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Pompey excited for first MLB start to come vs. Jeter, Yanks

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NEW YORK -- Dalton Pompey hopes that if he gets to second base on Friday night and is standing next to Derek Jeter, that someone takes a picture and sends it to him. Pompey grew up watching Jeter and rooting for the Yankees, and he made his first Major League start against them at Yankee Stadium. Pompey singled in the second inning for his first Major League hit.

"To think that I'm having my first start here is pretty surreal," Pompey said. "It's an amazing feeling, and I'm excited and nervous at the same time."

Nervous but not overwhelmed, as his manager John Gibbons praised his level of maturity. Pompey, who was born in Mississauga, Ontario, became the 19th Canadian-born player to appear in a game for Toronto earlier this month. He rose through the ranks of the Blue Jays' Minor League system this year after starting the season at Class A Advanced Dunedin.

From there Pompey, the Blue Jays' No. 3 prospect, rose through Double-A New Hampshire and Triple-A Buffalo and impressed at each level. His slash line from his combined Minor League season was .317/.392/.469 with nine homers, 84 runs scored, 51 RBIs and 43 stolen bases.

He was promoted to the Majors in September, made his MLB debut on Sept. 2 as a pinch-runner and picked up his first RBI on a groundout in his first big league plate appearance on Sept. 10. Not bad compared to his goal at the start of the year of just making it to Double-A.

"It's been pretty much a whirlwind," Pompey said. "I never thought that I would be in this position, but I am through my hard work and the dedication that I had, and obviously the great year that I had put me in this situation."

Pompey's best friend is in town to watch, but his family could not make it to the game -- although his parents texted him that he was in the starting lineup before even he knew. Pompey started in left field and hit eighth.

"I can't put it into words," he said. "To have my start here is just awesome."

Jamal Collier is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"event":["prospect" ] }
{"event":["prospect" ] }

Encarnacion has MRI on back, homers vs. Yanks

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NEW YORK -- Edwin Encarnacion has been experiencing some back pains during the past few days, so he had a precautionary MRI on his back on Friday.

Manager John Gibbons said the back aggravates Encarnacion "every now and then," but he was in the Blue Jays' starting lineup, batting third as the designated hitter. This latest problem started during the series in Baltimore, but it didn't seem to faze him in his first at-bat Friday night as he belted a two-run homer off Yankees righty Hiroki Kuroda.

"He feels it more when he's out there on the field playing, standing all the time, so it helps him to DH," Gibbons said.

Encarnacion came off the disabled list on Aug. 15 with a right quad strain that sidelined him for a little more than a month. Since then, he was batting .219 with six homers and 17 RBIs entering Friday, but Gibbons said Encarnacion looks healthy and does not believe that his back has hindered him during the past month.

"I think his swing is fine," Gibbons said.

Jamal Collier is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Kelley not pleased with Bautista's reaction after homer

Blue Jays slugger insists his demonstrative enthusiasm wasn't directed at pitcher

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NEW YORK -- Shawn Kelley will admit that he missed his location. His batterymate, Francisco Cervelli, will admit that he called the wrong pitch. Either way, the combination resulted in Jose Bautista smacking Kelley's high fastball into the left-field seats to tie Thursday's game in the eighth inning. The Yankees, however, went on to win, 3-2.

But it's what came directly after Bautista's swing that may have angered Kelley the most, when the Blue Jays slugger slammed his bat down and began cursing as he rounded the bases. To Bautista, that was just a passionate cathartic release. To Kelley, it was something more.

"I honestly felt disrespected and I didn't do anything to deserve it," said Kelley. "I kind of saw the reaction and heard the cursing and stuff running around the bases. I didn't get it.

"We're both competitive and we're both competitors. We've still got three games, so I could still be out there facing him. So I'm not trying to start a big stir or personal battle with him or with our teams or start any drama. I was a little bothered by the way it went down last night, and I felt it was OK for me to say something."

Bautista, meanwhile, said none of his demonstrative enthusiasm had anything to do with Kelley or the Yankees, and that it was really a public venting of personal frustration.

"It's unfortunate that he thinks that any of my emotions following last night's home run had anything to do with him. It didn't," said Bautista. "I was in a moment of a lot of passion because of the developments of the game, and stuff that had happened to me throughout the game had me fired up at the moment. ... I'm sorry he felt like any of it was directed to him or the Yankees, which it wasn't."

