Jays, Overbay's long shot fall short
Both Eckstein and McDonald leave game with injuries
TORONTO -- Lyle Overbay may just stroll out to center field in order to inspect the wall inside Rogers Centre. After what happened on Tuesday night, the Blue Jays' first baseman was simply baffled.
In the sixth inning, Overbay launched a pitch from the Rays' Andy Sonnanstine deep to center, where the baseball arced high in the air and appeared destined to clear the fence for a home run. Instead, the ball came crashing down on the top of the wall and subsequently bounced back into the field of play.
What could've been a game-changing homer turned into a double, but a few more inches and the Blue Jays might have avoided a 5-4 loss to the Rays. Considering the path the baseball took through the air, Overbay was nearly left questioning the laws of physics.
"It still boggles my mind. That doesn't make any sense," Overbay said with a laugh. "I wish it would've gone out and then we can have a chance and see what happens."
When Overbay stepped into the batter's box for that particular at-bat, the Blue Jays trailed, 5-3, but had a runner on first base with no outs. A home run would've knotted the score. The double plated Jays center fielder Vernon Wells and pulled Toronto within one run.
As has been the case for much of this season, though, the Jays weren't able to come through with any additional offense. That led to a discouraging defeat, snapping a five-game winning streak for Toronto (16-18), which received a rocky start from A.J. Burnett and lost shortstops David Eckstein and John McDonald to injury in the loss.
With Overbay standing on second base, representing the game's tying run, Aaron Hill flew out to left field for the first out of the sixth inning. Toronto catcher Gregg Zaun moved Overbay to third base with an infield single, but the inning promptly ended when Marco Scutato grounded into a double play.
That was Toronto's final chance with runners in scoring position against Tampa Bay (18-16). Scutaro's groundout shifted the Jays' season average with runners in scoring position to .211, which is the worst mark in the Majors. That play left Overbay wishing his hit had traveled just a tad further.
"I didn't expect it to go that far," Overbay said. "So when it went that far I was like,'Oh, OK.' And then, I'm like, 'Why couldn't it have gone a couple more inches?' It is frustrating, especially when I was on second with nobody out and we didn't execute.
"We still need to do that, and do a better job at that. We're all guilty in that effect, hundreds of times this year, it seems like. We need to do that a lot better. But, it would've made it a lot easier if it had gone out of the ballpark."
The Jays also would've benefited from a better outing from Burnett (3-3), who struck out a season-high 10 batters, but yielded five runs on nine hits over six innings. It represented the shortest outing by a dominant Toronto rotation since April 24 and the first time in 10 games that the Jays' staff gave up more than three runs.
In the third, Burnett's command wavered and the Rays struck for a trio of runs to take an early lead. The decisive blow came in the sixth inning, when former Jay Eric Hinske sent a 2-1 pitch from Burnett bouncing off the glass of Windows restaurant high above in center field to put the Jays behind, 5-3.
"You can look at it different ways," Jays manager John Gibbons said about Burnett's outing. "He was overpowering at times -- he had a lot of strikeouts. But they got some key hits off him when they had to. We've had trouble shutting down their offense."
Burnett didn't disagree.
"I missed some spots," he said. "There are some days when you're going to get away with some mistakes, but every mistake that I threw tonight they hit well and they hit hard. I didn't execute."
The loss had an added element of frustration in the loss of Eckstein and McDonald. Eckstein was forced from the game in the fifth inning after tweaking his right hip flexor on a dive in the third. In the sixth inning, McDonald needed to be carted off the field after injuring his right ankle while making a sliding catch.
It's likely that at least one of the shortstops is headed to the 15-day disabled list, though Gibbons said the Blue Jays wouldn't know the extent of the injuries until Wednesday.
A victory would've helped ease Toronto's suffering.
"Lyle's ball just missed going out," Gibbons said. "But, that's baseball."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.