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Walk on the wild side

Walk on the wild side
The Blue Jays lost their second game yesterday, but with five wins in the books, the team can safely say its start to the season has been encouraging.

But while the mood in the clubhouse is comfortable for now, the Jays had to deal with some prospective demons yesterday and realized their solid work through the first week will quickly fade if they fail to overcome them.

Lefty David Purcey struck out 10 in 42/3 innings of work, but walked six - a spate of wildness that saw the Cleveland Indians cash in three of those free passes on their way to an 8-4 win before 14,216 at a sunny but chilly Progressive Field.

Purcey is one of three young pitchers in the starting rotation - with Ricky Romero and Canadian Scott Richmond - whose performance will almost certainly be a key factor in the team's fate this season.

Purcey, who said he had difficulty gripping the ball in the cold, dry weather, walked the leadoff batter in each of the first three innings. Mark DeRosa smacked a two-run homer in the third to put Toronto down 3-0.

The Jays certainly had some fight. An RBI triple by Alex Rios followed by a two-run Vernon Wells homer keyed a three-run sixth that cut the lead to 5-4.

But the downfall for the Jays was the walks. Brandon League walked Victor Martinez in the eighth, then surrendered a 400-foot-plus homer to Travis Hafner that put the finishing touches on the Indians' first win.

Four Toronto pitchers walked 10 batters and that was the biggest factor in the loss, and a source of concern.

"We had a good week, but today was a little disappointing - we had way too many walks," Jays manager Cito Gaston said.

"Even with those walks, we were in the game. Purcey will do that (have hot and cold spells with his control). Two minutes before I took him out of the game, he was right on. Then he lost it again. Hopefully he pitches more like that (in control) because if not, it'll be a long year."

For Cleveland, the result was a big relief. The struggling club, winless in its first five games, flirted with its worst start in 95 years, an 0-6 losing skid to open the 1914 season.

"Obviously we had a good first week, but things could have been better," said Wells, whose homer was his first of the season and upped his RBI count to three.

"(If) we do some things right in certain situations we would have come out better. Games like today are big ones. ... When you're in a place where you haven't played well in the past ( Jays have not swept a series in Cleveland since 2003) ... you have to put the hammer down and sweep the series. But winning our first two series of the season is where we want to be."

The Jays' hitting has flourished, and despite a season-low five hits yesterday, it remains tops in the American League at this early juncture.

Jays pitchers, however, have walked a league-leading 33 batters, which is putting pressure on the offence to maintain the scorching pace it set in the first week, something that will be tough to keep up.

Wells agrees that the Jays must produce a top-rated offence if the team is to stay competitive. A year ago, Toronto posted the league's top team ERA, but was 11th out of 14 teams in runs scored.

"Coming off last year we need to do something on offence regardless of who's on the mound for our team now," Wells said. "If we'd had a decent first half last year, we might have been a different team. So we have a lot to make up now. I don't see our young arms going south. Today was just one of those days, and you move on."

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 13, 2009

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