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Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Jo-Jo Reyes pitchers against the Cleveland Indians during second inning AL action in Toronto on Monday, May 30, 2011. (Nathan Denette/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Jo-Jo Reyes pitchers against the Cleveland Indians during second inning AL action in Toronto on Monday, May 30, 2011. (Nathan Denette/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Jeff Blair

Blue Jays ensure Reyes's bizarre 'streak' comes to end Add to ...

Thank goodness, we can Nix that so-called streak, eh? Because a lot of us were getting tired of the manner in which the quirky set of circumstances surrounding journeyman pitcher Jo-Jo Reyes had somehow taken on the context of a "streak," like something Joe DiMaggio or Babe Ruth or Carl Hubbell or Don Drysdale would have done.

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And surely you were, too, right John Farrell?

"Really, there's so many different ways you could have looked at it - but, clearly, it was 28 and counting," said the Toronto Blue Jays manager.

It is understandable that people would be intrigued by the fact that it was almost four years between wins for Reyes, until he tossed a complete game in Monday night's 11-1 shellacking of the Cleveland Indians. Sports fans are like anybody else: they like stuff put in a box and wrapped up in a bow as often as possible, and even those enlightened types who understood long ago how misleading the notion of pitching 'wins' really is - can there be another pitching statistic over which the pitcher often has the least amount of control than wins? - were intrigued by poor Reyes.

But, c'mon. A "streak?" A "record?" Really? Reyes had tied the Major League record for starts without a win - 28 - until Jayson Nix's two-run home run in the second inning served as a warning shot for a whirlwind seven-run fourth. But that record screams for context. "Jo-Jo Reyes is no Major League pitcher!" you have often screamed this season. True: most of the time during this so-called "streak," he was a minor league pitcher.

Reyes had, in fact, won eight times during that winless start streak. In the minor leagues, true, but that is exactly why Reyes' "record" - the quotations are there for a reason - is not all that a lot of people are making it out to be. Fact is, between winning in the Majors on June 13, 2008, and winning Monday night, Reyes had started more games in the minor leagues (38) and appeared in more games in the minors (43) than he has in the Majors. Reyes streak includes full seasons - 2009 and 2010 - in which he made a grand total of seven Major League appearances, just one of them a start.

You want a streak? Matt Keogh of the Oakland Athletics, who held the record along with Reyes going into the game, suffered his 28-game drought in less than a calendar year when he was a regular.

Still, you're right: you'd think he'd be able to vulture one inning in relief. Or something. "It was in the back of my mind," Reyes said later, wiping shaving cream and beer and Gatorade off his face, "but I kept it as far away from the field as I could."

Reyes used his cutter - something he'd worked on during this dry spell - to induce three pitch-saving double-plays in beating the Indians, barely shrugging when Shelley Duncan took him into the fifth deck at the Rogers Centre in the fourth inning. When Reyes came back out for the ninth, he was greeted warmly by the crowd of 12,902, many of whom stood for him when he sauntered into the Blue Jays dugout in each inning from the fifth on. They stood for Reyes, too, screaming 'Jo-Jo … Jo-Jo … Jo-Jo," as Jack Hannahan struck out to end the game.

Reyes hadn't won until Monday night: but he did have six no-decisions, tied with the Texas Rangers Derek Holland for the American League lead and one back of the San Diego Padres Tim Stauffer for the Major League lead. Was he 0-28 during his winless run? No, actually, he was 0-13 - and the Blue Jays were 3-7 in his starts. Make that 3-8, because Jo-Jo Reyes finally won a game, and now he can go back to going wherever his career takes him - to journeyman, or beyond. "I think," Farrell said, "it started to become tangible for him in the fourth inning." And so it did: a conclusive end to a bizarre drought.

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