful Nationals) and are 13-19 at Citizens Bank Park. On the other hand, they are an ML-best 23-9 on the road.
Speaking of the lowly Nats, they stunned the Yankees again at new Yankee Stadium, winning 3-0.
Someone named Craig Stammen (0-2, 5.86 in 5 career starts--all this year) pitched 6 1/3 shutout innings for Washington for his first ML win--at the Yankees' expense.
New York (37-29) has lost six of nine.
With the Yankees' loss, the Blue Jays (37-31) and idle Angels (35-29 and who have won six in a row) are 1 game back in the Wild Card standings. Tampa Bay, which has now lost two straight following a six-game winning streak, is now three back.
The Jays are in third place in the East standings, four back of the Red Sox.
For now, Toronto remains in the race, but for how much longer?
With ace Roy Halladay (10-1, 2.53) on the DL, and with Mills being the FOURTH starting pitcher this season to make his ML debut for the Jays, the team is in big trouble.
Their top five projected starters--Halladay, Janssen, Shaun Marcum, Dustin McGowan, and Jesse Litsch--are all on the DL.
The ironic part about all this?
A.J. Burnett, the guy that was supposedly the brittle one, is healthy and injury-free! Burnett, who was part of the Jays' 2008 rotation, isn't doing that well in the Bronx in '09, but at least he's managed to stay off the DL. For now anyways.
The Jays now start a three-game series in Washington against the hapless Nationals (an MLB-worst 18-46), a team that just took two of three in New York against the Yanks. (They could have won all three, if not for a blown lead in the late innings in the first game.)
If the Jays don't sweep this weekend series, you can call them officially dead. You've simply got to win games you're supposed to win, if you want to stay in the race.