Three-ball: Cecil, Jays bedevil Angels
Jays back gem with four-run seventh to take series opener
ANAHEIM -- When Brett Cecil returns to Toronto and retrieves the glasses he forgot to bring with him on the current road trip, the Blue Jays starter might hesitate before putting them on. Cecil has now pieced together two strong outings without his signature specs.
Maybe Cecil doesn't need them after all.
"I hope that's not the case," Cecil said with a laugh. "Those cost a little bit of money. I need those back. I guess I could sell them or do something with them."
The southpaw's night vision was just fine against the Angels on Monday, who looked baffled as the young lefty guided the Jays to a 6-0 victory in the opener of a three-game series. Cecil was not overpowering, but he was more than effective in limiting Los Angeles' lineup to just two hits during his time on the hill.
Toronto (27-20) found the win column without belting a home run -- something the club has done just five times in 13 homerless games this season -- and improved to 16-9 away from Rogers Centre. Angels lefty Joe Saunders helped the Jays with his erratic command, but it was Cecil that made all the difference in this latest win.
"He did a great job against that team over there, which is a good-hitting ballclub," said Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston. "He did an oustanding job for us."
Gaston said he was more impressed with Cecil's showing against the Angels than with the left-hander's overpowering night against the Indians on May 3. In that start, Cecil struck out 10 batters, allowed one hit and flirted with a perfect game. Gaston said the lefty's latest act stood out due to the opponent.
"It's a lot better lineup he was facing," Gaston said.
Asked which outing he thought was better, Cecil smiled.
"I'd rather have Cleveland's game," he replied. "[I'd rather] have that powerful 92- or 93-mph and sometimes 95-mph heater. But, I'll take this any day."
That was the biggest difference this time for Cecil.
The 23-year-old lefty said he did not feel comfortable in his pregame bullpen session, and even noted that he still did not feel great through the first five or six innings against the Angels. That would probably come as a surprise for L.A.'s hitters, who only managed one third-inning single off Cecil through the first seven frames.
"He pitched well -- no doubt about it," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "He moved the ball around and changed speeds."
Cecil (4-2) relied on a good cutter to induce weak contact and combined that with an effective fastball and changeup. The result was an outing during which he trusted his defense to do much of the heavy lifting. Cecil struck out just three, walked two and finished with 12 flyouts and seven groundouts over his 7 1/3 innings.
"I just felt like I didn't have anything behind the ball," Cecil said. "I was hitting good spots. When I went inside, I got it inside. When I wanted to go away, it was away, and I got some broken-bat ground balls. I just didn't feel like I had that powerful stuff."
Toronto's homer-happy offense decided to use a different approach against Saunders, who picked up the loss after giving up three runs on four hits over 6 1/3 innings for the Angels (21-26). The Blue Jays drew eight walks -- two of which turned into runs -- and received key hits from a handful of players.
"We had some big hits," Gaston said. "We didn't have a lot of hits, but we had some key hits and got the job done. That proves we can score six runs without a home run."
Fred Lewis tripled and scored in the first inning on a sacrifice fly from Adam Lind, and John Buck drove in a run with a base hit in the fourth. In the seventh, the Blue Jays broke through for four runs, including one on an opposite-field double from Lind, who now has a 12-game hitting streak against the Angels.
"He looked like his old self," Gaston said of Lind. "Whether it's against them or whatever, it seemed like he was on tonight."
For that matter, so was Cecil.
It was the second strong start in a row for Cecil, who held the Mariners to two runs over 6 1/3 innings in a win on the road on Wednesday. The two consecutive victories follow a disastrous outing at home against Boston on May 14, when Cecil surrendered eight runs in just two innings.
"I've seen him have more good starts than bad starts," Gaston said. "That start, two starts before, was just one of the bad ones. All spring he pitched well, and he's pitched well pretty much since he's been back here."
Even without his glasses.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.