PITTSBURGH (AP)—The Toronto Blue Jays got a new manager, a bad scare and the same old result on a night much changed but, actually, not much changed at all.
Shortstop John McDonald misplayed Jason Michaels’ hard-hit grounder with the bases loaded and none out for a game-ending error in the 12th inning, and the Pittsburgh Pirates ruined Cito Gaston’s return as the Blue Jays’ manager with a 1-0 victory Friday night.
Jays ace Roy Halladay pitched seven shutout innings, but was lifted after being struck on the right temple by Nyjer Morgan’s line drive that deflected to third baseman Scott Rolen for an inning-ending out in the seventh. Halladay, who had precautionary X-rays after the game, apparently was not injured and is expected to make his next start.
The Blue Jays didn’t announce until minutes before the game ended that the ball struck Halladay in the head. TV replays appeared to show the ball striking the pitcher’s glove before deflecting to Rolen.
“He seems to be doing well and hopefully it’s a minor little bruise,” catcher Rod Barajas said.
Doug Mientkiewicz doubled for his third hit to start the 12th against Jesse Carlson (1-1), Toronto’s fifth pitcher, and Jack Wilson singled off the plate on a ball that traveled about 45 feet down the third-base line.
“You’re just hoping to get something going there,” Mientkiewicz said.
Toronto, losing its sixth in a row, was shut out for the fifth time in 75 games, and in the first game at PNC Park since its opening in 2001 to last more than nine scoreless innings.
“It seems that’s the way we’ve been playing, we haven’t been able to get any runs,” said Gaston, promoted earlier in the day to replace the fired John Gibbons. “Hopefully we’re going to straighten that out. It’s the first night, not to make any excuse. We’re going to have to get some hitting and, if we don’t, you’re going to see more nights like that.”
Gaston said before the game—his first as a major league manager since being fired by Toronto in September 2007—that he wanted to turn around a promising but underachieving Blue Jays offense.
It didn’t happen, even though Pirates pitchers were coming off their worst three-game series in 58 years—the White Sox outscored Pittsburgh 37-15 and hit 10 home runs during a three-game sweep in Chicago that ended Thursday.
That terrible series in Chicago didn’t prevent Duke from extending the Blue Jays’ hitting miseries. He limited them to six hits, including a pair of Alex Rios doubles, and Toronto ended with eight hits.
“This was big for us. We wanted to stop any negative momentum that might be building,” Duke said. “It was a rough road trip.”
Toronto has been limited to 26 runs in 10 games, and had to score seven in an 8-7 loss to Milwaukee on Thursday to get that many runs.
“It’s exactly the way the season’s been going,” Barajas said. “Our guys are battling on the mound, we get guys on base early but can’t seem to get them moving around the bases. It’s disappointing. This has gone on too long, and it’s time for us to step up. This is on us.”
The Blue Jays played in Pittsburgh for the first time. The only other interleague series between the two was a three-game Toronto sweep at home in 2004. … The only other game at PNC Park to go into extra innings scoreless was the Pirates’ 1-0 win over Atlanta on Aug. 28, 2002. … The shutout was Pittsburgh’s third. … The Pirates avoided becoming the first team to lose 100 interleague games. Their 59-99 record is by far the worst of any team in interleague games. They lost five of their first six games against the AL this season. … Toronto has lost 14 of 18. … Halladay, who didn’t get a decision, is 41-17 following a Blue Jays loss since 2003. … The Pirates had lost three in a row and five of six.