09/17/09 12:24 AM ET
Tallet, Downs hurt in Jays' tough loss
Starter exits after two, reliever gives up game-tying homer
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
In fact, the Blue Jays were nowhere near the pile of jubilant players that swarmed Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli in a wild celebration that ended in shallow left field. Toronto was trying to make a quick exit after absorbing a 5-4 loss in walk-off fashion to wrap up its forgettable season series against New York.
In the wake of its latest defeat, the Jays were less concerned about once again finding the loss column and more worried about the status of the two pitchers who exited due to injury. Starter Brian Tallet was struck on the right foot by a line drive and left after two innings, and lefty Scott Downs was pulled after tweaking his right hamstring in the eighth.
Those two losses were not the only setbacks to strike Toronto's already-depleted pitching staff, either. Prior to the game, Blue Jays left-hander Jesse Carlson was hit with a three-game suspension for his part in Tuesday night's bench-clearing incidents in the Bronx.
"That's not too good," said Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston, when asked about losing a handful of arms in one day.
The final blow came in the home half of the ninth inning, when Cervelli sent a pitch from Jays reliever Jason Frasor into left field for an RBI single that plated the decisive run. That gave Toronto (66-80) a 6-12 ledger against New York this year and represented the Major League-leading 48th comeback win of the season for the Yankees (94-53). It was also New York's 14th walk-off victory of the season.
Tallet -- struck on the foot by a sharply-hit grounder off the bat of Robinson Cano in the second -- said he suffered a "deep bone bruise," but X-rays revealed no structural damage. Even so, the lefty might miss his next start -- scheduled for Tuesday. With rookies Marc Rzepczynski and Brett Cecil shut down due to innings limitations, the Jays may be forced to use a group of relievers for that contest.
"I'm going to do everything I can to pitch in six days," said Tallet, who allowed two runs in two innings and left after throwing a few warm-up pitches before the third.
Downs could very well be done for the season. With only 16 games remaining on the schedule, the Jays may decide to shelve the late-inning reliever. Downs, who had two stints on the disabled list with a left foot issue earlier this year, injured his hamstring while running to cover first base on a play in the eighth.
"Breaking to get over, I just felt something kind of give and pop a little bit," said Downs, who will be examined by team doctors in Florida on Thursday. "I don't know if we're going to wait and see. The strength and everything is good. It's just frustrating -- that's all. If it's not one thing, it's another. It's just been one of those years.
"I don't know if there's anything I'm doing wrong or if it's just something that freak things happen."
Two batters before he injured his leg, Downs watched New York's Hideki Matsui crush a misplaced curveball into the right-field stands. That two-run blast erased the solid effort turned in by Toronto's relief corps over the previous five frames, following Tallet's abbreviated outing, and pulled the game into a 4-4 deadlock.
The game-tying homer also canceled out the work by the Blue Jays' offense. Jose Bautista contributed a solo home run off Yankees starter Chad Gaudin in the third, giving Toronto 14 long balls in its past six games, and the Jays built a 4-2 advantage that carried into the eighth inning. That merely set the stage for Matsui's heroics.
"He just went down and got it -- a curveball," Downs said. "I was trying to bounce it and didn't bounce it, and he's got one of those swings where if he catches it out front, that's what he likes to do. I just didn't execute what I was planning on doing."
Matsui has been a thorn in Toronto's side all season long, hitting at a .373 clip against the Jays with six homers and 18 RBIs across 17 games. Gaston noted that most of the damage inflicted by Matsui has come against breaking balls.
"I don't know how many curveball home runs Matsui's got to hit off of us before we change our mind on what we're going to throw him," Gaston said. "He seems to kill us, as far as hitting a big home run off us. He's done it a few times already."
Cervelli had not. His single marked the first walk-off hit of the rookie catcher's career, and the Yankees celebrated accordingly.
"If they stay close to you," Gaston said, "they always have a chance to beat you, especially in this ballpark."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.