Somewhere deep inside the private confines of the Toronto Blue Jays clubhouse, the uber competitor that is Roy Halladay must have been gnashing his teeth.
He won't admit it, but he must have.
Lifted from a game he had well in hand, the Blue Jays ace was reduced to the role of helpless witness to the train wreck that soon followed within Camden Yards yesterday afternoon.
And like all train wrecks, this one was downright ugly.
With Halladay sitting down after helping Toronto build an 8-3 lead, the Baltimore Orioles went on to abuse a normally reliable Jays bullpen for five runs in the eighth inning. And just to show it wasn't a fluke, the O's did it again in the 11th - scoring four times to erase a two-run Toronto lead and emerge with an improbable 12-10 victory.
Nolan Reimold was the hero for the Orioles, launching a three-run, walk-off home run off reliever Brian Wolfe (1-1) that just cleared the wall in left field.
"It's going to be part of the game from time to time," a sullen Halladay said later. "Unfortunately, the timing of it just isn't very good."
After looking like it was poised to snap a lengthy losing skid, Toronto ended up being swept by the Orioles to extend the Jays' misery to a season-high nine games.
"We're going through a tough spot. It happens. I was thinking of Frank Sinatra, 'Riding high in April, shot down in May.' But I hope we're going to be back up top in June.'' - Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi
For the Jays (27-23), who were previously swept on this trip in Boston by the Red Sox (three games) and in Atlanta by the Braves (three games), it marks the first time in franchise history they have not been able to record at least one victory during a nine-game junket.
"This was probably the worst loss we had on this trip because we were leading and we had Doc on the mound," Toronto manager Cito Gaston said.
The Jays have a day off today, and can perhaps seek some counselling to soothe their fragile psyche before regrouping for an important three-game home series against the Red Sox beginning tomorrow at Rogers Centre.
Before yesterday's game, Halladay was spotted in a training room adjacent the Toronto clubhouse riding a stationary bike. Kind of sums up the Blue Jays of late: going nowhere fast.
The news could still be a lot worse as far as general manager J.P. Ricciardi was concerned as his Jays still remain in the thick of things in the American League East.
"We're going through a tough spot. It happens," Ricciardi said before the game. "I was thinking of Frank Sinatra, 'Riding high in April, shot down in May.' But I hope we're going to be back up top in June.
"No one ever says it's going to keep going upwards in a straight line. But it's a good group, they're playing hard and I think we'll be alright. We'll get out of it."
Toronto's bats, which had been mostly cold throughout the first eight games of the trip, started to finally warm yesterday. And Halladay appeared well on his way to earning his ninth win of the year after Toronto scored six in the fourth inning to take a 7-2 lead.
After seven innings, Toronto's lead was 8-3 and Gaston, with Halladay having already thrown 102 pitches, decided to go to his bullpen.
Could Halladay, who is known for throwing complete games, have continued?
"It's tough," Halladay said. "Obviously, you're always going to wish you had the decision back. But I'd battled to that point. I'd had myself in trouble, got out of it. I think at the time it's the right move."
In came Jesse Carlson, and he got shelled for five runs - a potential sixth was thrown out at the plate - off three hits, that knotted the score at 8-8.
Scott Downs came into the game with the bases loaded to surrender the last three runs on Carlson's behalf off two hits.
Down, but not yet out, the Blue Jays were able to pick themselves up off the mat to counterpunch in 11th, when Aaron Hill launched a two-run shot to centre (his 12th of the season) that provided Toronto with a 10-8 lead.
NOTES With a single in the first inning, Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Aaron Hill increased his hit streak to 11 games. … Baltimore Orioles designated hitter Luke Scott clubbed a two-run home run in the second inning, the first homer given up by Roy Halladay in his past five outings. … Scott Downs, who relieved Jesse Carlson in the eighth inning for the Jays, injured a hamstring, but manager Cito Gaston said it was nothing serious. … Hill's homer in the 11th broke a streak of 77 consecutive innings in which the Blue Jays had not hit a home run.
NEXT Tomorrow, v. Boston Red Sox at Rogers Centre, 7:07 p.m. EDT
PROBABLE PITCHERS Jays RHP Casey Janssen (0-1, 4.50 ERA) v. Red Sox RHP Tim Wakefield (6-2, 3.99)
TV Rogers Sportsnet
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