TORONTO – Jason Frasor was going to do his very best to forget a night worth remembering.
The Toronto Blue Jays had filled Rogers Centre to capacity for their home-opener on Monday, the team’s annual reminder of how the stadium sounded during the glory years. Fans were animated and loud, set to explode right up until the moment Frasor would like to forget, the 0-2 fastball that caught too much of the plate.
Chicago White Sox third baseman Mark Teahen sent Frasor’s pitch over the fence in left field, dashing the closer’s ninth-inning save attempt and sending the game into extras, where the Blue Jays ultimately lost.
Toronto fell 8-7 to Chicago in 11 innings, snapping the team’s unexpected five-game winning streak and sending Frasor home for a quiet night without sports television.
“I think it’s my nature to think about it a little bit – it’s hard not to,” Frasor said. “But, uh, I won’t be watching sports highlights tonight, that’s for sure.”
Andruw Jones hit two home runs for the White Sox, moving past Johnny Bench and into a tie with Graig Nettles for 50th among baseball’s all-time home run leaders, with 390. Jeremy Accardo was saddled with the loss for Toronto, having allowed Teahen – a dual Canadian and American citizen – to drive in the go-ahead run with a triple in the 11th.
Toronto threatened to rally in the bottom half of the inning, but fell just short with the tying run on second and the winning run on first.
“One thing we will do, we’re all going to battle, and we’re not going to give up one single out,” said Blue Jays starter Brian Tallet, who allowed six runs off eight hits in six innings of work. “We’re not going to just fold, and that’s something that you might not have always been able to say. But I see it in this clubhouse.
“We’re going to be able to grind this thing out – and I think we’re going to be able to win some ball games.”
The Blue Jays announced the attendance as a sellout, at 46,321, and many in the crowd had been busying themselves with focused jeering of former Toronto right-fielder Alex Rios, who was claimed on waivers by Chicago last August. Teahen finished 3-for-5 with three runs batted in, but Rios – who went 3-for-5, with a run scored – was the undisputed villain.
“I wasn’t surprised,” Rios said. “They were loud, but that’s a good thing, it gets you going.”
The Blue Jays had rolled back into Canada with what could be viewed as found money – wins in five of their first six regular season games, including a sweep of the Baltimore Orioles. The pitching staff had posted a collective 2.70 earned-run average, with the starters going 2-0.
Tallet recorded one of those wins after clawing his way into the starting rotation in spring training. The tall left-hander stumbled early in the home-opener, though, and needed help to prevent the whole team from stumbling alongside.
Jones gave the White Sox a 2-0 lead when he hammered a pitch into the first row of seats beyond the left field fence in the second inning and drove in another run in the third. His second home run of the game in the top of the sixth.
Toronto’s offence spared the home crowd from what might otherwise have threatened to become a blowout, answering Chicago’s opening two-run volley with one of its own in the bottom of the second.
Catcher John Buck, playing in his first home stand with the Blue Jays, sent the first pitch he saw over into the fourth deck in left field to score Lyle Overbay and tie the game.
The Blue Jays answered again after the White Sox took a 4-2 lead in the third inning. Designated hitter Adam Lind singled to right field to score Jose Bautista and Alex Gonzalez – and was driven home himself on the very next pitch when Vernon Wells sent starter Jake Peavy over the wall in left-centre field.
Peavy left the game in the sixth, heading to the showers with eight hits and seven earned runs on his statistical line.
Toronto took a 7-6 lead when Lind walked with the bases loaded in the sixth to score Edwin Encarnacion.
“It wasn’t really the younger guys who made the mistakes, it was just that we threw some pitches where we shouldn’t have,” Buck said. “We know that, but it’s part of baseball, too.”
NOTES: A parade of Canadian Olympic medal winners received a standing ovation before the game, with the loudest cheers reserved for Alexandre Bilodeau, the first athlete to win gold on home soil. Bilodeau, who won the men’s moguls event at the Vancouver Olympics, highlighted a crowd that also included women’s bobsleigh gold medallist Kaillie Humphries and members of Canada’s women’s hockey team. … Toronto is hoping to announce the signing of Cuban shortstop prospect Adeiny Hechavarria within the next few days.