His teammates knew better.
Wells’ two-run homer helped the Blue Jays beat the error-plagued Los Angeles Angels 7-5 on Saturday night. The two-time All-Star is batting .293 with four homers and 15 RBIs in 23 games since coming off the DL on June 8.
Wells, who missed 25 games after fracturing his left wrist while making a diving catch May 9 at Cleveland, is in the first season of a seven-year, $126-million deal. He’s coming off a sub-par season in which he batted a career-worst .245, but he doesn’t feel the need to live up to the big contract.
“There’s no more pressure on me than what I put on myself on a regular basis,” the 10-year veteran said. “I expect myself to go out and perform each night, and I want to succeed every time I go up to the plate. Obviously, it’s not going to happen because it’s baseball and you’re going to fail sometimes.”
Roy Halladay (10-6) gave up two runs and six hits in seven innings, struck out seven and recorded only three of his outs on flyballs to the outfield. The 2003 AL Cy Young Award winner allowed only one runner past first base after giving up a two-run homer to Vladimir Guerrero in the fourth.
“I thought we mixed pitches pretty well,” Halladay said. “They’re a pretty good offensive club, so we had to do a good job of trying to work both sides of the plate and change speeds as much as we could.”
Alex Rios went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and three stolen bases for the Blue Jays. The AL West-leading Angels committed four errors, matching their season high on June 20 at Philadelphia.
Guerrero had three RBIs, including a run-scoring double in the eighth against Scott Downs. Closer B.J. Ryan, pitching for the first time in five days, came on in the ninth with a 7-3 lead before giving up an RBI single to Howie Kendrick. Gary Matthews Jr. scored on a double-play grounder by Mike Napoli, but Ryan retired Casey Kotchman on a flyball to end it after giving up a double by Chone Figgins.
John Lackey (6-2) gave up six runs—five earned—over six innings with seven strikeouts. The right-hander yielded more than three runs for the first time in 10 starts after missing the first 1 1/2 months of the season with a strained biceps.
Guerrero ended a 10-game home run drought with his 14th of the season after a single by Kotchman, trimming Toronto’s lead to 3-2. The homer, which came on a pitch about a foot off the ground, was Guerrero’s first at Angel Stadium since June 11.
“He’s got that knack of hitting pitches like that,” Halladay said. “I think with him, if the pitch is down there like that one, it’s got to be more in or it’s got to be up. I mean, it’s not a normal swing path, but it’s a ball that he gets to. He’s obviously a different type of hitter and he can hurt you at almost any time.”
Wells restored Toronto’s three-run margin with a two-run shot for his ninth of the season after a double by Marco Scutaro.
“I didn’t manage the third inning very well at all,” Lackey said. “I had a couple of guys 0-2 and couldn’t put them away. I should have never given Vernon Wells something to hit with a base open.”
The homer was Wells’ first in 21 career at-bats against Lackey to that point.
“He was throwing his breaking ball a lot tonight and getting a lot of strikeouts with it, so my goal was just to try and put the bat on the ball and I was able to do it that time,” Wells said.
After striking out the side in the second inning, Lackey gave up three runs in the third. Rios drove in two with a bases-loaded single on a 2-2 pitch, and Scutaro scored when Wells’ grounder got through third baseman Figgins for an error.
Lyle Overbay led off the sixth with a double and scored Toronto’s sixth run on a fielder’s choice grounder to second by Adam Lind, beating the throw home standing up as Napoli tried to block the plate with his left foot. Napoli’s throwing error to third base on Rios’ second stolen base of the seventh inning allowed another run to score, giving the Blue Jays a 7-2 lead.
Rios, whose first stolen base came on the front end of a double-steal with Wells, has been successful in his last 26 attempts. His 21 steals this season are the most by a Toronto player before the All-Star break since Raul Mondesi had 21 in the first half in 2000.
Halladay has allowed five homers in his last six starts, after giving up just one (Justin Morneau) in 77 2-3 innings over his previous 10 starts. … Lackey and Halladay have started in the same game only one other time, on May 18, 2006, at Anaheim. Neither got a decision in Toronto’s 10-inning, 8-4 victory. … This was the first time Lackey failed to pitch at least seven innings since returning to the rotation. … Toronto is 7-7 since Cito Gaston replaced John Gibbons as manager on June 20.