Not everything was good tonight. Brian Matusz and Brian Roberts were forced out of the game early after being hit by a line drive and fastball, respectively. Josh Bell was batting leadoff. Players were changing positions and dropping pop-ups.
It wasn’t clean and it wasn’t pretty, but it ended with the first win over the Toronto Blue Jays in 13 tries.
“It means we get a chance to try to do it tomorrow,” manager Buck Showalter said when asked about the significance of finally defeating the Blue Jays. “It wasn’t a topic of conversation. Our guys have kind of looked at this like a different two months of the season. I told them, what’s happened before, it’s nobody’s fault. It’s just, we’ve got, I don’t want to say a fresh start, but we have a lot of things we didn’t have before. Some guys are performing like their track record. A lot of those games against them were...we weren’t pitching as well and we didn’t have all the people on the field I have now.”
Showalter removed Matusz as a precaution after the rookie was nailed on the left triceps by Yunel Escobar’s line drive in the first inning.
“It was only going to get worse as the game went on,” Showalter said. “I wasn’t taking a chance at this point - at any point, actually. We’re fortunate this time of year to have a full bullpen.
“We’ll see where Brian fits the next time he’s able to pitch and we’re OK with it, and how it might fit in the rotation. But I don’t see it being anything at this point that’s going to keep him from making another start.”
Brian Roberts’ right leg began to stiffen after he was hit by a Jason Frasor pitch in the eighth.
“We’ll see where he is, a day-to-day thing,” Showalter said.
“Robby wanted to stay in there but I didn’t like what I was seeing. We’ll see where he is tomorrow. More the fleshy part than on the knee, but if you watched the ball, it went straight down. It was pretty flush.”
Also, Julio Lugo has been bothered by headaches the last three days, making him unavailable to play. He saw a specialist earlier tonight.
Rick VandenHurk threw 39 of his 55 pitches for strikes while holding the Jays to one run and two hits over 5 1/3 innings. He retired the first 12 batters he faced while making his first appearance since Sept. 2.
“It’s a tribute to him and Kranny and the work they do to keep him sharp in the 10 days since he’s pitched in a game, I believe,” Showalter said. “That was impressive.”