In his first scheduled start since a highly publicized blowout with manager John Gibbons, Ted Lilly leads the Toronto Blue Jays in the finale of their three-game series with the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.
Toronto (68-61) staked Lilly (10-11, 4.64 ERA) to an early 8-0 lead against Oakland on Monday. But the left-hander gave up seven runs in the third inning and was met at the mound by Gibbons for a pitching change.
Lilly intially refused to give the ball to his manager, who chewed him out on the mound. When Lilly headed to the clubhouse, the manager followed him and the argument reportedly turned physical.
Cameramen near the dugout saw Gibbons push Lilly first, but both claimed no punches were thrown.
“I overreacted, no question about that,” Gibbons said Tuesday during a weekly appearance on a Toronto radio station. “I’m not proud of that. That’s not who I am. But I am a passionate guy … It should never get to that point, but it did happen.
“I can’t run from that, I can’t make excuses. I’ve got to live with it now.”
Neither Gibbons nor Lilly—who didn’t get a decision in the 12-10 loss— were disciplined by general manager J.P. Ricciardi in an ensuing meeting. Lilly, though, remained contrite.
“Who knows how long I have left here,” said Lilly, who’s eligible for free agency after this season. “Maybe a month. Maybe longer. It was a bad day. I embarrassed the organization.”
In his last two starts, spanning 7 1-3 innings, Lilly has been pounded for 13 runs, 17 hits and an opponent batting average of .447.
He’s also struggled against the Royals, going 0-1 with a 5.93 ERA in five career starts. He will try to help the Blue Jays rebound from a 2-0 loss on Saturday, their fourth shutout in the last 12 games.
Roy Halladay’s complete-game effort didn’t quite measure up to Runelvys Hernandez’s on Saturday as the Royals right-hander threw the first shutout by a Kansas City starter since Brian Anderson did it August 4, 2004, against the Chicago White Sox.
“We needed this too,” said Royals manager Buddy Bell, who was ejected in the fifth inning for arguing a check swing by Toronto’s Alex Rios. “We needed this kind of a game. We haven’t had one all year, I don’t think. It was awesome.”
Kansas City’s Odalis Perez (1-1, 4.66) looks to win back-to-back starts for the first time since behind acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 25. The left-hander limited Cleveland to two runs and seven hits over seven innings in a 5-2 victory on Tuesday.
He walked one and struck out four in his first victory as a starter since May 14.
“I’ve been trying for the last three starts to get a win,” Perez said. “(Tuesday) was special. These people know they can count on me when they ask me to pitch.”
Perez is 2-0 with a 0.59 ERA in two career starts versus the Blue Jays, allowing only one run through 15 1-3 innings and holding them to a .196 batting average.