Bautista clarified his reasoning even more.

"I [wasn't] able to come through in other moments, particularly more the first pitch in that at-bat, believing that it was a ball and it was called a strike," Bautista said. "Especially in that position, where we're fighting for our life chance-wise going to the playoffs, close ballgame, eighth inning, down by two, man on first. I was pretty fired up. I felt like it was a pitch that was a pretty bad ball [that] gets called a strike. I was yelling and cursing, too, when I fouled a ball back. Yet he doesn't seem to be too upset about that."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi didn't notice any of the extracurricular activity during the home run trot (he was too busy watching Brett Gardner try to make a play on the ball). But he tried to put things in perspective Friday.

"People are always going to take exception to when they feel that they're being shown up. I understand that," said Girardi. "Sometimes players do it intentionally. Most of the time they don't. It's become accepted in our world that you can do things when you do things well in sports, when years ago, it wasn't acceptable. The game has changed."

Cervelli, however, wasn't bothered at all.

"They can do whatever they want," he said. "I respect every guy. I think he was upset for something, maybe his first pitch, but that's his at-bat. It doesn't bother me."

Jake Kring-Schreifels is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Pompey, one of Canada's best, follows in brother's footsteps

Tristan appears poised to develop into a top prospect like his brother, Dalton

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TORONTO -- Tristan Pompey has always wanted to be like his older brother and he's starting to realize their similarities could have big league implications.

Dalton Pompey was recently promoted from Triple-A Buffalo to the Majors as a September callup.

Now his younger brother is temporarily keeping his seat warm at the Rogers Centre, while Pompey wraps up the Blue Jays' final road trip of the season.

Tristan is among 160 of Canada's top draft-eligible players competing in Tournament 12, a five-day amateur baseball showcase at Toronto's home stadium, which comes to a conclusion Saturday. Getting to play on the same field as his 21-year-old brother has Pompey dreaming big.

"I could be here, too, some day, that's what it tells me," he said. "It's super surreal that they give us guys the Major League field. It means a lot. It means I have worked hard and I deserve to be here amongst all these great players.

"It's pretty sweet knowing that Dalton's in the same position that I am in in the outfield, and he's shagging balls out there and I'm doing the same thing."

The Pompey brothers look the same. Both play the outfield and have shared the same goal of becoming big leaguers since they were kids.

Both played basketball growing up, too, but their mother Valerie Pompey said baseball was always the No. 1 passion of her only kids.

"Right from the beginning they were just good at it," she said, while watching her youngest participate in a tournament game.

It's clear they made the right choice to give up the hardwood for the diamond.

Dalton started the 2014 season at Class A Advanced Dunedin and advanced to the Majors, while Tristan continues to make his own strides as a player.

A scout for a Major League club in attendance at Tournament 12 singled out Tristan as one of the key Canadian position players leading up to the 2015 First-Year Player Draft. The 17-year-old, who has a lean build like his brother, said his speed and contact rate are two areas of his game which have improved most.

Pompey, clocked with one of the fastest 60-yard times during a pre-tournament workout, has gone through extensive lower- and upper-body exercises to become more explosive and agile.

The 6-foot-3, 180-pounder has also received guidance from former Expos great and current Blue Jays baserunning coordinator Tim Raines.

Dalton enjoyed similar improvements this season in the running and hitting departments, evidenced by his career-high .317 average and 43 stolen bases across three Minor League levels.

The similarities they share come from having a strong brotherly bond.

"We are really close," Tristan said. "We are four-and-a-half years apart but it's almost like we are twins -- we are that close together."

Dalton is an alumnus of Greg Hamilton's Canadian Junior National Team, and Tristan could soon join the prestigious program if he continues on the right development path. Hamilton, the director of Baseball Canada's national teams, recognizes the similarities between the two but doesn't believe they are a carbon copy of one another, either.

"I think Tristan is going to be a little different -- they aren't going to be the same player," Hamilton said. "Tristan certainly has the prerequisites to be a really good player; it might not turn out to be the same form of player as Dalton.

"But he has some gifts. He's an interesting player who certainly has a chance to be a really good player."

