Closer Downs injured while batting
Blue Jays manager Gaston laments Interleague Play
PHILADELPHIA -- Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston has made it no secret that he is not the biggest fan of Interleague Play. Gaston believes playing under National League rules puts his pitchers at risk, and he let that be known again after losing closer Scott Downs to a left foot injury on Tuesday night.
In the top of the 10th inning of Toronto's 8-3 win over Philadelphia, with only one position player remaining on his bench, Gaston left Downs in the game to bat for himself. Downs chopped a pitch from Phillies reliever Tyler Walker to shortstop Jimmy Rollins for a groundout, but he stumbled out of the batter's box, injuring his foot on the play.
Following the game, X-rays of Downs' foot came back negative, and he is scheduled to undergo an MRI exam on Wednesday. There is a realistic chance Downs will wind up on the disabled list, reviving Gaston's argument that American League teams, which use the designated hitter, are at a disadvantage in Interleague Play.
"I know that a lot of people like this Interleague Play," Gaston said, "and I know it's great for the fans and all that. But that's what happens. Our [pitchers] don't take batting practice every day. They don't run. So things like this are going to happen until somebody wakes up and says, 'Look, let's play the DH the whole time or call it off.'"
Downs, who faced the minimum in a fast ninth inning, has established himself as one of the top relievers in baseball. He assumed the closer role earlier this season in light of the struggles of left-hander B.J. Ryan and has done well in the role. In 26 games for the Jays, Downs has posted a 1.98 ERA with eight saves and 28 strikeouts over 27 1/3 innings.
Losing Downs would be a big blow to Toronto's pitching staff, which is without ace Roy Halladay (right groin strain) and recently had starter Jesse Litsch undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Also sidelined are pitchers Shaun Marcum (right elbow) and Dustin McGowan (right shoulder).
"What else can we do here?" Gaston said. "Geez. It's just one of those years. We're losing everybody. We'll just keep fighting."
Gaston was asked if he considered using backup catcher Raul Chavez as a pinch-hitter for Downs, but the manager said that wasn't an option.
"No, I wouldn't have had anybody to hit for him," Gaston said. "You're not going to use your last guy."
Blue Jays starter Ricky Romero went 0-for-3 in his three plate appearances against the Phillies on Tuesday, striking out three times and stranding eight runners in the process. The left-hander hit from the right side of the plate, noting that he hadn't wielded a bat since his days as a high school player in Los Angeles.
"I haven't swung the bat in a long, long time," Romero said. "It's pretty tough. Obviously the National League teams have the advantage. We don't swing the bat at all. That's the main thing that they told me before I went up: 'Just don't get hurt. Try to do your job as best you can.' We're not paid to do that. We're paid to go out there and pitch."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.