Blue Jays unload on Rangers hurlers
Lind, Barajas combine for 4 homers, 13 RBIs in 18-10 thrashing in Texas
The Blue Jays took out two weeks of frustration at the plate Monday night against a pitcher Toronto brass was said to be eyeing as a future ace to replace Roy Halladay.
Texas rookie left-hander and losing pitcher Derek Holland, who reportedly was the centrepiece of Halladay trade talks leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, was lit up for 10 runs (all earned) on seven hits in three-plus innings.
He surrendered two home runs for the second consecutive start, a three-run homer by Rod Barajas and grand slam off the bat of left-fielder Adam Lind, who finished an 18-10 Blue Jays rout with two dingers, a double, eight runs batted in and three runs scored.
"You know you have to outslug these guys. They came back tonight and showed why they're in the hunt for the playoffs," Lind said. "I hit it on the sweet spot on a couple of pitches."
Lind extended his hitting streak to 12 games during which he is averaging .373 with three homers and 15 RBI. He also has 42 doubles and 27 home runs on the season to become the first Blue Jay since Vernon Wells (2006) to join the 40-25 club.
The eight runs drive in on Monday matched Florida's Josh Willingham for the highest single-game output in the major leagues this season and fell one shy of the Blue Jays record held by Roy Howell since 1977.
Barajas stays hot in Texas
The Rod Barajas Home Run Tour made another successful stop on Monday, this time in Texas.
A former catcher with the Rangers, Barajas haunted his old club with a two-homer effort as part of a 14-hit attack in a 18-10 Toronto Blue Jays win.
The 33-year-old, who went deep in Boston on the weekend, hit a three-run blast in a five-run first inning at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and led off the fifth with a 438-foot blast into the Toronto bullpen in left-centre.
In all, Barajas drove in five runs to give him 60 RBIs on the season, matching his career high established in 2005 while playing for the Rangers. The 16 homers are five shy of his personal best, also achieved in the 2005 season.
Monday's effort was Barajas's seventh career multi-homer game and second of the season versus Texas. He has five home runs in his past six games and is averaging .400 (8-for-20) in that span.
In 103 games this season, Barajas is hitting .244 with an on-base percentage of .275.
Lind has enjoyed his two visits to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington this season — three games remain in this week's series — with five of his eight hits in 17 at-bats (.471) clearing the fence. He has driven in 14 runs in those four games.
Toronto's offence arrived in Texas in the midst of a two-week slump, having averaged 3.7 runs and a .245 batting average in the previous 14 outings.
"We finally score some runs and can't hold it," Blue Jays manager Cito Caston said. "If you walk away losing this game, what a shame."
But after chasing Holland in the fourth inning, Toronto hitters scored on three of four relief pitchers: Doug Mathis, Jason Grilli and Pedro Strop. Darren O'Day blanked the Blue Jays in his two innings of work, striking out three.
Defensive specialist John McDonald took advantage of a rare start at third base and chipped in with three hits, while Aaron Hill and Wells added two hits apiece.
Wells, who has underperformed at the plate for much of the 2009 campaign, also turned in the defensive play of the night. With Toronto clinging to an 11-9 lead in the seventh inning, he leaped high against the centre-field fence to rob Chris Davis of a three-run home run off Scott Downs.
Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston was forced to call on his closer in the seventh with Texas threatening to erase an 11-0 deficit.
"We put ourselves in the position to make a push there at the end. You have to give credit, they piled on [seven] runs in the ninth," said Texas third baseman Michael Young, who extended his majors-best hitting streak to 18 games overall with a single in the fourth inning. "We don't really consider this to be a deflating loss."
The Rangers' eighth defeat in the past 26 home games dropped them four games behind the American League wild card-leading Boston Red Sox.
Rookie Toronto starter Brett Cecil took the mound in the bottom of the fifth inning with a commanding 11-0 advantage, but returned to the dugout with just a four-run lead.
"No lead is comfortable here. You have to produce," said Barajas. "Once we got to 11 runs, I was hoping it would be good. … We were lucky to hang on."
Cecil continues to be hurt by the long ball. Nelson Cruz connected for his 29th homer of the season, the 14th yielded by the Blue Jays left-hander in 83 innings, but Cecil hung around long enough to record his sixth victory against three losses.
The teams will play a day-night doubleheader on Tuesday starting at 5 p.m. ET, with Brian Tallet (5-8) facing Dustin Nippert (4-2) in Game 1. Marc Rzepczynski (2-3) takes the mound for Toronto in the nightcap against Brandon McCarthy (5-2).
With files from The Associated Press