Wells drives in four as Blue Jays take series from Yankees

The Canadian Press
8/26/2010 12:37:13 AM
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TORONTO -- When Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Brett Cecil broke into the majors last season he admits to being in awe when facing the New York Yankees. Not anymore.

Cecil, who grew up a diehard Yankees fan, threw eight strong innings against them in a 6-3 victory Wednesday before a crowd of 31,449 at Rogers Centre.

He has faced the Yankees three times this season and is 2-0 with a 1.64 earned-run average against his boyhood heroes.

"When I'm on the mound you have to forget about that stuff," said Cecil (11-6), who hails from Dunkirk, Md., but grew up supporting the Yankees.

"It's my job now. It doesn't feel like that, obviously, it's doing something I love."

Centre-fielder Vernon Wells gave him all the support he needed, driving in four runs with a homer, triple and a single against Phil Hughes (15-6), falling a double short of becoming the third Blue Jay to hit for the cycle.

Wells' 23rd homer of the season was his first since Aug. 3 as the Blue Jays took the rubber match of a three-game series. Aaron Hill also hit his 19th homer for the Blue Jays against reliever Javier Vazquez in the fifth to end a 0-for-20 drought.

Cecil held the Yankees to two runs on seven hits -- including a two-run homer by Marcus Thames -- and two walks while striking out five. He is 7-1 with a 2.14 ERA in nine starts against American League East teams this season.

The Blue Jays lead the Yankees 7-5 in the season series with six games left between the AL East rivals.

"These guys definitely get overlooked," outfielder Brett Gardner said of the Blue Jays. "They've got some good arms, not only in the rotation but in the bullpen. They've got some guys in the lineup who are swinging the bats well and sometimes we have trouble getting them out."

Hughes lasted only 3 2/3 innings and allowed five runs, six hits and five walks.

Jason Frasor started the ninth for Toronto after Cecil finished his outing with 106 pitches. Frasor allowed a pair of two-out walks. Kevin Gregg came in to get his 29th save despite giving up a run-scoring single to Eduardo Nunez and loading the bases by hitting Derek Jeter with a 3-2 pitch.

Cecil says his grandfather is a Yankees fan and he was "brainwashed" because New York was the team he watched on TV, not the Orioles, despite being from Maryland.

"I kind of got over that hump of 'Wow it's A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez), it's Jeter,' you know," the left-hander said. "It's definitely changed from that aspect."

"He's probably pitched as well as anybody on this club," manager Cito Gaston said. "He feels like he belongs here. He's got some confidence going.

"He comes through the dugout before he starts and gives you the fist bump and nearly broke my hand one time. I'm always looking to make sure it's his right hand, not his left hand. He gets me pretty hard sometimes. Last year he wasn't like that."

"The biggest thing around here is to continue to get better," Wells said. "Brett's been another example of that, a young guy coming up and proving himself."

The Blue Jays scored twice in the first, forcing Hughes to use 27 pitches. Wells tripled to right centre to score Fred Lewis who led off with a walk and took second on Yunel Escobar's sacrifice. Wells scored on a passed ball. Adam Lind then singled to make the run earned.

"I was exhausted after the first at-bat," Wells said. "I'm too old to be hitting triples in the first."

The Yankees left the bases loaded in the second after Thames' one-out double, Austin Kearns' two-out walk and an infield hit by Gardner. But Nunez grounded to Cecil to end the threat.

Wells homered after Jose Bautista's one-out walk in the third to put the Blue Jays ahead 4-0.

The Yankees struck back with a two-run homer by Thames in the fourth on the first pitch after Robinson Cano's leadoff double.

But the Blue Jays answered with one run in the home fourth on Wells' infield single to second. Two walks and a single loaded the bases. Cano fielded Wells' hard grounder up the middle and flipped to second too late to force Bautista at second.

It came on the 102nd pitch for Hughes and he was replaced by Vazquez who has been moved from the starting rotation to the bullpen.

Wells hit a fly to the warning track in left in the sixth, his final at-bat of the game as he tried to become the first Blue Jay to hit for the cycle since Jeff Frye in 2001. Kelly Gruber was the first in 1989.

"I was thinking about it but I just got a ball off the end of the bat in my fourth at-bat," Wells said. "Maybe next time."

Notes: Yankees right-fielder Nick Swisher was a late scratch from Wednesday's game. He fouled a ball off his left knee in Tuesday`s 11-5 Yankee win....Hill batted eighth for the first time this season on Wednesday. Manager Cito Gaston was hoping the move might take some pressure off Hill and help him relax. Hill walked in his first two plate appearances before hitting his homer....The Detroit Tigers visit the Blue Jays for four games starting Thursday when Max Scherzer (9-9, 3.73 earned-run average) opposes Ricky Romero (10-7, 3.50 ERA).

Vernon Wells (Photo: The Canadian Press)


(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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