Managers are usually criticized for leaving a pitcher in one batter too long. John Farrell lifted Ricky Romero one batter too early.
The temptation was understandable. After the Blue Jays scored three runs to tie the game at 4 in the sixth, Romero -- who looked varying degrees of shaky through most of the night -- walked Alejandro De Aza on five pitches to the start the seventh. He followed that by grazing Kevin Youkilis' elbow for a classic plate-crowding HBP.
Fearing Romero's control abandoned him, Farrell went to the mound and took the ball from him. It didn't make a whole lot of sense for two big reasons, though. Adam Dunn, the next batter, had a weak 0-for-3 against Romero (a backwards K and two weak groundouts). Plus, Farrell didn't even bring in a lefty.
He brought in Brad Lincoln, and on a 2-0 count, Dunn turned, burned and fired a bullet into the
balcony second deck. The Sox led 7-4 after Dunn's 399th homer, and they weren't done. Two batters later, A.J. Pierzynski doubled off the wall in right-center, and Dayan Viciedo did him two bases better with an opposite-field jack.
This game had the makings of a comfortable victory from the start, but the original plans were interrupted.
Pierzynski, Alexei Ramirez and Viciedo all singled to start the second. Dewayne Wise (getting the start against a lefty) lofted a flyball down the line, and Edwin Encarnacion appeared to make a great diving catch, tumbling into foul territory. But the ball came out when he hit the ground, and he took a few seconds to get his bearings, and that allowed two runs to score for a 2-0 lead.
Wise had two RBIs after the second, and four after the fourth. After Viciedo drew a tough walk to start the fourth, Wise cranked a no-doubter of his own over the right-field wall to double the lead.
Gavin Floyd eventually gave it back over the next two innings, although miscommunication played a part. Floyd struck out Rajai Davis for the second out of the fifth while the Jays tried a double steal.
Pierzynski came up firing to third -- except Youkilis wasn't covering the bag. Because Youkilis wasn't covering the bag, Omar Vizquel didn't slide. Because Vizquel didn't slide, Pierzynski's throw drilled him in the hip and bounced back into foul territory by the Toronto dugout. That was actually a lucky turn for everybody Vizquel, because had the throw continued on its original path, both runners would have scored.
(In the dugout, it looked like Youkilis told Pierzynski he thought a steal would be ignored with a 4-0 lead.)
Floyd stranded that runner, and good thing, because Kelly Johnson took, him deep with two runners on in the sixth inning to tie the game.
But thanks to the blasts by Dunn and Viciedo in the top of the seventh, Floyd would still escape with a victory and a quality start. The eight strikeouts and zero walks looked quite nice next to each other on his stat line.
The Veal also looked tasty. He struck out three over two scoreless innings, and he made Johnson and Colby Rasmus look especially helpless. He did allow his first baserunner via a full-count walk to Davis, but his mishandling of a tapper back to the mound was ruled an error. He has not allowed a hit over 3 2/3 innings this season.
- Alejandro De Aza led off the game with an HBP, but was picked off.
- Orlando Hudson had to leave the game after fouling a ball off the top of his left foot. X-rays were negative.
- Floyd picked up his first win in Toronto. He'd been 0-3 with an 8.25 in his career at Rogers Centre.
- Romero is now 0-9 with a 7.45 ERA over his last 10 starts.
- With two hits, Vizquel matched Harold Baines on the all-time hit list with 2,866. He saluted Baines from the dugout after his second hit, and Baines reciprocated.