MLB

Blue Jays bats quiet again as Indians win in extra innings

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The Canadian Press
4/4/2013 12:06:52 AM
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TORONTO -- It's not quite time to plaster the Blue Jays' offence on the side of a milk carton, but Toronto bats have largely gone missing to open the season.

At the wrong end of a second straight quality Cleveland pitching performance, Toronto fell to 0-2 Wednesday after Mark Reynolds homered off Sergio Santos in the 11th inning to lift the Indians to a 3-2 win.

The Indians (2-0) took the opener 4-1 Tuesday, with Toronto managing just four hits. The Jays collected five hits Wednesday but only Maicer Izturis and Jose Bautista, who both homered, made it past first base.

Toronto, despite its expensive makeover, has yet to lead in its two outings.

"This team is built to score runs. We haven't done that yet but we're going to hit," said Toronto manager John Gibbons. "But that's basically been the difference in the games."

Toronto's 0-2 start is the worst since the team opened the 2004 campaign with three straight losses.

Reynolds, the Cleveland designated hitter, was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts prior to the solo shot off Santos (0-1), the Jays' sixth pitcher on the night, to lead off the 11th.

"That's baseball," said Santos. "A poorly located pitch and he did his job."

Melky Cabrera, Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion -- the heart of the Jays' lineup -- were unable to respond in the bottom of the 11th with right-hander Joe Smith on the mound.

Bautista homered with one out in the ninth to force extra innings. Prior to his solo shot over the left-field fence off closer Chris Perez, Bautista had hit into two double plays and flied out.

"You had that good feeling (after the Bautista homer) but nothing ever really developed after that," Gibbons said.

"We just need to get some more base-runners on and get a big hit," he added. "Maybe to plate two runs and that should make a difference. That way everyone can breathe easier. You know as a pitcher when you're not scoring -- and it's only been two games -- you live and die with every pitch you make."

Michael Brantley went 4-for-5, driving in one run and scoring the go-ahead on a Izturis error in the eighth inning, to help Cleveland take a 2-1 lead. The other Indians collectively had six hits.

After Darren Oliver walked Nick Swisher to open the eighth, Brantley singled. Izturis, who had earlier homered for Toronto, made a good stab on a Carlos Santana shot to force Swisher at third. But Izturis' long throw to first for the double play was errant and Brantley scored.

It was the fifth four-hit game of the outfielder's career. Brantley's father Mickey played in the majors and was once the Jays' hitting coach.

After an Opening Day sellout of 48,857, Game No. 2 drew 24,619 to the Rogers Centre.

The game was a pitching duel between Toronto's Brandon Morrow and Ubaldo Jimenez through six innings.

Morrow probably deserved a better fate after going six innings and giving up one run on six hits -- several of the chintzy kind. He walked two and struck out eight in a 100-pitch, 62-strike performance that saw Cleveland hitters go 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

The right-hander also showed off some nifty fielding on a couple of occasions.

Jimenez also went six innings, giving up one run on three hits while striking out six and walking two.

The teams traded runs in the third, with Cleveland scoring first.

Izturis then became the first Jay to homer this season, an unlikely choice given that the five-foot-eight, 170-pound Venezuelan only hit two in 100 games for the Angels last season. He entered the season averaging a home run every 77th at-bat over his career.

Morrow came out throwing hard, clocking 99 m.p.h. in the first inning. But his control was spotty, needing 24 pitches (including 12 strikes) to dismiss the Indians in an inning that opened with a strikeout and walk.

"I was a little jacked up in the first," Morrow said.

Cabrera helped his pitcher's cause, crashing into the left-field fence to haul in a Jason Kipnis fly ball.

Morrow found his groove in the second despite opening with two singles. He struck out the next three in an inning that saw him throw 16 pitches including 13 strikes.

But he was unable to pitch out of trouble in the third after putting men on base with a double and walk. With two out, Brantley singled Michael Bourn home for a 1-0 Cleveland lead before Morrow ended the charge with his second strikeout of the inning. Bourn had kicked things off with a double that went over Izturis at third base.

Izturis -- batting eighth -- took matters into his own hands in the bottom of the third, hammering a Jimenez delivery over the right field fence.

After giving up two singles with one out in the sixth, Morrow escaped when Reynolds hit into a double play.

Steve Delabar, Oliver, Esmil Rogers, Casey Janssen and Santos followed Morrow.

Bryan Shaw came on in the seventh for Cleveland, followed by Vinnie Pestano, Perez, Rich Hill, Matt Albers (1-0) and Smith, who got the save.

"There's 160 more (games)," said Santos. "We still feel good about our chances."

Earlier, Gibbons said Henry Blanco will catch knuckleballer R.A. Dickey's next start although he noted it had nothing to do with J.P. Arencibia's three passed balls in the opener.

Mark Reynolds  (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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