TORONTO – There’s very little about a September matchup between the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles that captures the imagination, something reflected in another disturbingly small audience at the Rogers Centre on Monday night.
David Purcey pitched 7 2-3 strong innings to earn his first win of the season while Adam Lind pushed his RBI total to 106 with a two-run single in the third inning of a 9-2 Toronto victory before a crowd of 11,598.
The tiny gathering to open the Blue Jays’ final homestand of 2009 was their third smallest ever at the dome, with each sparse crowd coming in the last three home games. An all-time dome low of 11,159 took in a 4-1 loss to Minnesota on Sept. 9, with 11,461 taking in the following day’s 3-2 win over the Twins.
With only two more home dates versus the uninspiring Orioles and four with the vanilla Seattle Mariners remaining, the record low of 10,074 set at Exhibition Stadium on April 17, 1979 is far from safe.
“Fans were coming out when we were winning, they were supporting us,” manager Cito Gaston said before the game. “I think that’s what we have to do, we have to put a winning club out there on the field and I think they’ll come back. Simple as that.”
There’s very little that’s intriguing about the Blue Jays (67-83) right now as they play out the string on a miserable season beyond watching for second baseman Aaron Hill to crack the century mark in RBIs (he’s at 98), and outfielder Travis Snider continue to plant his feet in the majors (he had a two-run single, bases loaded walk and three strikeouts).
Purcey (1-2) did his part to end his team’s four-game losing streak and plant some seeds for 2010 with a second straight solid outing since rejoining the team from triple-A Las Vegas.
The left-hander opened the season with the Blue Jays but was sent down after five mediocre April starts in which he was plagued by control problems. He allowed just one earned run in 5 2-3 innings versus the Tigers last week and was even better Monday.
The Orioles (60-90), who have lost five straight but are at least working in a slew of talented youngsters in this latest train-wreck season, nicked Purcey for a run in the second on Felix Pie’s RBI single and then looked to be in October mode from then on out.
The Blue Jays started roughing up Chris Tillman (2-4), one of Baltimore’s top prospects, in the third, as Lind squeezed his two-run single up the middle and Snider walked with the bases full to bring in another.
Lyle Overbay homered leading off the sixth to end Tillman’s night and John McDonald added another solo blast later in the inning off Cla Meredith to make it a 5-1 contest. Two-run singles by Edwin Encarnacion and Snider in the eighth further cemented things.
Pie added a sacrifice fly in the ninth off Jason Frasor.
Purcey walked only two batters through the first 7 2-3 before walking a pair and giving up a single in the eighth to load the bases. But Shawn Camp picked him up, getting Melvin Mora on a grounder to end the frame.
The victory was his first since Sept. 7, 2008, when he threw eight shutout innings versus Tampa Bay.
Notes: Blue Jays SS Marco Scutaro is likely done for the season with a plantar fascia tear in his right heel. GM J.P. Ricciardi says the injury isn’t career-threatening and shouldn’t need surgery to fix, although it will “probably” end what has been a career year for the 33-year-old. … Jays reliever Scott Downs (right hamstring) remains day-to-day but with the season’s end looming, is running out of time to return. … Lefty Brian Tallet (right foot) will make his start Tuesday against Baltimore after coming out of a throwing session Sunday fine. Former Jay Mark Hendrickson starts for Baltimore. … Brian Roberts fouled the game’s third pitch right into Jays catcher Kyle Phillips’ groin. Phillips stayed in the game.