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08/02/08 9:01 PM ET
Gaston not worried about closer Ryan
Jays manager confident his closer will find his groove
By Shawn Shroyer / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- B.J. Ryan's ninth-inning meltdown on Friday hasn't sent manager Cito Gaston into a panic. He still believes in Ryan's ability to close games and he hasn't noticed a loss in confidence on Ryan's behalf, even though his fastball has dipped below 90 mph consistently. "I think he's going to be alright," Gaston said. "His velocity isn't up to where it should be, but give him time and he'll get back. What's he got, three blown saves this season? That's not bad at all. "What I see is a guy who believes in himself. Since he's been here, I've seen him 91-92 [mph]. If he can get back there, it'll be nice." Of course, every pitcher can have a bad night and Ryan certainly isn't the first to have an off night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. For example, Texas closer C.J. Wilson owns a 6.49 ERA at his home ballpark. Ryan is 2-4 this season after taking the loss on Friday, with a 3.41 ERA and 20 saves in 23 chances, so Gaston isn't discouraged by the three runs Ryan surrendered to Texas in the ninth inning of the Blue Jays' 9-8 loss to the Rangers Friday. He knows Ryan has a closer's mentality and sometimes that can make up for a lack of velocity. Gaston doesn't plan to lighten Ryan's workload any as the season progresses, either. Early in the season, the Blue Jays held back in using Ryan in consecutive games, but Gaston isn't afraid to do that now. "We can do him back-to-back days, but not three straight days," Gaston said. "If I get him up to pitch tonight and don't use him, I won't be able to use him tomorrow, though." Although Gaston wasn't discouraged by Ryan's performance, that's not to say he didn't take Friday's loss harder than most. His club led 6-0 at one point and scrapped for two runs in the ninth to take an 8-6 lead. The game ultimately came down to a showdown between Ryan and David Murphy. Ryan walked Marlon Byrd intentionally to get to Murphy for a lefty-on-lefty matchup. It was the second time in the game Toronto walked the bases loaded with a lefty on the mound to get to Murphy, and it had the same result -- a two-run single. Gaston made the decision to walk Byrd both times based on Murphy's numbers against left-handed pitching. And even after Murphy's two big hits off lefties on Friday that brought his average against southpaws up to .250, Gaston said he'd make the same decision in the same situation the rest of the series. "It was like we lost twice," Gaston said. "We were up twice and gave up the lead twice. But if we face him again, we'll do the same thing."
Shawn Shroyer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.