Jays rally back only to fall in ninth
Toronto misses opportunities, victimized by 'lucky' play late
TORONTO -- With runners on the corners at the top of the ninth, Angels second baseman Howard Kendrick, who stood on third, should have broken for home as soon as the ball left the bat of teammate Erick Aybar. Instead, Kendrick hesitated, sprinting for home only after the Blue Jays had nearly completed a routine double play.
But Kendrick was lucky, and managed to beat the throw to the plate from Toronto first baseman Lyle Overbay, scoring the game-deciding run for the Angels, who dealt the Jays a 6-5 loss.
"There's no doubt about it. He should've broken right as soon as the ball was hit," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. "It's a play that -- it shouldn't happen. He didn't make the proper baserunning play. ... He's lucky he got away with it."
It was the last in a series of missed opportunities and hard-luck plays for the Blue Jays, who lost their second consecutive home series. The Jays (30-26) recovered from a rough start from left-hander Brian Tallet, tying the game with a three-run eighth, but struggled with runners in scoring position, sending them on their way to a deflating loss in the top of the ninth.
"That's why they're so good," Overbay said. "We had all the momentum. A great bunt to start the [ninth] inning off, now they've got a chance to either bunt him over with the top of the lineup coming up, or do a hit-and-run like they did. It's tough when those guys execute like that."
Kendrick's bunt led off the ninth, and he advanced to third on a single by third baseman Chone Figgins against right-hander Brandon League. Aybar then grounded to Blue Jays second baseman Aaron Hill, setting up the double play -- Hill, to shortstop Marco Scutaro, to Overbay. Since the ball was hit to the right side of the field, the Jays expected Kendrick to run home right away. He didn't, but there was not enough time for Overbay to make the relay to home plate -- the kind of lucky break the Jays just didn't get.
"That's pretty close to the one we had over in Baltimore," Gaston said, referring to a devastating loss to the Orioles in which collapses by the bullpen cost Toronto a game that was well in hand.
"We had a lot of chances to win. ... We did a lot of things right, we did a lot of things wrong. We certainly had chances to win."
After out-hitting Los Angeles, 12-10, and drawing five walks to the Angels' three, the Jays went 3-for-16 with runners in scoring position, leaving 11 men on base over the course of the game.
Although the Jays did manage to get three runs out of their eighth-inning outburst, it could've been more. Overbay pulled a pitch from reliever Darren Oliver down the right-field line, with left fielder Adam Lind and designated hitter Kevin Millar on first and second and no one out. The ball was just out of the reach of the Angels' Gary Matthews Jr., going for a double that scored both runners to make it 5-4.
The Jays then loaded the bases on walks by third baseman Jose Bautista and catcher Rod Barajas, before right fielder Joe Inglett hit into the first out of the inning, lining a ball directly to Kendrick.
"They did something interesting there -- they had the bases loaded and played the infield in," Gaston said. "They got lucky that Joe hit a line drive to the second baseman, which is really taking a chance.
"Another base hit and it's a different ballgame."
The Jays tied it on a sacrifice fly by Scutaro, before Hill struck out, leaving two men on base.
Remarkably, it was the second time in as many innings the Jays plated only one run after loading the bases with no one out. In the seventh inning, two walks and a single put Blue Jays at each bag, but Scutaro popped up, Hill grounded out -- cashing Toronto's only run in the frame -- and center fielder Alex Rios swung and missed at a 1-2 slider from Angels starter John Lackey for his fourth of five strikeouts of the game.
By the end of the seventh, the Jays had gone 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, leaving eight men on base as Lackey scattered seven hits and three walks over the seven innings he pitched. Lind went 3-for-3 against Lackey -- beginning a 5-for-5 outing, in which Lind recorded his eighth hit in as many at-bats, tying a club record -- but the rest of the team went a collective 4-for-24.
"He was throwing a lot of offspeed -- mixing in that curveball and slider, mixing locations," Overbay said of the Angels right-hander. "He throws a lot of pitches that look like strikes, and by the time they get there, they're off the plate, or you hit them on the end. I've seen him have better stuff, but he pitched real well with what he had."
Tallet allowed fewer hits than Lackey, giving up six hits and three walks, but did not do as well with runners in scoring position, as the Angels (27-25) went 3-for-7 in those scenarios over Tallet's six innings.
For the second straight start, Tallet struggled early in the game, giving the Angels a 3-0 lead in the opening frame on three hits and a walk. In his last start, the Red Sox tagged him for three runs over the first two innings.
"After I find a rhythm, the game comes a little easier, and the next thing you know I'm getting quick outs, and doing what I'm supposed to do," Tallet said. "But it's that first couple of innings -- I'm really laboring, and having to throw 20 to 30 pitches in an inning. That's just not acceptable because now I'm already in the hole, our team's in the hole, and from there you've got to try to grind it out.
"All in all, it was a really bad day. Horrible. Luckily, our offense really battled back, buckled in and were able to get the game tied up. It's a shame to let it go to waste."
Erika Gilbert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.