Valerie and her husband, Ken, have always had confidence in their boys, but even they were caught by surprise when their eldest got the call to the big leagues.

"We thought it was going to happen one day, just not that fast," Valerie said.

She was out watering the plants when the phone rang, a call she didn't reach in time. It was Dalton Pompey and, moments later, as she tried calling him back, he sent a text saying "Mom, I'm going to the big leagues."

"I was so flustered I couldn't even dial his number," Valerie said. "I was so excited, I couldn't believe it."

As Pompey told the story of her kids' baseball journeys and snapped photos of her youngest son participating at Tournament 12 on the same field her oldest now calls home, she felt a wave of nostalgia.

"When I see Tristan out there it brings tears to my eyes because I think about my older one," she said.

Tears of joy, of course. Something she hopes there will be more of in the future.

Chris Toman is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Jays Care, Harlem RBI honored with top philanthropy award

Baseball again recognized with annual Patterson Awards

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NEW YORK -- Cito Gaston's mother always told him: "Treat others like you would want to be treated." Those words still rang in his head on Friday as he represented a Blue Jays organization that had just received a major award for the third year in a row as recognition of the Jays Care Foundation, the ever-growing charitable arm of Canada's Major League Baseball club.

Jays Care Foundation and Harlem RBI, along with the Tiger Woods Foundation, were recipients of the 2014 Steve Patterson Award for Excellence in Sports Philanthropy, presented by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation a day earlier in a ceremony in Princeton, N.J. MLB held an event Friday in Manhattan to mark the recognitions, and the fact that baseball has now accounted for seven of these increasingly prestigious awards, the most of any sport.

"I really learned how to give back through my mom," said Gaston, who managed Toronto to two World Series championships. "She taught me a long time ago to give back, and I continue to give back to this day, until I'm no longer here. Giving back is like the old saying: 'It's better to give than to receive.' If you think about it, when you receive something, how happy you are. Man, just think about when you give something. ... You're twice as happy. You know how many smiles you put on people's faces by doing that."

There were many smiles at this event at the MLB Fan Cave -- smiles of satisfaction, of being able to share with others that their year-round efforts to help others across an entire nation were making a difference. The Blue Jays were acknowledged previously with the Commissioner's Award for Philanthropic Excellence in 2012, and they were also recognized globally with the Beyond Sport "Sports Team of the Year" Award in 2013

Jays Care Foundation, established in 1992, the year of Toronto's first World Series championship, sets kids on a lifelong track to success by investing in charitable, community and baseball programs and facilities that focus on helping kids in need get active, excel academically and lead healthy lives. To date, Jays Care has invested more than $7.5 million in Canada's children and communities.

"This is a tremendous honor for the Toronto Blue Jays and the Jays Care Foundation," said Steven Brooks, the Blue Jays' senior vice president of business operations. "It started out really as a Toronto-based foundation, working with Toronto community housing, providing educations and recreational programs for youth, really in the greater Toronto area. About three or four years ago, we really embraced the idea that we are Canada's only Major League Baseball team, and we can do more.

"Through the efforts of those at the foundation, we brought that vision to life and to some 40,000 children annually across Canada -- 200 communities, 10 provinces, one territory. There's no other professional sports team -- certainly in Canada -- doing something on that scale. I say that because I'm very, very proud of the work that Jays Care has done in that regard."

Past Patterson Award recipients from baseball include Chicago White Sox Charities, the Reds Community Fund, The Red Sox Foundation, the Giants Community Fund and The Moyer Foundation.

"Commissioner [Bud] Selig has often said that Baseball is a social institution with social responsibilities, and our league and our 30 clubs embrace this concept by giving back in meaningful ways," said Tom Brasuell, MLB vice president of community affairs. "The Patterson Award is a wonderful outlet for recognizing excellence in philanthropy, and we're proud to say that with those two organizations, no sport has won more Patterson Awards than Baseball, in the last 10 years."

Harlem RBI, a part of MLB's Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities initiative, has grown to aid more than 1,500 boys and girls -- now also including South Bronx -- since it started in 1991 with 75 kids. Youth are first exposed to Harlem RBI through its summer baseball program. Program components include Rookie League, REAL Kids, TeamBuilders, TeamWorks, Legends and Social Work. Since 2005, 97 percent of Harlem RBI seniors have graduated high school and 94 percent have matriculated at college.

