TORONTO – Rookie left-hander Marc Rzepczynski didn’t do himself any favours with his wildness on the mound, and some sloppiness in the field ended up hurting his cause, too.
The end result was a 5-4 loss for the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday afternoon, as they dropped the rubber match of a three-game set with the Cleveland Indians.
A Lyle Overbay error in the ninth inning Tuesday opened the door for a rally that led to a 2-1 Cleveland win, and this time it was Jose Bautista’s error that was pivotal in the decisive three-run fifth.
“We pretty much gave away (two games) as far as we played on defence,” lamented manager Cito Gaston. “We didn’t pitch very well either … but if we play good defence we win the ball game, as well as the first ball game we played against them. That is something we really haven’t done this year, give away ball games.
“I’m not too happy with that.”
Rzepczynski (1-2), making his fourth big-league start, was again plagued by wildness, walking four batters and hitting another in 4 1-3 innings of work. He also gave up three hits but six strikeouts helped him limit the damage to four runs, two earned.
He might have gotten away with less if not for the error by Bautista, who let a ball skip through him at third base. Asdrubal Cabrera’s grounder might have resulted in an inning-ending double play but instead ended up in left field and put runners on the second and third with one out.
Shin-soo Choo followed with a triple to bring both home and after Shawn Camp came on in relief, scored on Victor Martinez’s grounder for a 4-1 lead Cleveland never relinquished.
“My control has been the issue so far,” said Rzepczynski. “When I’ve gotten in trouble it’s basically getting myself in trouble. For me today, not being to throw a fastball for a strike got to me.”
Aaron Hill clubbed a two-run homer in the bottom of the frame as the Blue Jays (47-49) pulled close but never got level in their 15th loss in 21 games. They also missed out on another chance to get back to .500 before a crowd of 32,061.
They open a series with the visiting Tampa Bay Rays on Friday in what could be ace Roy Halladay’s last start as a Blue Jay. GM J.P. Ricciardi revealed Thursday that Halladay is intent on testing free agency once his contract expires in 2010, which is driving trade talks for the right-hander.
Chris Gimenez added some insurance with an RBI groundout in the sixth and rookie David Huff (5-4) allowed four runs in 7 2-3 innings for the Indians (38-58), who did some dealing themselves when they sent reliever Rafael Betancourt to Colorado for minor-league righty Connor Graham after the game.
“It’s a sad moment for me now right now but I have to be a professional and keep playing,” said Betancourt.
Huff left the game after allowing Kevin Millar’s two-out solo blast in the eighth that made it a 5-4 game. Joe Smith closed out that frame before Kerry Wood finished things off in the ninth for his 13th save, despite hitting Alex Rios in the head with a curveball to open the frame.
Rios stole his way to third but was stranded there as pinch-hitter Lyle Overbay went down looking to end it.
Rzepczynski, the fifth Blue Jays starter to make his big-league debut this season, looked strong through three before losing the plate in the fourth. He followed a Cabrera single by hitting Choo and walking Martinez and Ben Francisco to bring home a run.
“He didn’t pitch that bad,” said Gaston. “I still see some progress in this kid.”
The Blue Jays tied it 1-1 in the bottom of the fourth when Adam Lind and Millar hit consecutive doubles.
Notes: Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston gave Marco Scutaro a partial day off, starting him at DH instead of shortstop. That gave John McDonald a rare start. Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi said there was “lots of interest” in Scutaro. … Casey Janssen (shoulder) faced five batters and failed to record an out during a rehab outing Wednesday for double-A New Hampshire. He allowed three hits and a walk, and another batter reached on his throwing error, and gave up four runs, three earned. … Gaston revealed that Dustin McGowan, recovering from shoulder surgery in Dunedin, Fla., underwent knee surgery July 9 after hurting himself while running. Recovery time is about six weeks. …OF David Dellucci was designated for assignment Thursday, while infielder Joe Inglett was recalled from Las Vegas.