Two years ago, Scotty Downs was the greatest guy in the world. Nowadays, he’s just another guy that can’t get an out with runners on base to save his life. Downs, with a bit of help from partner-in-crime Jason Frasor, wasted a strong outing from a Jays starter for the third time in the last five games this afternoon, blowing a 2-0 eighth inning lead against the Yankees in what turned into a 4-3 loss. Too bad, because Brandon Morrow was even sharper than his last time out against the Rays, striking out eight and giving up just four hits and a run in seven innings.
Vernon Wells hit a two-run homer — Toronto’s first of just three hits in the game — in the sixth to make it 2-0, but it all started crumbling when Morrow grazed Yankee catcher Francisco Cervelli with a 2-2 fastball to lead off the eighth. Downs replaced him and promptly hit Brett Gardner in the hand, and Derek Jeter followed with a double down the line to chase Downs and cut it to 2-1. Frasor came in, struck out Nick Swisher, intentionally walked Mark Teixeira and had Alex Rodriguez behind in the count before a block-able wild pitch sent Jose Molina somersaulting after the ball while Gardner scored the tying run. A-Rod struck out, but Frasor coughed up a two-run double to Robinson Cano to make it 4-2.
The Jays actually had a shot at evening it when Molina singled and Fred Lewis singled him home to start the bottom half, but Aaron Hill hit into a double play to kill the threat after a failed sac bunt attempt on the first pitch. Sure, conventional baseball wisdom would’ve called for him to stick to the bunt and play for the tie at home, but with a senile old man named Cito at the helm, the Jays ditched conventional wisdom a long time ago.
The loss wraps the homestand at 6-3, though it easily could’ve been 9-0 if the Jays had even one reliable guy in the bullpen that they can count on to get the job done. Apologies to Downs, Frasor and Kevin Gregg, but none of you are that guy, evidently. Shawn Camp, maybe, but he was either misused or unused in each of the three losses.
Anyway, I’m kind of glad tomorrow’s a day off after a tough one like this. The Jays are back in action Tuesday in Tampa Bay, with Brian Tallet (1-1, 4.63) and Jeff Niemann (5-0, 2.79) renewing acquaintances after meeting last Tuesday in Toronto.