"We've been working with MLB for close to two decades now, long before the idea that children were other than somebody else's," said Rich Berlin, Harlem RBI's executive director. "Not only has Major League Baseball been a really critical part of our growth and development as an organization, but Tom personally has been wind in our sails that whole time.

"When we got started in this work, the idea that sports was kind of a legitimate way that institutions would recognize how kids get healthy was just not on the landscape. There were no public or private institutions who would support this type of work. 'Oh, that's Little League, you go out and throw out some balls and hopefully some good things happen to kids.'"

Berlin said the Patterson Award has been a "beacon and a leader in that movement, in the idea that sports can change children's lives, and whole communities' lives." Indeed, Steve Patterson was a UCLA basketball center, NBA player and Arizona State basketball coach who was wont to help others with little fanfare. His wife, Carlette, continues to carry the torch for him through this award, which was established in his name in 2005.

"It's a huge honor to really be able to take Steve's legacy of giving back, and his huge passion and love, for just honoring the people that so many of us don't know about," she said. "Sports is great about really bringing the champions that are on the field, and you know all about their stories. But for every champion that's on the field, there have been many, many people behind them, that have helped nurture them as young kids, to bring up sports and all the amazing life skills and lessons that they've learned.

"Every winner of this award has really gone out and blessed kids in their community. They've rolled up their sleeves and they've said, "As much as we love sport, we want to use it as a gift to give back to our community.' It's amazing to watch the life stories, and the transformation that happens off the field in the hearts and souls of the kids in these communities that change."

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of Read and join other baseball fans on his community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Blue Jays fall to Yanks on Lind's error in ninth

Bautista hits game-tying homer in eighth before first baseman's miscue

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NEW YORK -- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said this four-game series against the Yankees means more than just a battle for second place in the American League East -- which the Orioles clinched on Tuesday -- and that it is important to finish the season strong.

Both Toronto and New York came into Thursday's game with identical records and faint hopes for the postseason, and the Blue Jays were dealt another heartbreaking defeat. This time, an error by first baseman Adam Lind in the ninth had the Yankees celebrating a 3-2 walk-off victory at Yankee Stadium.

Chris Young began the inning with a single off reliever Aaron Sanchez. Pinch-runner Antoan Richardson then stole second base and was bunted to third by Brett Gardner before Lind was unable to handle a grounder off the bat of Chase Headley.

Lind said he did not peek toward Richardson at third base. In fact, he did not have enough time to because the ball was hit right at him.

"I don't know," he said. "It happened so fast. Basically, I did not make the play."

This latest blow to the Blue Jays' postseason hopes kept them six games behind the A's for the second American League Wild card spot. Toronto would have to jump four teams, including the Yankees, with 10 games to play.

The Blue Jays have been a streaky team all season long, leading the division after a strong April and May before fading in the second half. But they insist that these games down the stretch are far from meaningless, even if they are no longer mathematically alive.

"There's always something to play for, always," said R.A. Dickey, Thursday's starter. "You're not just going through the motions out there, you're playing for something, whether it's the future, whether it's a goal that you set for yourself, whatever it is. The hope is that nobody's mailing it in and guys are still playing with heart."

Thursday's loss stung even harder knowing that the Blue Jays had come back from a 2-0 deficit. They were kept off the board until the eighth inning, when a two-out single by Jose Reyes extended the inning for Jose Bautista, who crushed a two-run homer -- No. 33 on the year -- to left field off Shawn Kelley to tie the game.

Bautista, who slammed his bat to the ground after watching the ball sail over the fence, has now homered in four consecutive games against the Yankees.

That was all Toronto's suddenly scuffling offense could muster, however. The Blue Jays have scored just seven runs through the first four games (0-4) of this seven-game road trip and have now lost six out of their last seven games.

Gibbons tried to provide a spark by using his bench with three pinch-hitters, but the bats remained cold.

"We're just not getting a lot of hits," Gibbons said.

Dickey mostly held New York in check during his six innings of work, surrendering runs on an RBI double by Stephen Drew in the fifth and a solo home run by Derek Jeter in the sixth. He threw only 89 pitches, but when Dioner Navarro pinch-hit for Dickey's personal catcher, Josh Thole, in the seventh, it forced Dickey out of the game as well.

