Blue Jays 2, Orioles 1
“It’s probably the best day of my life,” Litsch said. “I never thought it would happen that way but it’s a great experience.”
Litsch walked Miguel Tejada with two outs in the ninth and Blue Jays manager John Gibbons replaced him with Jeremy Accardo. Litsch got a loud ovation from the Rogers Centre crowd as he left the field and even took a brief curtain call, doffing his cap from the dugout steps as the cheers continued.
“I gave a short one,” a glowing Litsch said. “I didn’t want to get up to the top step.”
“That’s a dominating performance,” Gibbons said. “The kid was outstanding.”
Litsch’s father Rick flew up from Tampa, Fla., to watch the game, which fell on his 57th birthday.
“The first inning and the last inning pretty much did me in,” the elder Litsch said. “The first batter and the last batter, my heart was skipping.”
Father and son planned to celebrate with dinner after the game.
Called up from Double-A New Hampshire, where he was 5-1 with an 0.96 ERA in six starts, Litsch (1-0) started in place of Halladay, who underwent an appendectomy Friday and is expected to miss four weeks.
“I don’t want to compare anybody to Doc because he’s one of a kind but (Litsch) definitely resembled him a little bit,” second baseman Aaron Hill said. “He was up there, ready to go. I don’t think he shook off any pitches. He did an unbelievable job tonight.”
The Blue Jays have two scheduled off days in the next week and haven’t decided when they’ll next use their fifth starter.
“I don’t know,” Gibbons said. “It would be awful tough to send (Litsch) down, I’ll tell you that.”
Five years ago, Litsch was a bat boy for Tampa Bay, fetching lumber for current Baltimore players Chris Gomez and Huff. He allowed just four singles, walked three and struck out one.
“It was a little strange but I’m happy for the guy,” said Huff, who went 1-for-3. “He threw a good game. It’s too bad it was against us. It’s probably one of the special days of his life.”
Litsch’s effort was the longest outing by a Blue Jay in his major league debut.
“Anytime there’s a new guy that comes in, whether it’s his first start or his hundredth start, everybody pulls for him,” catcher Jason Phillips said. “You saw guys diving, trying to do everything they could to help him get his first win.
Daniel Cabrera (3-4) almost matched Litsch, throwing a three-hitter to keep the Orioles in the game. He struck out six and walked five, one intentional, in his fourth career complete game and first this season.
A 24th-round pick in the 2004 draft, Litsch survived a shaky first inning as Baltimore took a 1-0 lead. Brian Roberts led off with a walk, went to third on Nick Markakis’ single and scored when Tejada grounded into a double play.
“The double play settled me down,” Litsch said. “You’ve got to get your feet wet. Once you get your feet wet, you start to regain control of yourself and make things happen.”
Alex Rios homered on Cabrera’s second pitch of the game to tie it at 1. It was Rios’ eighth of the season and the fourth time this year he’s led off a game with a home run.
Cabrera responded by retiring the next 13 batters, a streak that ended in the fifth when Lyle Overbay and Hill drew one-out walks. Phillips popped out and John McDonald grounded out to end the inning.
“I felt pretty strong for those four innings,” Cabrera said. “That’s as aggressive as I’ve been the whole season.”
Rios helped put Toronto in front in the sixth. He led off with a walk, advanced on Adam Lind’s groundout and scored one out later when Glaus singled to right.
Cabrera has not won on the road since Sept. 28, 2006, his final start of the season, when he pitched a one-hitter at Yankee Stadium.
Roberts extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a single in the sixth. … Rios has nine career leadoff home runs. … Baltimore grounded into three double plays.