He raised eyebrows.
Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon, putting perspective on Toronto’s comeback win from a seven-run deficit on Monday, identified the Blue Jays hero on Tuesday, prior to Game 2.
Mark Buehrle gave up seven runs in the third inning, four on a grand slam by Evan Longoria, and otherwise pitched five scoreless innings. Darren Oliver (1-1) and Casey Janssen (save No. 8) each pitched a scoreless inning, and the Jays bench erupted as J.P. Arencibia put the game away with a two-run homer off Tampa closer Fernando Rodney with two out in the ninth inning, for an 8-7 win.
The Jays have come back from a larger deficit only once in their history, from 10 runs down in Boston on June 4, 1989, for a 13-11 win in 11 innings.
“I want to give credit to their pitcher,” Maddon said, before Tuesday night’s game. “There’s not many pitchers who get beat up that quickly who pitch that deep into the game with the kind of composure he demonstrated last night. That was a true pro pitching for them last night, and that’s why they won the game. They won the game because of Mark Buehrle, no other reason. It could have been 8-, 9– 10-nothing and that it really would have been over. He settled down, kept them in the game, then they came back.”
In the sixth inning, a couple of fateful transactions took place. Yunel Escobar entered the game as a defensive replacement for Tampa Bay at shortstop – the consequence of that move would show up two innings later – and Mark DeRosa was inserted as a pinch hitter for Munenori Kawasaki.
DeRosa hit an 0-2 pitch from reliever Jake McGee over the fence in the right-field corner, narrowing the margin to 7-5.
“I would like to find out the last time DeRosa hit one down the right-field line,” Maddon asked.
Globe and Mail reporter dutifully asks DeRosa.
“2005,” DeRosa said. “Against Juan Cruz [of the Oakland A’s]. My first hit as a Texas Ranger.”
The Blue Jays traded Escobar to Miami in the big 12-player deal last November, and the Marlins flipped him to the Rays in a separate deal. Hit on the hand by a pitch Saturday in Colorado, Escobar had asked to start Monday’s game but Maddon held him back.
In the eighth, the Jays still trailed 7-5 and had two runners on base when Melky Cabrera hit a grounder up the middle, with one out. Escobar flubbed the play, trying to get the out at second base. He appeared to favour his hand by trying to catch the ball in the webbing rather than on the palm.
“Yunel, he makes that play 100 times out of 99, I promise you,” Maddon said. “It sucks but I’m not going to get upset with him. He works his butt off every day.”
With one out rather than two, Jose Bautista’s fly to right field went as a sacrifice fly, making the score 7-6, rather than being the final out of the inning.
Maddon tried to use Rodney for a five-out save, due to unavailability of other pitchers in the Rays bullpen.
“We were one strike away from being happy,” Maddon said.
Maddon said he gave Rodney and the starting pitcher, Jake Hellickson, a quick hug in the clubhouse Tuesday before they hit the field for batting practice “This game is really unforgiving,” Maddon said. “It’s difficult. You’ve got to be really tough to play it. You’ve got to be really tough mentally. They don’t need any wishy washy stuff from the manager’s office.”
He wanted to gage his club’s reaction, the day after.
“I’ll find it interesting today to see how we respond to that game last night,” Maddon said. “I expect us to come back and play our game, I’m not saying winning, but show up, give us a chance of wining. Let’s see what happens.”
Notes: The Blue Jays trotted out four disabled pitchers for updates with the media. Right-hander Sergio Santos (triceps strain) is scheduled to pitch in extended spring training Thursday and Saturday and if all goes well, for Class A Dunedin next week. Said Santos: “I don’t want to waste any more time so we’re going to push it. If I come back, I want to be 100 per cent.” ... Drew Hutchins (elbow) is up to 75 pitches in the bullpen and is targeting September for a return. ... Dustin McGowan (shoulder), converting to relief, has taken up the heavy-ball exercise program followed by Steve Delabar and Brett Cecil and said he felt no soreness after the last two sessions. He hopes to start a rehab assignment for Dunedin next week. ... Kyle Drabek (second Tommy John elbow surgery) hopes to throw batting practice next week and is targeting June for rehab games.