By getting the first out in the fourth inning, Dickey surpassed 200 innings for the fourth consecutive season. He has thrown the fifth-most innings in baseball since 2011.

"It means that you've been consistent," Dickey said. "And that's a goal that, at the beginning of every year, that I hope for -- to be trustworthy and consistent."

His counterpart, Shane Greene, was strong for the Yankees. He stifled Toronto through 6 2/3 innings, allowing three hits and two walks while striking out six and not allowing a run.

"One of those games, neither team is getting a lot of hits ... tough way to lose a game no doubt," Gibbons said. "They're all tough."

Jamal Collier is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Dickey nets 200 innings for fourth straight year

Blue Jays knuckleballer has thrown the fifth-most frames in Majors since start of 2011

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NEW YORK -- When R.A. Dickey retired his first hitter in the fourth inning of the Blue Jays' 3-2 loss to the Yankees on Thursday night, he reached the 200-innings mark for the fourth consecutive season.

He has thrown the fifth-most innings in the Majors since the start of 2011, trailing the Royals' James Shields, the Tigers' Justin Verlander, the Mariners' Felix Hernandez and the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw.

"It means that you've been consistent," Dickey said. "And that's a goal that, at the beginning of every year, that I hope for -- to be trustworthy and consistent. And if you're getting into the 200's with your innings pitched, you've usually been good enough to stay out there for six and seven innings, and eight innings a night. That's the hope for every starter."

Dickey turned in another solid outing, allowing two runs on five hits in six innings, but he did not factor into the decision. For him, reaching this milestone is another way he can help prove he was worth trading for back in December 2012.

Toronto acquired Dickey, Josh Thole, the knuckleballer's personal catcher, and catcher Mike Nickeas from the Mets for Travis d'Arnaud, the Mets' current everyday catcher, right-hander Noah Syndergaard, catcher John Buck and outfielder Wuilmer Becerra.

"You want to be worth what was given up for you, at least I do. I want to be worth it," he said. "And part of being worth it is being consistently out there on the field."

Jamal Collier is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Stroman expected to make next start as appeal plays out

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NEW YORK -- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons expects right-hander Marcus Stroman to start against the Yankees on Saturday as scheduled as the appeal process for his six-game suspension plays out.

Stroman threw a pitch over the head of Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph during Monday's 5-2 loss in Baltimore that appeared to be in response for an incident earlier in the game when Jose Reyes felt that Joseph stepped on his hand while sliding into home. Major League Baseball issued the suspension Wednesday afternoon, which Stroman immediately appealed.

Stroman said on Thursday he had not heard anything new about the process or when his hearing would take place, and he maintained his position that he would not intentionally throw at someone's head.

He also did not dismiss the notion of dropping the appeal after he made his start on Saturday -- "I'd have to talk to my agents," he said -- which would give him time to serve his full suspension and start one of the final two games of the season.

Gibbons has set up a contingency plan if Stroman is forced to begin serving his suspension prior to Saturday. Gibbons would use a bullpen day, with right-hander Todd Redmond getting the start instead of one of the Blue Jays' younger pitchers, all of whom would not likely be able to throw more than two innings at this point of the year.

"Probably get our most innings out of Redmond ... but I anticipate Stro is going to start anyway," Gibbons said.

Worth noting

Dioner Navarro, struck on the mask by a foul tip on Tuesday night, pinch-hit in the seventh and finished the game behind the plate.

He was held out of the lineup on Wednesday for precautionary reasons after saying he felt "fuzzy" and did not start Thursday as is usual with knuckleballer R.A. Dickey on the mound.

Jamal Collier is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Blue Jays come up empty in Baltimore

Bats can't back Happ as club falls six games back of Wild Card spot

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BALTIMORE -- The Blue Jays arrived at Camden Yards earlier this week still clinging to the hope of competing for the second American League Wild Card spot, but they leave town all but officially eliminated from the race.

Toronto likely needed a sweep to be taken seriously in a group that also included Kansas City and Seattle, but instead came away empty handed. The first two games were disappointing enough, but the last shot came Wednesday night with a 6-1 loss to the Orioles.

Left-hander J.A. Happ allowed five runs and his offense remained missing in action as the Blue Jays were outscored 19-5 in a series they absolutely had to win in order to keep their postseason dreams alive.

