Posted by: Peter Houston | April 9, 2010

Jays comeback in the 9th to win…again

In back to back games, the Jays have gone in to the top of the ninth trailing by a run. In back to back games, the Jays have gone in to the bottom of the ninth with a lead.

Today, it wasn’t Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay leading the 9th inning rally, it was an unusual suspect. After E5 got aboard with a walk to lead of the inning, good ol’ Travis Snider and the petrified look on his face stepped up into the batter’s box. It looked like he was either going to faint or wet himself. To make matters worse, the left handed Mike Gonzalez was on the mound. But low and behold, Snider promptly rips a double to right-centre field, cashing in the tying run. Johnny Mac steps up and shows Jose Molina that bunting isn’t rocket science, moving Snider over to third. Then Jose Bautista gets the job done by sending a sac fly to centre. 7-6 Jays.

Kevin Gregg came in and worked a perfect ninth for his first save of the year, striking out two. Now before you get your knickers in a twist over a potential closer controversy, it was made clear before the game that Frasor was unavailable because he’s pitched in every game this year.

There were plenty of other story lines to note in this one. Brandon Morrow made his first start as a Jay, and almost didn’t make it out of the first inning. After the Jays gave him a 3-0 lead in the top of the frame, he came in and walked 4 (!), hits Adam Jones with a pitch and allows 3 runs to cash. If it weren’t for a lucky ground ball that turned into an inning ending double play, I seriously doubt he would have finished the first. Shawn Camp aka Mr. Clean was already getting loose in the ‘pen.

Besides allowing a homer to Miguel Tejada, Morrow looked very sharp after the disastrous first inning. His final line was 5 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 5 BB, 5 K, 1 HBP. Enough fives in there? Think again. When he left the game, the score was 5-5.

In an eerily similar turn of events, a defensive laps almost cost the Jays the game in the bottom of the 8th. Instead of Jose Molina forgetting how to catch the ball, this time it was John McDonald who couldn’t quite put enough mustard on a relay throw to home plate. The ball short hopped John Buck, and squirted away from him before he could apply the tag on Felix Pie, who would have been out by 6 country miles. That put the Orioles up 6-5. But, just like yesterday, it obviously wasn’t a problem.

I have a couple quick thoughts I want to get out there before I wrap this up. One involves Cito making a good decision to NOT let Randy Ruiz pinch hit. Not something I thought I’d ever be praising Cito for, but in this case, it was a savvy move. When Snider was at the dish with no one out and the tying run on second in the ninth (E5 had advanced on a wild pitch), Randy Ruiz moseyed out to the on deck circle instead of Johnny Mac. It was actually the second time he stepped on to the field in the game, the first was when he went out to catch for Casey Janssen between innings because Buck didn’t have his gear on. Take anything you can get, right? Anyway, when Snider unexpectedly doubled in the tying run, Cito decided to send Johnny Mac back out instead of Ruiz. Why? So that J-Mac could use one of his only offensive skills – the bunt. He successfully moved Snider over to third, and then Bautista finished the job with a sac fly. The split second decision to go back to J-Mac, and not use Ruiz, arguably won the Jays the game.

This all was after Cito made a questionable decision to mix up the lineup. My eyes almost popped out of my head when I saw that he penciled in career .248 hitter Alex Gonzalez into the 2-hole. To Gonzalez’s credit, he’s been swinging the bat as well as anyone – OK, not V-Dub – and rewarded Cito by hitting a solo jack in the 3rd. We all know this is just an illusion, and hopefully Hill makes a speedy recovery from his hammy injury so he can reclaim what is rightfully is.

Well, that’s definitely enough for now. It’s Dana Eveland against David Hernandez tomorrow at 7 p.m. as the Jays try to take over sole possession of first place in the AL East. I’m not going to be able to say that very often, so might as well drop it while I can. Playoffs baby!

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