Rajai Davis can't lift Blue Jays over Mariners
Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia tags out Mariners baserunner John Jaso at home plate on a throw by left fielder Rajai Davis (not shown) at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ont., Sept. 11, 2012. (MIKE CASSESE/Reuters)
It was a pretty good game if you happened to be Rajai Davis.
The Toronto Blue Jays left fielder didn't do a whole lot at the plate - he went 1-for-4 with a stolen base - but on the field he threw as many strikes as starter Brandon Morrow.
In both the first and third innings, Davis gunned down Seattle runners, the first one at the plate, but it wasn't enough to inspire the Jays or the 12,935 fans who took in Tuesday's game as the Mariners ended the Jays four-game win streak with a 4-3 triumph.
It was the smallest Rogers Centre crowd of the season.
In the first inning, with two Seattle runs already on the board, Davis cut down John Jaso at the plate with a perfect throw after the Mariners DH ran through the stop sign.
Davis came up big in the third as well when Jaso challenged his arm a second time in an attempt to go from first to third on a single by Jesus Montero.
Once again, though, Davis was right on the money with his seventh outfield assist of the season.
Davis came close to making it a trio when he just missed nailing Franklin Gutierrez at second in the ninth.
"When you look back at the last homestand and a half, he's thrown four baserunners out, three at home plate, one at third base tonight. He's done an excellent job in terms of making more accurate throws and getting better carry on it," Jays manager John Farrell said. "It's a credit to the early work and extra work that he does. He's made himself into a solid left fielder defensively."
Morrow was making his fourth start since returning to action Aug. 25 following a two-month stint on the disabled list due to an oblique strain.
It was his least effective outing and the results could have been a lot worse if not for the efficiency of Davis and his mighty right arm.
Coming into the game, Morrow had gone 1-1 with a 2.60 ERA in his last three starts, but this night the Mariners hit a number of balls on the screws and he allowed four runs on a season-high 11 hits over 4 2/3 innings.
It marked his first career loss against his former team and left his career mark against them at 3-1 in four starts.
He never had a handle on Tuesday's game as he gave up a double and two singles to the first three hitters he faced.
"The whole time I felt out of sync with my body, couldn't find my release point. I was struggling in that regard," said Morrow, who dropped to 8-6 on the season. "I think the only thing that kept that from being eight runs was probably my changeup. It was just one of those days really."
On Wednesday, Ricky Romero returns to the scene of the crime.
The last time the Jays lefty pitched was his disastrous start Sept. 2 against the Tampa Bay Rays when he lasted one inning plus seven batters and allowed seven runs on eight hits plus a walk. It marked the worst outing of his career.
Following the 9-4 rout, which marked Romero's 12th consecutive loss, the Jays announced they were giving him a break, both mentally and physically, to see if that could turn his evaporating fortunes around.
A new Romero?
"We're going to see Ricky who's got eight days of rest," Farrell replied.
Although he has had eight days between starts, the Jays didn't attempt any mechanical changes during the time off.
"With the extra rest we built in some down time," Farrell said. "His bullpen sessions have been consistent with what he's been doing in the past in terms of his routine. More than anything this is an opportunity to give him a little bit of a physical breather."
Romero, meanwhile, is raring to go.
"It's been a long time. I'm excited to get this going again," Romero said. "The biggest goal is to finish the next four starts that I have left as strong as possible, to build something off of that.
"This season is not going to define me (negatively) and the player that I know that I can be."
Farrell then hinted that although there is nothing physically wrong with Romero, he may be a bit arm weary and simply a little beat up.
"Possibly two consecutive years of over 200 innings has a residual effect, possibly," Farrell said. "It's not that uncommon to see trends start to develop with pitchers, two very good years followed by a year in which they can scuffle at times or go through periods where things aren't as sharp or clicking as they've done previous.
"We don't expect there to be anything physically (at the end of the season) to be an issue."
Farrell added that at no point through his ordeal have the Jays had him checked out to rule out a physical problem.
"Given the five-day routine that all of our starters go through that includes routine work with our trainers in regard to stretching, range of motion, manual strength testing, there were no red flags, no complaint on his part that he was abnormally sore, felt something abnormal than what he's felt his entire career," Farrell said. "Other than the peaks and valleys of performance, from a physical standpoint there was no red flag."