08/23/08 6:39 PM ET
Blowouts becoming a Toronto regularity
Wells' two homers lead offense, while Litsch has strong start
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
The air inside a clubhouse is always a little lighter after a win, especially when it's done in dominating fashion. Toronto's 11-0 dismantling of Boston certainly made for a more agreeable atmosphere around Wells' locker, where he held court and downplayed his role in the decisive victory.
Wells quickly cited his 0-for-4 performance against Boston in the series-opening loss on Friday night, noting that he came up empty late with the game on the line. One day later, it was a complete reversal of fortune, as Wells collected a season-high four hits to help back a strong showing from starter Jesse Litsch.
"I was so bad yesterday," Wells said. "It couldn't go anywhere but up. This is how funny this game is. You can not get a ball out of the infield one day and then do what I did today. You take the good with the bad, and hopefully you have more days like this."
The Jays (67-62) have enjoyed a few routs similar to Saturday's of late, pouring out double digits in runs in three of their past five wins. There was the 14-3 drubbing of the rival Yankees on Thursday and the 15-4 thrashing of the Red Sox on Sunday in Boston. It's a development that Toronto manager Cito Gaston wouldn't mind seeing more often.
"We just need to get that a little more consistently," said Gaston, who then chuckled. "Not 11 runs, but five or six runs a game would be great. There's not too many teams that can average that, but let's try to get somewhere close to that."
Offensive production like that would undoubtedly help Toronto in its quest to remain in the hunt for the American League's fourth playoff spot. The win over the Wild Card-leading Red Sox (74-55) cut the Jays' deficit in those standings to seven games with 33 tilts remaining, including eight more against Boston.
An argument could be made that much of Toronto's hopes rest on the shoulders of Wells, who is the cleanup hitter within the Jays' inconsistent lineup. Due to various injuries this season, Wells has resided on the disabled list for 52 games, but he's still among Toronto's leaders with a .289 average, 12 home runs and 54 RBIs.
In the first inning against the Red Sox, Wells sent the first pitch he saw from left-hander Jon Lester (12-5) bouncing off the facing of the second deck in left field, giving Toronto a 2-0 lead with a two-out, two-run blast. Wells' solo shot in the fifth inning ducked over the wall in left-center field, putting the Jays ahead, 11-0.
"To see Vernon have a day like today," Gaston said, "that's the Vernon that I'm pretty sure we're all used to seeing in the past. Hopefully, he can keep that up and we keep rolling."
Wells' performance was the driving force behind an overwhelming showing from Toronto's offense, which sent Lester to the showers with seven runs on his line in just 2 1/3 innings -- the shortest start of his career. The Jays piled up seven extra-base hits, had seven players record at least one hit and saw another six cross home plate at least once.
Marco Scutaro added a solo homer in the fifth for the Jays, who also saw Alex Rios and Kevin Mench contribute three hits apiece in the 16-hit attack. Like Wells, Lyle Overbay chipped in a trio of RBIs for Toronto, which scored in each of the first five innings to put the game well out of Boston's reach.
"It's fun to have them," said Wells, referring to the recent routs. "Especially when the number on their side is a zero. That's equally impressive with the lineup they have over there. It's obviously a lot better to win by that number."
The blanking of Boston was a credit to Litsch (9-7), who silenced the Red Sox for six innings before handing the game over to Toronto's bullpen. Turning to the Jays' relief corps typically means "game over," as Wells put it, and that was certainly the case on this afternoon at Rogers Centre.
Wells -- the three-time Gold Glove Award winner that he is -- also added a pair of impressive catches to aid Litsch's outing. Wells ran down a deep fly ball from Boston's Jason Bay at the wall in left-center field to open the sixth inning, and he made a spectacular overhead grab on another Bay drive to end the third.
On the latter, Wells didn't even use his glove.
Sprinting toward the wall in straightaway center, Wells peered over his shoulder and realized the ball Bay smashed was hooking to the left. Wells quickly altered his route and the ball lodged between his arm and his body for the out, though how the baseball ended up in that spot forced an embarrassed laugh from the center fielder.
"I have a rather large nose," said Wells, managing a grin. "It actually grazed off my nose before it hit my bicep, which was kind of funny. I was actually laughing about it when I was coming back to the dugout.
"It did. It actually grazed my nose and hit my bicep next. Whatever. It worked."
The win made the play an easy one to smile about.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.