The Daily Chaos of Kalamity K
Slam dunks Blue Jays
I'm so glad to see the rock stars take precedence. That's
so very refreshing. Really. No, I mean, really. Even if
it IS Pearl Jam. Whatever.
Sep. 20, 2005. 01:00 AM
Slam dunks Blue Jays
Mariners' Sexson tattoos struggling Batista in ninth
Rios emerges from Gibbons' doghouse with triple, homer
At least the Blue Jays managed to get all of their Alex
Rios problems taken care of.
No one could accuse Rios of a lack of hustle on his third-
inning triple last night, or even of dogging it as he
jogged speedily around the bases on a solo homer in the
fourth. But a much longer-term problem brewing for the Jays
involves the guy who came sprinting in from the bullpen in
the ninth inning to protect a one-run lead Rios had helped
That would be closer Miguel Batista, who loaded the bases
and issued a grand-slam home run to Seattle Mariners
slugger Richie Sexson that sent the Jays towards a stunning
"There's no question he's been through some tough times,
but you know what, everybody has a little bit,'' Jays
manager John Gibbons said after Toronto's 7-5 loss on
Batista's fourth blown save in his last nine
attempts. "This whole game comes down to location. Whether
you're a starter or a reliever, you have to make a pitch.''
And Batista just couldn't do that in the ninth, as a paltry
Rogers Centre crowd, generously announced at 18,762, moaned
and groaned in disbelief at what was unfolding. It's a lot
easier for the Jays to deal with short-term problems, like
benching Rios on Friday for not hustling on a fly-ball out,
than the larger issue of their closer.
Jays starter Scott Downs lasted only five innings, yielding
a two-run homer to Jose Lopez in the fourth and a Yuniesky
Betancourt triple and RBI groundout from Sexson in the
fifth. But three scoreless frames by his bullpen had Downs
positioned to win until Batista, averaging nearly two
baserunners per inning since the all-star break, allowed a
leadoff single to pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs in the ninth.
Dobbs was lifted for pinch-runner Jaime Bubela and the next
batter, speedy Ichiro Suzuki, bunted for a base hit. After
both runners were bunted over by pinch-hitter Ramon
Santiago, the Jays walked Raul Ibanez to load the bases
intentionally for clean-up hitter Sexson.
"He's had a lot of success against Sexson in his career,"
Gibbons said of Batista.
Indeed, the towering Sexson was just 2for10 with no extra-
base hits against Toronto's quickly fading closer. That
could explain why Sexson gave Batista zero chance to get
ahead of him, unloading on the very first pitch and sending
it well beyond the wall in right field.
The previously lifeless crowd was by now fully awake. They
booed mercilessly as Batista trudged off the field,
replaced by Jason Frasor.
And while the Jays managed another of those too-little, too-
late comebacks, loading the bases in the ninth and scoring
once before Reed Johnson grounded out, this loss hurts.
That's partly because the 73-76 team's chances of finishing
at .500 took a big blow, though Gibson was right in
saying, "Miggy surely didn't cost us a pennant tonight.''
More serious is the $4.75 million (U.S.) committed next
season to a pitcher who has shown he is not a fit as a
starter or as a closer, at least judging by the second
half. Even when Batista notched the save on Sunday against
the Yankees, freezing Derek Jeter on a called third strike,
he'd given up a run and allowed the tying marker to reach
Batista wasn't around to take questions, nor were most of
the Jays — Rios included — who raced out to attend a Pearl
Jam concert. Rios had said after his benching, "I guess
they saw something from me that they didn't like.''
He made sure they didn't see it again, hustling out of the
box in the third on a drive to left-centre that eluded
Ibanez. Rios scooted into third and scored when seldom-used
Ken Huckaby drove a blast off the left-field wall.