Blue Jays bats awaken after lineup shuffle in 5-0 win over Cardinals
A lineup shuffle pushing Adam Lind down to fifth and Aaron Hill to sixth put some life back into the Toronto Blue Jays offence on Thursday.
TORONTO - A lineup shuffle pushing Adam Lind down to fifth and Aaron Hill to sixth put some life back into the Toronto Blue Jays offence on Thursday.
Lind was 2-for-4, including his ninth home run of the season, and Hill was 1-for-4 in a 5-0 interleague victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Vernon Wells, who has slumped in June, remained fourth in the batting order and woke up in a big way, driving in three runs with his 17th and 18th home runs of season, two of Toronto's 10 hits.
Brandon Morrow (5-5) had all the support he needed as he held the Cardinals (40-32) to five hits and one walk while striking out eight over eight innings.
"I guess it worked pretty good for Lind tonight," said manager Cito Gaston. "I think the story tonight is Lind, also Vernon, and Morrow, what a game he pitched. Good control, changing speeds up and down on his fastball."
In adjusting the lineup, Gaston dropped Hill from the two spot and Lind from the three hole, while bumping up Alex Gonzalez and Jose Bautista to replace them.
Lind responded to the change right away with a first-inning homer that followed a two-run blast by Wells, as the Blue Jays (39-34) salvaged one win from the three-game interleague series before 12,392 at Rogers Centre.
The Blue Jays earned their win against a good starter, Adam Wainwright (10-5). He allowed all three homers and six hits and five runs, four earned, in four innings. It was his shortest outing since Sept. 13, 2008, at Pittsburgh when he also went four innings. He had gone at least five innings in 51 consecutive starts.
“It was just one of those days,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “He doesn’t have them very often, he had one today."
Morrow, who called it his best game, has consistently performed well since taking a little off his pitches. He won for the first time since May 31.
"I wouldn't say its the best I’ve ever felt but yeah, it's the best game I've pitched, eight shutout innings," said Morrow. "I'm kind of in that cruise mode. I've been able to figure out calm and intensity level where I’m just kind of cruising and if I get into a little jam, I can turn it up a little bit or dial it back down."
Morrow has allowed just eight earned runs over his past six starts.
"This kid is just going to get better all the time," Gaston said. "We're talking No. 1 or 2 starter one of these days as far as rotation. I mean, he's got that kind of stuff."
Hill and Lind have batted second and third this season and last, but Gaston, who usually favours a set lineup, thought it was time for a change, and not a short-term one, either.
"I'm going to use it for a while," he said. "And if somebody gets hot I'll move them down."
Both have struggled this year after productive 2009 seasons. Hill batted .286 with 36 homers and 108 RBIs last season and entered Thursday batting .187 with 10 homers and 27 RBIs.
Lind batted .305 with 35 homers and 114 RBIs but entered Thursday at .207 with eight homers and 33 RBIs.
Bautista’s two-out single in the first preceded Wells’ homer. Lind followed with his ninth of the season. The Blue Jays scored an unearned run in the second on an error by second baseman Aaron Miles, Jose Molina’s double and a sacrifice fly by Fred Lewis. Wells homered again with one out in the third.
The Blue Jays, who lost 1-0 on Wednesday to one of their former starting pitchers, Chris Carpenter, face another Friday night in Roy Halladay when they open a three-game series against the Phillies in Philadelphia.
The series was moved from Toronto to Philadelphia because of the G20 summit.
“He's going to be a tough opponent," Gaston said. "It doesn't matter where we're playing, here or there."
Home plate umpire Tony Randazzo was knocked down when struck on the collarbone by a foul ball in the top of the eighth inning. He was tended to as he lay on the ground behind home but was able to continue.
Notes: Jesse Litsch (0-1, 6.75 earned-run average) will face Halladay (8-6, 2.43 ERA) on Friday. Saturday it will be Shaun Marcum (6-3, 3.24 ERA) against Cole Hamels (6-6, 3.75 ERA) and Sunday it will be Brett Cecil (7-4, 4.06 ERA) against Jamie Moyer (8-6, 4.43 ERA). ... Toronto will be the home team in the series and the DH will be used. ... Gaston said he has a pendant and a ring to present to Halladay for being in the Blue Jays organization for 15 years. ... That series ends the Blue Jays interleague schedule and they follow it with visits to Cleveland and New York.