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Blue Jays get first home win, beat Rays 12-7

Written By doni icha on Kamis, 16 April 2015 | 22.49

Even though he's a rookie, Devon Travis has had little trouble recognizing that he is in a really good situation with the Blue Jays.

Jose Bautista, Travis and rookie Dalton Pompey homered to back Mark Buehrle, Kevin Pillar made a leaping catch at the left-field wall to deny a home run and Toronto beat Tampa Bay 12-7 Wednesday night to stop the Rays' four-game winning streak.

"It's just a really fun lineup and it's great to be a part of it," said Travis, who had three hits and two RBIs. It was the first multihit game of his career.

Bautista hit a two-run homer in the first off Erasmo Ramirez (0-2), sparking the Blue Jays to what would be an 9-0 lead after four innings. Donaldson hit a two-run single in a three-run second after narrowly missing a grand slam down the left-field line.

"Again, I was just having trouble with the location," said Ramirez, who gave up nine runs — seven earned — eight hits and three walks, needing 91 pitches to get 10 outs. He has a 23.63 ERA.

Pillar and Travis added RBI singles in the third, and Justin Smoak singled in two runs in the fourth — his first RBIs for the Blue Jays.

Pillar climbed the left-field wall and jumped at full extension with his glove 6 inches above the top of the fence to deny Tim Beckham a home run in the seventh.

"I'm pretty amazed by it," said Pillar, who also had two hits and an RBI. "I watched it a couple times on my phone when I got in. It's going to be tough to top making a play like that in my career.

"I'm just thankful I had an opportunity to rob a home run in the big leagues," he added.

Donaldson had three hits and three RBIs before a crowd of 15,086, the Blue Jays' smallest at the Rogers Centre since 14,086 against Cleveland last May 14, according to STATS.

Buehrle (2-0) allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings to gain his 201st win. Steven Souza Jr. hit a solo home run in the fifth, Mikie Mahtook had a two-run homer in the sixth for his first career hit,

"Buehrle is just out there to win," said Jays manager John Gibbons. "He doesn't get caught up in stats, or quality starts, it's all about winning. It's why he's had the career he has."

Ramirez (0-1) gave up nine runs — seven earned — eight hits and three walks, needing 91 pitches to get 10 outs. He has a 23.63 ERA.

Toronto had been held to three runs in two losses open the four-game series, the Blue Jays' first at home this season.

Souza hit a two-run single against Todd Redmond in a four-run ninth.

"It seems like those just misses are becoming just connections now," Rays manager Kevin Cash said of Souza, who hit back-to-back homers for the first time in his career. "It's good to see."

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Kevin Pillar climbs fence to rob home run


Spider-Man sighting in left field at Rogers Centre

By Benjamin Blum, CBC Sports Posted: Apr 15, 2015 10:05 PM ET Last Updated: Apr 16, 2015 2:24 AM ET


Blue Jays get first home win, beat Rays 0:48

Blue Jays get first home win, beat Rays 0:48

If you were preoccupied with the NHL playoffs, you may have missed this web gem.

Blue Jays left fielder Kevin Pillar put in an early consideration for catch of the year, robbing Tampa Bay's Tim Beckham of a sure home run. 

The Jays went on to beat the Rays 12-7. No word yet on whether Pillar was bitten by a radioactive spider as a child.

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Blue Jays downed as Rays win 4th straight

Written By doni icha on Rabu, 15 April 2015 | 22.49

Steven Souza got the Tampa Bay Rays started with a long home run, then sparked the go-ahead rally with a bunt.

Desmond Jennings drove in Souza with a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the eighth inning, and the Rays beat the Toronto Blue Jays 3-2 Tuesday night for their fourth straight win.

Souza opened the scoring in the first with a drive off the facing of the third deck in center. Rays manager Kevin Cash, whose playing career started with the Blue Jays, said he's never viewed a longer home run in Toronto.

"I've seen a lot of baseball games here, and that has got to be the furthest ball I've ever seen hit," Cash said.

The drive was measured at 463 feet, the longest home run by a Rays batter since Carlos Pena's 466 foot-drive against Washington on June 13, 2009.

"It's fun when it goes like that," Souza. "Have you ever cut butter with a knife? That's what it feels like."

The drive came on the first pitch Souza saw from Blue Jays rookie left-hander Daniel Norris.

"He hit it about 700 feet," Norris said with some exaggeration.

Souza needed less than 60 feet to make an offensive impact with his next hit. With the score 2-all, Souza, reached on a bunt single off Miguel Castro (0-1) leading off the eighth. One out later, Souza stole second and advanced to third on catcher Russell Martin's throwing error. Evan Longoria was intentionally walked before Jennings drove an 0-2 pitch to center, scoring Souza.

