04/22/09 12:35 AM ET
Halladay takes first loss against Rangers
Right-hander gives up five runs; Hill homers for Jays
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
The opportunity was there -- bases loaded with one out in the eighth inning against the Rangers -- but the Blue Jays' bats went quiet and Toronto slipped to a 5-4 loss at Rogers Centre. The result sent Halladay to the loss column for the first time this season and made for a subdued clubhouse.
"We've been doing it all year," Blue Jays catcher Rod Barajas said. "We were confident somebody was going to come through. We battled out there. We gave ourselves the opportunity to at least tie the game up. Tonight just wasn't the night for us."
Twice, Toronto (10-5) did pull the game into a deadlock after Texas jumped out to a lead against Halladay. Each time, though, Halladay struggled to tame the Rangers' potent lineup, a group that has been kept close to the Jays near the top of the American League's offensive categories over the past two weeks.
There were five innings in which the Blue Jays put at least one runner on base and came up empty -- four times against Rangers starter Brandon McCarthy (2-0). The missed chances that proved most costly came after Texas turned to its bullpen, which gave Toronto every opportunity to swing the game in its favor over the final two frames.
In the eighth inning, a run-scoring single by Blue Jays designated hitter Adam Lind cut Texas' lead down to 5-4 with one out. The Rangers then turned to closer Frank Francisco, who allowed a base hit to Scott Rolen and issued a walk to Lyle Overbay to load the bases. Barajas followed by drilling a pitch down the third-base line, where Texas' Michael Young made a leaping grab for the second out.
"I hit it hard," Barajas said. "I wasn't sure exactly where Mikey Young was playing at. That was my approach there: hit the ball hard somewhere and hope something good happens. Unfortunately, I hit it right at him."
Toronto rookie Travis Snider flew out to center field to end the inning, but that wasn't the Jays' last chance to come through at the plate. In bottom of the ninth, second baseman Aaron Hill pulled a pitch from Francisco into the left-field corner for a one-out double. Two batters and two quick outs later, Hill jogged off the field and into the clubhouse.
The Jays went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position in the opener of a three-game set against Texas, but that showing doesn't reflect how the team has performed to this point. That's at least one positive for Toronto to take out of the loss -- that it was a break from the norm for the offense. Last season, there were plenty of games that lacked good situational hitting for Toronto.
"It's something we've lacked in the past," Hill said. "So, even though you lose, OK, you get over it and come back tomorrow and go about our game. The guys did a good job today. It's over with."
The Rangers (6-7) took advantage of the few mistakes made by Halladay (3-1), showing off their power with a pair of costly home runs. Following a leadoff double by Marlon Byrd in the second, Nelson Cruz crushed an 0-1 pitch from Halladay for a two-run homer. After a one-out double by Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the seventh, Ian Kinsler belted a 1-0 offering from Halladay for another two-run shot.
Kinsler's home run put the Blue Jays behind, 5-3, canceling out Hill's solo shot in the fifth inning -- a blast that gave him a team-high five on the year and shifted the game into a 3-3 tie. Halladay went on to log eight innings, finishing with nine strikeouts and no walks in the effort, but the damage was already done.
"There's obviously some good hitters in their lineup," Halladay said. "A couple bloops and you can make a mistake and all of a sudden you're down two or three runs -- that's the tough part. They have the ability to hit home runs, especially when you don't make quality pitches.
"Obviously, any time you make a poor pitch -- regardless of results -- you can't be satisfied. With guys on base late in the game, to make poor pitches, that's the hardest part. Obviously, that's when it hurts the most. I've got to be better, working down and staying out of those situations."
It was one of those rare games when both Halladay and the bats weren't able to come through for the Blue Jays.
"We did everything we could to try to win it," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. "A couple breaks and we're sitting here the winner. ... Our guys played hard. They came back and battled and that's all I can ask of them."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.