04/11/08 1:15 AM ET
Jays fall short in A's sweep
Gibbons vents frustration after 12-inning loss at home
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
After the Blue Jays squandered a plethora of scoring chances in a grueling 3-2 loss to the A's in 12 innings, Gibbons was asked if he might consider shaking up his lineup in an attempt to ignite the offense. Leaning back in his chair, Gibbons turned the tables and posed a question of his own.
"What do you want me to switch up?" Gibbons said.
When his curt reply was met with silence, Gibbons continued to let his frustation show -- understandable after the Jays were dealt a three-game sweep by the surging A's.
"Give me what to switch up and I'll do it," Gibbons said. "What do you recommend? Anything? Your team is your team and we like this team. We just have to stick it out with them."
The season is still young, so Gibbons' insistence on backing his troops is fair enough. Toronto (4-5) was simply shut down over the past two losses to Oakland (6-4), but its the same Blue Jays club that handed the reigning World Series champion Red Sox a three-game sweep last weekend.
Inconsistency with Toronto's offense has been apparent, though. In that successful series against Boston, the Jays were able to take advantage of Red Sox mistakes, scoring 23 runs over three games. In the past two losses to Oakland, Toronto combined to go 4-for-27 with runners in scoring position with 24 runners stranded.
On Thursday night, Toronto stranded 13 baserunners, including seven between the ninth and 12th innings -- each frame an opportunity to win the game. Twice over the final four innings against the A's, the Blue Jays had what would've been the game's winning run standing on third base.
"When it gets late, there's not a whole lot of breathing room there," Gibbons said. "The whole team, you've got a chance to walk the game off right there. It's frustrating. I'm frustrated. We're all frustrated."
The same can't be said for the A's, who were handled all game long by Toronto pitching before finally striking the decisive blow in the 12th and final frame. With the bullpen worn thin and the game knotted, 1-1, Gibbons turned to right-hander Brandon League in the 12th.
League (0-1) opened the inning by allowing a single to Oakland outfielder Chris Denorfia and later loaded the bases with one out. Oakland's Travis Buck then applied the dagger, drilling a 1-1 sinker from League into center field for a two-run double -- the right fielder's sixth two-base hit of the series and third of the game.
"If I can get a ground ball, we get out of the inning," League said. "I threw a sinker and left it up. He put it in the air. Otherwise, I get another ground ball. That's just the way the game is."
Buck's late-inning heroics put Toronto behind, 3-1, but the Jays managed one more rally. In the home half of the 12th inning, Alex Rios doubled and scored on an RBI single by Vernon Wells, cutting Toronto's deficit to one run. Two batters later, Aaron Hill came up short by grounding into a game-ending double play.
It was an unfortunate chain of events for the Blue Jays, who received a stellar outing from starter Shaun Marcum. The right-hander cruised through seven innings, striking out eight Oakland batters and surrendering just one run, courtesy of a double by Buck in the fifth inning.
"I've never been a guy to worry about myself," Marcum said. "It's more about the team. So if I go out there and do my job and we lost, then I don't feel like I did my job. We've just got to move on."
Between the sixth and 11th innings, Marcum and a cast of Toronto relievers combined to allow no hits and just one baserunner over a span of 18 A's hitters. Unfortunately, the Jays had a difficult time trying to solve Oakland left-hander Dana Eveland and the bullpen arms that followed.
A victory was in reach for the Jays in the 11th inning, when they put runners on the corners with just one out. A spectacular diving stop by A's third baseman Jack Hannahan on a grounder off the bat of Marco Scutaro and a harmless chopper off the bat of Toronto's David Eckstein left the Jays wanting.
"We got off to such a good start on this homestand," Gibbons said. "Then we kind of coughed it up these last three days. We had a chance to win them, but that didn't happen. They got that big hit late that we didn't get."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.