"Desmond's at bat, to me, was as crucial as they come," Cash said. "When you fall behind on that type of stuff, it's really tough to elevate a pitch."

Steve Geltz (1-0) pitched 1 1-3 innings for his first major league win. Grant Balfour and Kevin Jepsen each pitched an inning of hitless relief, with Jepsen getting his first save this year.

Kevin Kiermaier made a spectacular grab to retire Devon Travis for the second out of the ninth, leaping against the scoreboard in right-center.

"I feel like if it's in the air, I'm going to catch it," Kiermaier said. "The only way I'm not going to catch it is if it goes out."

Tim Beckham made it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly in the second, and Toronto chased Rays rookie Matt Andriese with a two-run fourth. Kevin Pillar hit an RBI single and Andriese left after the Rays couldn't turn the double play on Devon Travis' grounder, with Pillar sliding into Beckham at second base. Kirby Yates came on and gave up an RBI double to Jose Reyes.

Martin went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and is hitless in 21 at-bats. Martin came up with men at first and second in his first two at bats but fanned each time.

"I'm not going to be down on myself," said Martin, who signed a five-year, $82 million US contract in November. "I'm trying my best and I'm going to keep trying my best."

Making his first career start, Andriese allowed two runs and five hits in 3 2-3 innings. Norris gave up two runs and two hits in five innings.

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Indians pitcher hit in face by line drive


White Sox's Cabrera smacks ball

By Matt Ingram, CBC Sports Posted: Apr 14, 2015 10:03 PM ET Last Updated: Apr 14, 2015 10:03 PM ET

Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco faced a scary moment Tuesday.

He left a game against the White Sox after being struck in the face by a line drive hit by Chicago's Melky Cabrera.

Carrasco was able to get part of his glove on the ball before he was hit. He went down hard and stayed down for several minutes before being helped off the field in a cart. He was conscious, but clearly in pain as he held his left cheek.

The Indians report Carasco is being treated for a jaw contusion and has no symptoms of a concussion or head injury.

Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Submission Policy

Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that comments are moderated and published according to our submission guidelines.

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Blue Jays lose 4th straight home opener

Written By doni icha on Selasa, 14 April 2015 | 22.49

The dancing, floating knuckleball that R.A. Dickey throws can handcuff the best hitters in baseball.

When the pitch gets away from him, it can also be quite costly.

Dickey issued a pair of bases-loaded walks in the fourth inning Monday night and that was enough for the Tampa Bay Rays to shade Toronto 2-1 and spoil the Blue Jays' home opener before a sellout crowd at Rogers Centre.

"I throw a knuckleball. Some would come out, they would move a ton. Some would come out, they would stay high," Dickey said. "I lost my release point a little bit in the fourth. They really made me work.

"They did a good job of laying off some really close pitches and I didn't make the big pitch when I had to."

The Blue Jays couldn't get much going against Tampa Bay starter Jake Odorizzi, who held Toronto to two hits and one earned run over eight innings. Brad Boxberger worked the ninth for his third save.

"We ran into a guy tonight that we need to give our due to," Dickey said. "He pitched a great game. He was throwing three pitches for strikes, very sharp, keeping guys off balance. It's hard to run through our lineup like that at home. He was very, very good. So sometimes you just have to give credit to the other guy.

"But we've got a lot of things to be upbeat about. Nobody's going to hang their head."

The game was the first in a four-game series between the American League East clubs. It's part of a 10-game homestand for the Blue Jays (4-3), who won their first two series on the road.

Odorizzi (2-0) gave up a pair of two-out walks in the opening inning. A wild pitch put both runners in scoring position but the right-hander caught Josh Donaldson looking to get out of it.

In the third inning, the Rays (4-3) put runners on second and third after an infield single, walk and a balk. But Dickey (0-1) got cleanup hitter Evan Longoria to fly out to end the threat.

Desmond Jennings and Allan Dykstra stroked back-to-back singles to open the fourth. Rene Rivera popped up and Dickey made Kevin Kiermaier wave at a knuckleball for a strikeout.

Tim Beckham walked to load the bases and David DeJesus worked a full count. The towel-waving crowd of 48,414 tried to will Dickey to a third strike but he was well wide of the plate to give Tampa Bay its first run.

The veteran right-hander walked in a second run by giving another free pass to Steven Souza Jr. Asdrubal Cabrera flew out to end the Tampa half of the inning.


Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Steven Souza Jr. misses a diving catch on a double hit by Toronto Blue Jays Kevin Pillar during the fifth inning in Toronto on Monday. (Peter Power/The Canadian Press)

Odorizzi, meanwhile, settled in after his shaky opening frame. The Blue Jays didn't get a hit until Kevin Pillar's two-out double in the fifth inning and Devon Travis lashed a single to drive in Toronto's only run.

Dickey allowed three hits and two earned runs over six innings. He had six strikeouts but walked five batters.

Roberto Osuna worked two innings of relief for Toronto and Aaron Loup pitched the ninth. Jose Bautista walked to lead off the bottom of the ninth but was caught stealing after Edwin Encarnacion struck out.

"That might have been as big a play as we've had so far this season," said Rays manager Kevin Cash. "I just saw the highlight of Rivera's throw. That was a bullet down there."

Donaldson hit a towering fly ball to the warning track to end the game, which took two hours 30 minutes to play. The Rays outhit the Blue Jays 3-2.

The Blue Jays have lost four straight home openers for the first time in franchise history. Toronto fell to 26-13 in home openers, with a 16-10 mark at Rogers Centre.

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Rogers Centre's new surface has immediate effect

The Blue Jays rolled out the new turf Monday night-- AstroTurf - that will be in play at the Rogers Centre for the next three seasons. It looks different and it plays different than the rock, hard past surfaces that have plagued players' backs and knees and turned singles into triples.

The lime green surface, now there's a different look, has longer synthetic blades that have a noticeable effect on batted balls. It plays softer and slower, much slower. The new turf is supposed to cover the ground (concrete) for the 2015-17 seasons before a natural grass surface, with dirt infield, is introduced for the 2018 season. For now, the Toronto Argonauts share the field inside the Rogers Centre but they are in negotiations to find a new home by the 2017 season, with BMO Field foremost in their plans.

As the Blue Jays opened the 2015 season Monday night against the Tampa Bay Rays before 48,414 fans, the new surface immediately came into play. In the bottom of the third inning, Devon Travis grounded a ball to Rays shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. It was a routine out at first but after the play Cabrera had to have help from the trainer to remove a piece of rubber pellet from his eye that flew up from the infield.

Ground-up rubber pellets, made from recycled tires, are sprinkled among the synthetic grass blades to cushion the bounces. You'll see sprays of little black objects springing up from the turf on most balls that strike the surface. Cabrera was OK and continued on.

In the home half of the fifth inning, Kevin Pillar sliced a ball to right field. At the time the Jays didn't have a hit off Jake Odorizzi, so Rays outfielder Steven Souza Jr. went into a full dive forward attempting to catch the ball. He missed completely, but instead of rocketing off the artificial surface and rolling to the wall for a triple, perhaps an inside-the-park homer, it bounced gently beyond Souza, travelling only 10-15 feet or so, where it was recovered by centre-fielder Kevin Kiermaier. Pillar stopped at second with a double.

Then in the bottom of the eighth, again it was the visiting Rays being tested. Travis nubbed a ball in front of the plate. Rays catcher Rene Rivera came rocketing out from behind home and nearly over-ran the ball which only trickled a few feet into fair territory. He recovered to make the play to retire Travis at first. 

The Bue Jays lost the home opener, 2-1, as R.A. Dickey who limited the Jays to three hits in six innings, walked in a pair of runs in the fourth inning. The turf was not a factor.

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Inning limits don't stop young MLB pitcher injuries, says researcher

Written By doni icha on Senin, 13 April 2015 | 22.49

It's a problem that every Major League Baseball team wants to solve: how to stop pitcher injuries, especially in young, hot prospects who could be with a team for years. 

Coaching staff have tried preventing injuries by placing limits on the number of innings for young pitchers, and by increasing those limits gradually each year, usually by no more than 30 innings than the previous year. 

But a new study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness didn't find a link between inning limits and the risk of future injury to pitchers

"Especially in major league baseball, if people are using these to limit the amount of work a pitcher can do, there should be a correlation from these metrics to future injuries," said Thomas Karakolis, a kinesiologist with a PhD from the University of Waterloo, and one of the three authors of the study.

"We found with the entire population there was no link," he said.

Karakolis and co-authors Shivam Bhan, a former NCAA Division 1 baseball player, and Ryan Crotin, who worked as a baseball performance specialist consultant for the Baltimore Orioles, looked at pitching records over a five-year period.

All of the pitchers were 25 or younger, and had pitched at least a third of an inning in an MLB game.

