Cecil ends rookie season with a win
Left-hander limits Twins to just two runs in six innings
TORONTO -- Brett Cecil finished his rookie season with something to build on for next year. Adam Lind kept building toward his first 100-RBI season.And going with a starting lineup that did not include shortstop Marco Scutaro, center fielder Vernon Wells, second baseman Aaron Hill and catcher Rod Barajas, the Toronto Blue Jays crafted a 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday afternoon before a crowd of 11,461 at the Rogers Centre. It was the second-smallest announced attendance to see the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. The smallest was 11,159 for Wednesday's 4-1 loss to the Twins. The previous low was 12,571 on April 30, 2002. The six innings Cecil (7-4) pitched gives him 142 1/3 for the season between the big leagues and the Minors, and that is about as much as the organization wanted him to throw this year in his second full season as a professional. "To be shut down before the season ends is kind of weird," Cecil said before donning a cheerleader's costume that was required for all rookies on the trip to Detroit that followed the game. "But [I] have a lot of things to work on [with pitching coach Brad Arnsberg], and we're going to do that until the season's over." Cecil allowed seven hits -- including Denard Span's seventh home run of the season -- and two runs while striking out three. Nick Punto's double and Orlando Cabrera's single in the fifth accounted for Minnesota's other run. Probably the best thing was Cecil's ability to keep the ball down, something that had been a problem. And he allowed only one walk.
"Any time you do that, you keep yourself out of trouble," manager Cito Gaston said. "He did keep the ball down, I thought, most of the game and mixed it up pretty good, and he got results."Closer Jason Frasor pitched the ninth inning for his eighth save. Lind drove in two runs with a first-inning double and a fifth-inning sacrifice fly to give him a team-leading 96 RBIs for the season. Jose Bautista, who started in center for Wells, hit his fifth homer of the season. He also doubled and walked. Toronto's six hits and three runs were enough to end the seven-game string of wins by Twins starter Scott Baker (13-8), who had not lost since a July 7 defeat to the New York Yankees. He allowed five hits and four walks and struck out seven in 6 2/3 innings. Cecil did a couple of things different for his 17th start of the season. He didn't bring his hands over his head like he had been in the windup, and he kept them lower when pitching from the stretch. The changes were to keep his hands and the lower half of his body in sync. Cecil finished with a 5.30 ERA, but he felt there was some learning involved. "I think it's good that everybody gets knocked around a little bit, and if you go through a season pitching well, you don't learn anything," he said. "If you have a bad outing, you have something to work on and it makes you better." One thing Cecil has learned is how to deal with the mental aspect of the game at the Major League level.
"It's when you make a bad pitch, or have a bad inning, or have a bad game -- that you leave it [at the park]," he said. "Another day is another day, another pitch is another pitch, another inning is another inning.""Cecil pitched a good ballgame for us," Gaston said. "The guys came out of the bullpen and shut everything down, so we were able to get by with three runs today." With Lind and Hill, who has 94 RBIs, the Blue Jays have a chance to have two players with 100 or more RBIs, and they have not had one since 2006, when Vernon Wells had 106 and Troy Glaus 104. "It would be great for those two kids who really have played hard and battled hard all year and have done a great job for us," Gaston said. "To drive in 100 runs is big. Not a lot of people can do that." Hill, who was in Palm Harbor, Fla., where his wife, Elizabeth, gave birth to a daughter on Monday night, is expected to join the team in Detroit on Friday. At the beginning of the year, Lind just hoped to stay with the Major League team all season for the first time in his career. He is batting .301 with 28 homers to go with an RBI total he didn't think he would have this year.
"Never," Lind said.However, Lind hopes that this is a beginning to better things.
"To become an elite hitter, you need to do it for a decade," Lind said. "To say I've done it once is big for me. Hopefully I'll have more and better years. I've learned a lot of things. I've learned a lot about my swing, but it's hard to describe. It's something you learn through experience."
Larry Millson is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.