By Bob Elliott
NEW YORK _ In what was once known as the shortest stint as a Blue Jays closer, Jason Frasor lasted five outings.
Frasor blew a save opening day 2010 against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Tex., saved three more and blew a save against the Chicago White Sox in his fifth game.
And that was that.
Brett Cecil’s tenure lasted four hitters … 16 pitches in all, including an intentional walk.
Miguel Castro, 20, who a year ago Thursday was still at Dunedin’s extended spring training awaiting to be shipped to class-A Vancouver, was going to get the save opportunity if one became available on Thursday night at Yankee Stadium.
He’s the new closer … and will be until he blows one.
Just as Cecil was on Wednesday.
The bullpen as solid as jelly is as thin as sand paper.
Cecil threw four fastballs … one at 88, three at 87 on as the Jays gave up three in the eighth.
So are the Jays hitting the panic button or being pro-active with the closer’s role?
The question before opening day was whether the Jays would go 6-for-6 on their rookies clicking. The assumption was they would get what they expected from their experienced people.
Make no mistake this is a bullpen which needs help, but then you knew that in November.
Where would be the Jays be without Roberto Osuna and Castro, the twin 20-year-olds? Osuna pitched 1 1/3 scoreless and Castro worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his first save.
Cecil was not forgotten — you were expecting Liam Hendriks, Todd Redmond, Colt Hynes or Marco Estrada with a two-run lead? — working the eighth and hitting 91 MPH with his fastball as he struck out Mark Teixeira looking, popped up Chase Headley, issued a walk and struck out J.R. Murphy.
Before the finale of the series we asked a few players were asked to finish the sentence “Wednesday’s loss was the worst since …”
Aaron Loup, who allowed the first three batters he faced to reach on a bloop double, a line single and a hit batter: “It’s just one loss. But not a good sign, it was the bullpen’s first chance to show what it can do and we didn’t do it. Everyone says we’re the weak spot. It’s not going to define us. The vibe in here is still good.”
Dioner Navarro: “Minnesota last year, second game of the doubleheader. I spent a lot of time at the back stop I was catching. It was cold, but it was the same for both teams.”
In Minnesota Steve Delebar, Sergio Santos allowed one hit and six runs to spit up a 5-3 lead on eight walks and three wild pitches.
Justin Smoak: “Two years ago the Seattle Mariners went into Fenway, we’re up 7-1 going into the bottom of the eighth. They score one. Then, they score six in the bottom of the ninth, they won on a Daniel Nava walk off with one out. Not good.”
R.A. Dickey, who was six outs away from his 90th career win: “Minnesota last year. We threw up on ourselves. It was super ugly. This was fluky. Maybe this one wasn’t so bad because it was only our second game of the year and we haven’t gotten into the flow of the season.”
Aaron Sanchez: “With (double-A) New Hampshire we were up 6-0 in the eighth playing Portland. They get a couple of hits, a couple of walks, a bases-clearing double. We change pitchers a double to right. They scored eight runs and added another in the ninth. I think Scott Copeland started, then Dustin Antolin, then Tyler Ybarra and I don’t remember who else.”
Dalton Pompey: “In my draft year (2010) I was with the Oakville Royals and we won the first game, Danny Bleiwas put his main guys in the second game, the lead-off hitter (Joey Hawkins) homered on the second pitch, we had maybe two hits and got beat maybe 13-0 by the Ontario Blue Jays at Ireland Park in Burlington. We had zero chance from the second pitch.
“The coldest game I ever played was against Team Ontario at Vaughan. It was minus-10, it was snowing, the wind was blowing into the hitter’s eyes, my eyes were tearing up and you couldn’t feel your hands.”
Over to you Mr. Castro … the ball is in your court.
Looking back to 2010 Frasor told starter Shaun Marcum in the trainer’s room “my bad.” Michael Young doubled off the wall, Frasor struck out Josh Hamilton, Vladimir Guerrero reached on an infield hit and Nelson Cruz hit a jam-shot put runners at second and third, Chris Davis was walked intentionally and Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a fly ball between the drawn-in outfield in right-centre.
“They only hit one ball hard,” said Gaston said that day.
The same words the Jays said about the Yankee Stadium implosion.