The researchers included MLB records, as well as records for two minor baseball leagues, and defined an injury as any pitcher on the MLB disabled list. Karakolis estimates that 25 per cent of MLB players are injured and on the disabled list every year.

In total, the researchers analyzed over 700 pitching seasons from 2002-2007, and looked at pitches per inning, pitches per game, innings per game, and innings per season to see if any of those metrics were linked to future injuries.  

What they found was that there no significant correlation between how many innings someone pitched and likelihood of future injury. They also found that moderately increasing the number of innings each year had no effect on the risk of future injury.

"The point of our paper was to specifically to look at these cutoffs, these year-to-year changes in innings pitched," said Karakolis. "Our finding was that they didn't have any sort of correlation, it was all over the map."

The team looked at 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50-inning increases from previous years.

"A 10-inning increase and a 50-inning increase were both the same in terms of future injury likelihood," said Karakolis. 

Instead, Karakolis said there should be individual biomechanical testing for pitchers to figure out how much stress their bodies can handle. 

"Once you figure exactly out how much work you're putting on the tissues and then you can figure out how much work causes the tissues to become injured, you can use those measures now to actually control and limit the amount of pitches that a pitcher throws," he said. 

'So you can have tailored individual limits for each pitcher, rather than having blanket limits like a 30-inning increase for all pitchers under 25 years of age," said Karakolis. 

"I think that would be huge in terms of scouting and player development. I could figure out which pitchers are better suited to be a starting pitcher versus which pitcher is better suited to be a relief pitcher, a bullpen guy." 

The idea of biomechanical testing is starting to take hold in the MLB this year. Tech company Motus Global pioneered a sleeve called mThrow that pitchers can wear that tracks motion and measures workload on a crucial pitching ligament, the ulnar collateral ligament, then relays that information through an app via Bluetooth.

Sports Illustrated reported the sleeve was spotted frequently during spring training, and could be approved for in-game use during the regular season.  

Other teams are looking at data to help fight injury. The Los Angeles Dodgers and the Tampa Bay Rays have partnered with Irish company Kitman Labs to do data and biometric measurements to help spot injury risks before players get hurt. 

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Blue Jays host Rays in tonight's home opener

The Blue Jays' home opener is tonight.

The first game of the season at the Rogers Centre is scheduled to start at 7:07 p.m. It has been sold out since the day tickets went on sale in February.

R.A. Dickey will take the mound for the Jays as they open a four-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The knuckleballer pitched well in his season debut, limiting the New York Yankees to one earned run and four hits over 6 1/3 innings but the Blue Jays squandered a 3-1 lead and lost 4-3.

Dickey had a 2-1 record and 3.15 earned-run average over his final three starts against the Rays last season.

Tighter security at Rogers Centre for Jays games

Fans are being advised to get to the ballpark a little earlier this season, as tighter security is implemented at the Rogers Centre for baseball games. (Philip Lee-Shanok/CBC)

Just days into the new season, fans are optimistic about what Toronto can do. 

"It'll be exciting, I think. Tampa is not a very strong team this year, it doesn't seem," said fan Bob Pinsent.

Fans are being urged to get to the ballpark early as there are new security rules in effect that will take it longer for them to pass through.

The changes have been mandated by Major League Baseball.

"It's really to provide an extra level of security for our fans, but also to ensure that none of those illegal or prohibited items enter the building," said Mario Coutinho, the team's vice-president of stadium operations and security.

Those prohibited items include weapons, fireworks, alcohol, drugs and other illegal substances.

Toronto baseball fans are hoping the Jays can end their two-decade-long playoff drought this year.

If they make it, Blue Jays fans will have to be patient to see that long-awaited success, as the road to the playoffs is long in baseball.

With their win over the Orioles on Sunday afternoon, the Jays' record stood at 4-2 through the first six games of the year, while the Rays improved to 3-3 with a 8-5 victory over Miami.

Their offence is on a roll, helping the team take two of three games over the Marlins on the weekend with a .275 batting average and scoring 19 runs in the series.

Tampa Bay seems to be the ideal opponent Monday as it sports a 2-11 record as the opponent for a team's home opener.

The Blue Jays were 11-8 versus the Rays last season, including a 5-4 mark at home.

The Rays, who will start Jake Odorizzi (1-0, 0.00 ERA) on the mound, arrive with nine players on the disabled list, most notably starting pitchers Alex Cobb and Drew Smyly, who tossed a complete-game, two-hit shutout in Toronto on Aug. 22.

Some Jays fans will recognize Kevin Cash, who has taken over managerial duties for Tampa from Joe Maddon this season. He was a reserve catcher for Toronto from 2002-04.

