Blue Jays fall one comeback short
Sac fly in 10th dooms Toronto in seesaw battle vs. Texas
TORONTO -- The door to Toronto's bullpen swung open in left field, and Jason Frasor began his jog toward the mound in the ninth inning Saturday afternoon. Cue the shot of the injured closer.
Sure enough, as Frasor began to work through his warmup pitches, the TV broadcast turned to an image of Blue Jays All-Star B.J. Ryan. There sat the ailing left-hander, wearing a gray sweatshirt instead of a Toronto jersey and still nursing an injured elbow that will keep him out of action until at least mid-June.
In Ryan's absence, the Blue Jays have asked Frasor to hold down the fort, a task he wasn't able to complete on Saturday. Frasor let a late two-run lead slip away, sending Toronto on its way to a 9-8 loss during a 10-inning slugfest at Rogers Centre.
"You always miss him," said Jays center fielder Vernon Wells, referring to Ryan. "But I think everybody has confidence in Frasor to do the job. It's just that they did a better job than he did tonight."
After the loss, Toronto manager John Gibbons kept his office door closed, declining to discuss the game's outcome with the media. It was hard to blame him, considering that things were just as quiet inside the clubhouse, where the players also had little to say.
"Frustrating," Wells said. "That's the best way to put it. I don't know. I don't really have too much to say about it, to be honest with you. We just didn't do enough to win tonight."
Gibbons turned to Frasor in the ninth after Adam Lind's two-run homer put the Blue Jays ahead, 7-5, an inning earlier. Since taking over for Ryan, Toronto's leader with 38 saves in 2006, Frasor was perfect in a pair of save opportunities, and he entered Saturday's contest with a 1.74 ERA for the Jays (11-12).
Shortstop Michael Young kicked off the Rangers' rally by driving the eighth pitch he saw from Frasor up the middle for a leadoff single. Frasor followed with a walk to Texas' Mark Teixeira, but after two quick outs, the newly appointed closer was just one good pitch away from ending the threat.
"I had them," said a dejected Frasor.
That was until Frasor issued another walk, this time against Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler, to load the bases. Next up was pinch-hitter Frank Catalanotto, who took the third pitch from Frasor off his right leg, sending Young jogging home to cut Toronto's advantage to one run.
The Jays' lead promptly vanished when Brad Wilkerson followed with a sharp single that bounced off the glove of a diving Royce Clayton at shortstop. That scored Teixeira and Kinsler to hand Frasor his first blown save since replacing Ryan, who has been sidelined since April 15.
"Walks, man," Frasor said. "That makes for a long inning. It was a grind. It came down to walks and a hit batsman."
The Blue Jays didn't go down without a fight.
In the bottom of the ninth, a single by John McDonald and an error by Rangers third baseman Hank Blalock put two runners on base for Clayton. Toronto's shortstop singled up the middle to knot the score at 9, and gave an emphatic fist pump as he rounded first base.
It all went for naught, though.
The Rangers (10-13) completed their comeback in the 10th against Jays reliever Brian Tallet (0-1), who rejoined the bullpen when Ryan was transferred to the 60-day disabled list on Monday. After Tallet loaded the bases with one out, Blalock successfully chipped in a sacrifice fly to deep center that put Texas ahead for good.
"I was looking for that double play," Tallet said. "I got ahead, but [Blalock] was able to work the count back to 3-2. I wasn't going to walk him and walk in a run. I wanted to make sure I threw a strike. He did a good job of lifting the ball to the outfield."
The bullpen's struggles -- Shaun Marcum also yielded a game-tying blast to Teixeira in the seventh inning -- overshadowed the efforts of Toronto's offense. The Blue Jays pieced together a four-run sixth against Texas starter Kevin Millwood, who exited after 5 1/3 innings.
That outburst was highlight by the 491st career blast by Jays designated hitter Frank Thomas, who sent a 3-2 pitch from Millwood deep to left for a solo homer. Toronto third baseman Troy Glaus, who was activated from the 15-day DL prior to the game, added an RBI single in the frame, and later scored from second on a single by Alex Rios.
Frasor wasn't able to make Toronto's lead stand up, and he was more than willing to shoulder the blame. The inexperienced closer is still learning about having a short memory, though.
"I have a few regrets from that inning. I lost the game because of it," Frasor said. "The sun hasn't been shining here in Toronto, so I don't know if the sun's going to come up tomorrow. But I'm getting better at having that quick memory. Hopefully, there'll be a save situation tomorrow."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.