Jays snap home skid
TORONTO—R.A. Dickey, his knuckleball moving like the noggin on his bobblehead giveaway, gave the Toronto Blue Jays a sorely-needed quality start yesterday.
And the rest of the team also stepped up, with Brett Lawrie and Edwin Encarnacion combining to drive in four runs in a 7-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox.
The Jays, who had given up 36 runs on 47 hits and 22 walks during the four-game slide, badly-needed a change of direction.
Dickey said a talk by manager John Gibbons after Saturday’s 7-6 loss—when a Jays’ comeback fell just short—had done the trick.
“He was just so encouraging,” said Dickey, who got the win on his first major-league bobblehead giveaway day.
“I think everybody left the clubhouse feeling at ease about who we are as a team.
“So we just needed to come out today and be ourselves,” he noted. “And we were able to do that.
“We fought hard,” Dickey added. “Guys were getting dirty, diving for balls, taking the extra base.
“I was able to throw strikes and we had a great team win today.”
“It was a much-needed win, I will definitely say,” said Gibbons.
On a weekend where racism in sports made headlines thanks to L.A. Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling, the Jays made Major League Baseball history with a record six Dominicans in the starting lineup: Encarnacion, Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera, Jose Bautista, Juan Francisco, and Moises Sierra.
The Dominicans signed the lineup card, which Bautista said was going to be sent to the Dominican Museum of Baseball.
“It was an honour to be part of that today,” said Reyes.
An announced sell-out of 45,260 at the Rogers Centre saw Dickey outduel Jon Lester, with Lawrie providing the early offence before the Jays put the game away with two runs in the seventh and three more in the eighth.
Lawrie, who entered the game hitting .165 but leading the team in RBIs, drove in two runs with a homer and double to increase his RBI total to 20.
Meanwhile, Dickey (2-3) scattered five hits over 6 1/3 innings, giving up just one run and striking out six.
Walks have been a thorn in the Jays’ side. Toronto pitchers had issued 108 free passes going into play yesterday—second-worst in the majors—with Dickey tied for the MLB lead with 18.
But Dickey was in control yesterday. He threw 95 pitches, including 62 strikes, and didn’t issue a walk for the first time since October, 2012.
“When I have one to zero to two walks, it’s usually going to be a pretty good day,” he remarked.
“And that’s what I have to get back to and today was a step in that direction.”
Relievers Steve Delabar and Esmil Rogers closed out the game for Toronto, which outhit Boston 9-6.
Lester (2-4) deserved better from his seven innings. He gave up four runs on five hits, striking out seven and walking none.
He threw 120 pitches—80 for strikes—as Boston (12-14) was denied its first sweep of Toronto since June 10-12, 2011.
The Boston left-hander came into the game with a 15-7 career mark against Toronto, having held the Jays to a .199 batting average.
It was the first win for Dickey since April 5 and came after three starts in which he went 0-2 with 13 walks in 13 1/3 innings.
He used his fastball more than usual, knowing that Boston led the league in pitches seen.
“So I knew they were probably going to be patient,” Dickey said.
“And nothing’s worse than seeing a fastball down the middle from a knuckleball pitcher and letting it go,” he added.
Elsewhere in the AL, Kansas City upended Baltimore 9-3, Houston beat Oakland 5-1, Chicago dumped Tampa Bay 9-2, Seattle topped Texas 6-5, and New York edged L.A. 3-2
Detroit at Minnesota was postponed.
Over in the NL, San Diego doubled Washington 4-2, New York beat Miami 4-0, Atlanta edged Cincinnati 1-0 (10 innings) Chicago blanked Milwaukee 4-0, St. Louis dumped Pittsburgh 7-0, Colorado downed L.A. 6-1, and Philadelphia shaded Arizona 2-0.
San Francisco beat Cleveland 4-1 in interleague play.