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The one that got away

The one that got away
The Toronto Blue Jays' notable first week of the 2009 season ended with a peculiar pitching performance from starter David Purcey and a bizarre explanation for his patchy outing.

The second-year pitcher, who was raised in Addison, Tex., said he was unprepared to deal with the frosty 6C temperatures at Progressive Field in Toronto's 8-4 loss to the Cleveland Indians yesterday.

"I had a hard time getting a grip on the ball," Purcey said. "I made some mistakes, but I have to better prepare myself to deal with the conditions."

Dealing with the chilly conditions was an odd response, because here was a player making his 14th big-league appearance and he should have been experienced enough to pitch in cold weather. When asked to pinpoint what bothered him, Purcey said that the ball felt too dry in his hand.

The awkwardness felt by Purcey, who turns 27 on April 22, translated into six walks for the Indians - three of which eventually scored - but 10 strikeouts in 42/3 innings.

The loss put a damper on the Jays' sound start to the season. Still, their 5-2 start has them at the top of the American League East Division. After taking three of four games from the Detroit Tigers and two of three from the Indians, the Jays move on to Minnesota for a four-game series against the Twins.

"It will be a good early test for us," said Jays centre fielder Vernon Wells, who belted a two-run homer and a single in the series finale against Cleveland.

Wells and his teammates were disappointed they won't arrive in Minnesota with a 6-1 record, which would have matched their best start in club history, set in 1992 and repeated in 1994. The killer situation for the Jays occurred when they trailed 5-4, but had a seventh-inning rally snuffed out. Toronto shortstop Marco Scutaro struck out and Aaron Hill flied to right to leave runners on second and third after a Travis Snider sacrifice bunt moved Lyle Overbay and Rod Barajas over.

"It's unfortunate when you have a chance to come in here and sweep and you don't because this is a place we haven't played well in," said Wells, whose team had won only two of their previous 16 games in Cleveland.

Despite the disappointment yesterday, the Jays still departed Ohio with a major-league-leading offence with 46 runs, 72 hits and 124 total bases.

Even Wells, a notorious slow starter with a career batting average of .260 in April, picked up his game in the Cleveland series by going 5-for-13 and hitting his first home run of the season.

What has most impressed the veteran Wells about the Jays in their first week?

"Watching Adam Lind hit," Wells responded quickly. "Even with his outs, Adam has been hitting the ball hard.

"We just have to not let him do everything."

Lind, the Jays' designated hitter, went 0-for-4 yesterday. In his final at-bat he hit into a double play with Wells on first in the eighth inning.

Still, Lind's 12 runs batted in were the most in Jays' history after the first six games of the season, edging the 11 knocked in by Carlos Delgado in 2001. Lind is near the top in plenty of the majors' offensive categories. He leads with 12 RBIs and is tied for third with three home runs and is fifth with 14 hits.

"It's been a good week," Toronto manager Cito Gaston said. "Anytime you can win three of four from Detroit and go onto Cleveland and take two of three.

"The kids are picking us up. It's been a team effort."



NOTES A day after Toronto Blue Jays reliever B.J. Ryan's clumsy outing against the Cleveland Indians, in which he loaded the bases and gave up three runs on a Mark DeRosa double in the ninth inning, Jay manager Cito Gaston said he hasn't wavered in his stance of keeping Ryan as the team's closer. "I'm not afraid to use him again," Gaston said. In his two outings, Ryan has a blown save, a 21.60 earned-run average and only one strikeout. He was given yesterday off after his horrible 32-pitch outing on Saturday. ... Jays shortstop and leadoff hitter Marco Scutaro snapped his six-game hitting streak with a 0-for-3 game.

NEXT Tonight, at Minnesota Twins, 8:10 p.m. ET

PROBABLE PITCHERS Jays RHP Jesse Litsch (0-1) v. Twins RHP Kevin Slowey (1-0)

TV Sportsnet

Tim Wharnsby

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 13, 2009

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