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Mets reliever Mejia suspended 80 games

Written By doni icha on Minggu, 12 April 2015 | 22.49

New York Mets manager Terry Collins was shocked to learn Saturday that relief pitcher Jenrry Mejia had tested positive for the performance-enhancing substance Stanozolol.

Major League Baseball has suspended Mejia for 80 games.

"We're very disappointed, extremely disappointed," Collins said. "We came into this whole thing in spring training with huge expectations and the back end of our bullpen being very, very strong, so we're all shocked and disappointed."

This is the fourth penalty for a positive Stanozolol test reported by MLB in less than three weeks, following Minnesota pitcher Ervin Santana, Seattle pitcher David Rollins and Atlanta pitcher Arodys Vizcaino.

Mejia began the season as New York's closer, but he was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with posterior elbow inflammation, without having pitched in a game.

The 25-year-old Mejia released a statement through the players' union saying he knows the rules and accepts his punishment, but "can honestly say I have no idea how a banned substance ended up in my system."

Mejia apologized to the organization, his teammates, fans and family while also maintaining his innocence.

"I have been through a lot in my young career and missed time due to injury," Mejia said. "I have worked way too hard to come back and get to where I am, so I would never knowingly put anything in my body that I thought could hold me out further."

Collins added that he and the Mets support MLB's policy toward eliminating performance enhancing substances from the sport.

"We stand by the rules that Major League Baseball has put down," he said. "We'll have to regroup and get through the next 80 games with somebody else."

Mejia began 2014 as a starter but moved to the closer role about six weeks after Bobby Parnell tore an elbow ligament in the first game of the season. The right-hander from the Dominican Republic had 28 saves, 18 after the All-Star break to tie for second-most in the NL.

"I'm going to be honest — I love this kid," Collins said. "We challenged this guy last year and he stepped up for us and did a great job for us. This is a big disappointment."

Parnell is expected to return next month.

"The one thing we aren't going to do — we aren't going to rush him back," Collins said of Parnell. "I just think it's unfair."

Jeurys Familia is the team's closer for now.

"The guys who are here are going to have to pick it up and get the job done," Collins said.

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Schoop's slam buries Jays

Ubaldo Jimenez struck out eight and allowed one single over seven sparkling innings, Jonathan Schoop hit a grand slam and the Baltimore Orioles cruised to a 7-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday night.

Alejandro De Aza and Chris Davis homered for the Orioles, who rebounded from a 12-5 loss to Toronto in their home opener Friday.

Jimenez (1-0) also enjoyed a bounce-back performance following a poor 2014 season. After signing the most lucrative contract the franchise ever offered a free agent pitcher, the right-hander went 6-9 and lost his place in the starting rotation.

Following an effective spring training in which he successfully overhauled his mechanics, Jimenez retired 21 of 23 Toronto batters.

"You have to forget about what happened in the past and you have to forget quick," Jimenez said. "It doesn't matter whether it is good or bad. You can't do anything with the past."

Jimenez got nine straight outs before Jose Reyes hit a sinking liner to left that a diving De Aza barely missed grabbing. Jimenez then retired eight in a row — not allowing a ball out of the infield — before walking Reyes in the sixth.

"Tonight was a good reminder why he's been a good quality major league starter for a long time," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "If you've got any type of heart or feelings at all you know how much it means for him to contribute."

After Tommy Hunter worked a hitless eighth, Zach Britton gave up a double to Steve Tolleson and an RBI single to Edwin Encarnacion in the ninth.

Aaron Sanchez (0-1) allowed three runs and seven hits over 3 1-3 innings for the Blue Jays in his first major league start. He surrendered two homers, twice as many as he yielded last season in 24 games as a reliever.

"Obviously, this isn't the way I want to start the season," Sanchez said. "I got out there and tried to slow things down too much. I started aiming a little bit. It was not the night I wanted."

On Friday, the Blue Jays scored four first-inning runs and rolled to an easy victory. In this one, the Orioles wasted no time taking control. De Aza marked his 31st birthday by driving Sanchez's second pitch over the right-field wall, and Davis hit an opposite-field shot to left with one out for a 2-0 lead.

It was the first homer of the year for Davis, who hit 53 two years ago and 26 last season through Sept. 10 before a 25-game suspension for using Adderall.

The only home run Sanchez allowed last year was to Davis on Aug. 5.

The Orioles pulled away in the fifth against Todd Remond. A single and two walks loaded the bases for Schoop, who hit a 1-1 pitch into the left-field seats for his first career grand slam.

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