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News » Tigers strike fast, hand Jays first loss


Tigers strike fast, hand Jays first loss


Tigers strike fast, hand Jays first loss
It's not as if the Blue Jays didn't have opportunities.

Down 3-0 to the Detroit Tigers in the first inning last night, they scored once on doubles from Marco Scutaro and Aaron Hill. A single and a walk later, they had the bases loaded with none out against Tigers starter Zach Miner.

But then an Adam Lind grounder led to a forceout at home. The next batter, Scott Rolen, lifted a fly ball to right fielder Josh Anderson, who made the catch and delivered on target to home plate, nailing Alex Rios.

Double play, inning over, opportunity squandered in a 5-1 loss.

Instead of their first 3-0 start since 1996, the Jays send major-league debutant Ricky Romero to the mound today to preserve a series win.

Nevertheless, manager Cito Gaston doesn't regret Rios' attempt to score on the fly ball.

"I'll take my chances doing that every night and see what happens," Gaston said. "We want to stay aggressive. That's the game we're going to have to play this year. ... It's just one of those things that happened. (Anderson) made a great throw."

Starter Jesse Litsch lasted six innings and gave up five earned runs, including three homers, a lacklustre opener for a pitcher hoping to continue the brilliance he showed at times last year.

When Litsch returned to the Jays last August after a minor-league assignment, he began the nine-game stretch that had Gaston so optimistic heading into this season, going 5-2 with a 1.92 ERA.

Last night was Litsch's first outing against a full lineup of major leaguers since that dominant run last August and September.

This spring, he entered training camp as one of just two proven big-league starters in Toronto's five-man rotation, then spent most of March pitching in minor-league games as the team auditioned Romero, Scott Richmond and Brad Mills.

Litsch pitched last Friday against the Florida Marlins, but even then he faced a patchwork lineup of established pros and minor-league prospects. He lasted 42/3 innings that night, surrendering six hits and two runs while throwing only 52 of his 92 pitches for strikes.

Last night, he again struggled early.

After leadoff hitter Curtis Granderson grounded out, Placido Polanco and Magglio Ordonez both hit singles. The next batter, first baseman Miguel Cabrera, sent Litsch's first pitch over the left-field fence for a three-run homer.

Still, Litsch dismissed suggestions that a spring training spent pitching against minor leaguers contributed to his shaky first inning.

"I came in here ready today with my full arsenal," he said. "There's no looking back at spring training and saying, 'I wish I woulda, I wish I woulda.' I was ready to go and they got the best of me tonight."

At times, Litsch looked more like the pitcher the Jays are depending on to stabilize a group of fairly raw starters. Though he gave up three early runs, Litsch issued only one walk through six innings and a fourth-inning fastball shattered shortstop Ramon Santiago's bat.

But an inning later, Cabrera hit his second home run of the game, a huge shot that hit a window beyond the centre-field fence. And in the sixth, Brandon Inge became the first Tiger in 55 years to homer in the first three games of the season.

That shot further quieted an already dormant crowd.

Tuesday night the Rogers Centre banned beer while serving a liquor licence suspension and attendance dipped by nearly 32,000 compared with opening night.

Alcohol returned last night, but spectators - and their enthusiasm - remained scarce.

Only 12,145 fans showed up and they made so little noise that the crack of the bat could be heard as well as the echo.

mcampbell @ thestar.ca


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 9, 2009

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