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Sabathia, Matsui come through


Sabathia, Matsui come through
Baseball REPORTER

He was the toast of the team in 2007, the little guy who flashed some big leather as the everyday shortstop of the Toronto Blue Jays .

These days, the bench is more the mainstay for John McDonald.

Even last night, when he made his first start of the season in the series finale against the New York Yankees, it was not at his preferred shortstop position, but at second base.

McDonald's presence in the lineup could not fuel Toronto's jets as the Yankees rallied to record a taut 3-2 victory and win the rubber match of the three-game set at the Rogers Centre.

For the Jays , the attendance was also disappointing - a crummy 22,667 to witness the American League East-leading team butt heads against a fierce divisional rival.

It was the second consecutive loss to the Yankees (17-17) for the Blue Jays (23-14), just the third time this season they have lost two in a row.

The winning run was produced by Hideki Matsui, the Yankees' designated hitter who rode a 2-2 pitch from Toronto reliever Jesse Carlson over the wall in right-centre in the eighth inning.

The game pitted Brian Tallet, making his sixth start since getting liberated from the Toronto bullpen, against CC Sabathia, the Yankee's $161-million (U.S.) man.

Sabathia ultimately prevailed, giving up the two Toronto runs on just five hits over eight innings to lift his record to 3-3.

Yankees closer Mariano Rivera came into the game in the ninth to earn his seventh save.

And it was an intriguing battle with Tallet pitching into the seventh inning with a 2-1 margin, courtesy of an Alex Rios home run in the fourth (No. 4 on the year) and a run-scoring double by Rod Barajas in the fifth.

In the seventh, Tallet stumbled, walking Brett Gardner, who then came around to score on a tying single by Francisco Cervelli.

After Tallet gave up a single to Derek Jeter, Gaston went to his bullpen for Jason Frasor, who did a tremendous job to stem the bleeding - striking out Johnny Damon before getting Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez to pop out to end the inning.

Carlson could not equal Frasor's success, giving up the homer to Matsui.

Baseball can be the cruellest of sports, a statement that Aaron Hill did not dispute when discussing McDonald's situation.

"It's a game of failure, right?" offered the rising young Blue Jays' star before last night's game.

Hill, usually the Jays starting second baseman, has enjoyed a fabulous start to the year, leading the majors with 55 hits and 30 runs batted in heading into last night's game.

It was his misfortune to foul a ball off his left shin during Wednesday's game against New York that left a nice welt and provided Toronto manager Cito Gaston the opening to insert McDonald into the starting lineup.

"Obviously I'd tell him I'd be fine," Hill said. "It may be a little bit of a lie."

Hill, who has played in every game this season for Toronto, took a turn as the team's designated hitter, a role he hasn't filled since the last game of the 2006 season, also against the Yankees.

McDonald has had his playing time dry up as a result of the fine play of Marco Scutaro, who has taken over as the Jays regular shortstop.

Also solid defensively, Scutaro is much more dangerous at the plate than McDonald and is the leader among lead-off hitters after 33 games with a .402 on-base percentage (minimum 100 at-bats).

Despite McDonald's continued sunny disposition that he's willing to accept any role the team has for him, Hill knows the lack of playing time has been difficult on his teammate.

"I know it's killing him inside," Hill said.

"He's an athlete, he wants to play. That's what's inside of him.

"He's ready, though. There's not a day where he's not ready to go. Third, fourth inning he's got a bat, he's running around doing his thing. That's Mac."

McDonald didn't do himself any favours when he came to the plate in the Toronto seventh in a tie ballgame, with runners at first and third base and one out, and promptly struck out.

After a walk to Scutaro, Sabathia regrouped with the bases loaded to get Hill to ground into a fielder's choice for the third out.

*****

ON DECK

NOTES Toronto Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston wasn't too impressed with Melky Cabrera of the New York Yankees when he took a couple of steps up in the batter's box as Scott Richmond's pitch was on its way during the second inning of Wednesday's game. Cabrera slugged a leadoff double that ignited a five-run New York outburst. In the old days, Gaston remarked, a batter who breached Baseball etiquette like that would not be looked upon too favourably next time up. ... After missing the first two games of the series with a sore right oblique muscle, Derek Jeter started at shortstop for the Yankees last night. ... Left-handers have not posed much of a problem for Toronto. The Jays went into the game tied for first with the Yankees with a .320 batting average verses lefties.

NEXT Tonight, against the Chicago White Sox, at Rogers Centre in Toronto, 7:07 EDT.

Probable pitchers Jays LHP Brett Cecil (1-0, 0.64) v. Yankees LHP John Danks (2-2, 3.41).

TV Rogers Preview

Robert MacLeod


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 15, 2009

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