Omar Vizquel is 45 years old and has been in the major leagues for 24 years.
But the Toronto Blue Jays’ infielder can’t remember consecutive games that ended with a runner being thrown out at the plate.
The Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Blue Jays 5-4 Saturday when Vizquel was thrown out at home by centre fielder B.J. Upton after a single by Colby Rasmus.
“Never, I’m trying to remember a series where two teams go back-to-back and they ended up on a play like that,” said Vizquel who started the game at third base. “You never what will happen, This game is so crazy.”
The Blue Jays won 2-1 on Friday night when rookie right-fielder Moises Sierra threw out pinch-runner Elliot Johnson at home. Blue Jays catcher Jeff Mathis blocked the plate for the out.
This time it was former Blue Jay Jose Molina, having just entered the game in the top of the ninth to replace starting catcher Jose Lobaton, who blocked off Vizquel to clinch the win.
“I wanted to score,” Vizquel said. “As soon as I saw the hit I started running as fast as I can and turned at third base. I knew the ball was hit hard and I never slowed down or anything and just took the wrong way to go.
“I wanted to go around (Molina) and that was the way he went ... he fell on me and I couldn’t really do anything after that.”
Blue Jays manager John Farrell didn’t use a pinch-runner for Vizquel even though regular shortstop Yunel Escobar was on the available on the bench because the start has been given to Adeiny Hechavarria.
“We didn’t have anybody with any more speed than (Vizquel)”, said Farrell, adding that Upton has one of the strongest arms in the league.
“I knew I wasn’t going to catch it so I just played it off the hop ... and just let it go,” Upton said. “I was hoping it wasn’t too high for [Molina]. Luckily it wasn’t.”
The Rays had built the early lead with a four-run third inning against Henderson Alvarez (7-12) that included a solo home run by Ryan Roberts, a run-scoring double by Ben Zobrist and a two-run double by Matt Joyce.
Edwin Encarnacion cut the lead in half with his 36th homer of the season, a mammoth two-run shot to left-centre in the fourth against left-handed reliever J.P. Howell. Howeel had only just entered the game, when starter Jeff Niemann left after 3 1/3 innings with tightness in his arm.
It was Niemann’s first start since coming off the disabled list after a line drive by Adam Lind on May 14 at Rogers Centre fractured his right fibula.
The runs against Howell were the first against him in 27 1/3 innings, a Rays’ club record.
Joyce hit his 15th homer in the top of the eighth against Brad Lincoln and the Blue Jays rallied in the bottom of the eighth with two-run single by Lind against Joel Peralta. But Fernando Rodney worked out of the eighth and pitched the ninth to earn his 40th save. Reliever Wade Davis (2-0) picked up the win.
Vizquel opened the Blue Jays ninth with a walk and Hechavarria sacrificed him to second. Rajai Davis hit a fly out to centre for the second out and Rasmus who was in a 0-for-14 hitless funk lined a single to centre.
“I knew I hit it hard so that’s a tough one,” Rasmus said. “I hit it on the nose and he came up and made a good throw. He put it in the air all the way there. Give him credit he made a good throw and Molina blocked the plate.”
The Blue Jays were guilty of a mental mistake in the fifth inning after Wade Davis issued two-out walks to Rajai Davis and Rasmus.
With Encarnacion at the plate, Davis took off for third against the manager’s wishes and Rasmus followed on the double-steal attempt. Rasmus was thrown out at second. Farrell said he had given the stop sign to Davis who stole second before Rasmus walked.
“Usually when the guy steals in front of you, you steal behind him,” Rasmus said. “They made a good play. I saw him go so I just took off. I didn’t get the best jump and he threw me out.”
Notes: Attendance at Rogers Centre was 20,478. ... Ecobar, who was 0-for-3 in Friday’s 2-1 win over the Rays to end an eight-game hitting streak, didn’t play Saturday. ...The stolen base by Davis in the fifth inning was his 40th of the season. ...Ricky Romero (8-12, 5.50 earned-run average) and David Price (16-5, 2.53 ERA) meet in Sunday’s series finale in a matchup of left-handers.