"We don't like to lose any games," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, whose team dropped to six games back of Kansas City for the second Wild Card spot. "We're all competitors, we play to win, they're all the same."

Toronto is technically still competing for the postseason, but with 11 games remaining, the large deficit is essentially impossible to overcome. Entering the series finale, Baseball Prospectus gave the Blue Jays a 1 percent chance of earning a Wild Card berth, and that will drop even further after Wednesday's loss.

The Blue Jays didn't score more than two runs in a single game of the series. A big reason for that was a lack of production with runners in scoring position. In the three-game set, Toronto's lineup combined to go 5-for-37 with RISP and left 25 runners on base.

There were plenty of opportunities once again for Toronto on Wednesday night. The Blue Jays had a pair of runners on in the second inning but came away empty handed, and the same could be said for a sixth inning that saw the club load the bases before pinch-hitter Steve Tolleson struck out on a foul tip.

The only run the Blue Jays were able to come away with was in the seventh, when Kevin Pillar and Ryan Goins hit back-to-back doubles. Jose Reyes' groundout then drove in Pillar. It was a rare sign of production from the bottom of the order in a lineup that hasn't had much of that lately.

"We're basically, right now, running a lot of platoons because that's who we are," Gibbons said. "The key, when you're doing that, you need to get to the starter. If we get to where we're down late and they can start going to their bullpen, [we're in trouble] because whatever hand, they have it ready. We're such an extreme team -- our lefties have a really tough time against lefties and our righties have a really tough time against righties."

Orioles first baseman Steve Pearce did most of the damage against Toronto on Tuesday night, and he had an even better performance in the finale. He got things started in the third with a solo homer off Happ and then came up again in the fifth and delivered a three-run shot. Pearce's three-run shot on Tuesday was the difference-maker, and he almost single-handedly took the final two games against Toronto.

With the exception of the at-bats to Pearce, Happ was relatively effective. He was charged with five runs -- four earned -- on eight hits and didn't walk a batter while striking out five. It was the first time in his career he allowed more than three runs in a start to Baltimore, but overall it extended his losing streak to three games. Toronto starters have now gone at least six innings in a club record 23 straight games.

"They're where they're at for a reason," Happ said of the AL East champions. "They're playing at a high level right now all around. I think, for me, the three-run home run was just lack of execution. I left the ball over the middle of the plate and that kind of turned out to be the difference. It makes you sick, but that's the one I want back."

Toronto has now lost five of its past six games since sweeping the lowly Cubs in a three-game set at Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays will head to New York on Thursday for a four-game series against the Yankees before returning to Rogers Centre for a seven-game homestand that will conclude the regular season.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


BC-Orange, two Ontario squads unbeaten at Tournament 12

TORONTO -- The power rankings are becoming clearer after the second day of round-robin play wrapped up at Tournament 12 on Thursday night.

To no surprise, it appears British Columbia-Orange and the two Ontario teams are the squads to beat.

The three powerhouses have yet to land in the loss column after British Columbia and Ontario-Green tied, 2-2, in the day's final contest, and most-anticipated game.

Josh Burgmann of British Columbia limited Ontario-Green to one hit over three innings while striking out four. Burgmann's heater touched 89 mph, unofficially the fastest fastball thrown this tournament, while he missed bats with his breaking ball, too. Ontario-Green got on the board once British Columbia turned to its bullpen in the fourth.

Tristan Pompey, the brother of Blue Jays outfielder Dalton Pompey, hit an RBI single to tie the game at 1-1. Each team added another run, but good pitching from both sides kept the bats relatively quiet, as the two squads were held to three hits apiece.

Pompey, who plays for the Toronto Mets, a well-regarded travel team, said the coaching at the tournament has been thorough and helpful. Many of the coaches have professional playing experience, including at the Major League level.

"I was saying to my brother the other day that they are very knowledgeable," Pompey said. "I'm trying to take bits and pieces from each person."

British Columbia won its first game Thursday with a 10-0 mercy-rule victory over Futures-Navy, the tournament's youngest team.

The BC squad did the majority of its damage early, chasing Hunter Spoljaric -- the son of former big leaguer Paul Spoljaric -- from the contest after 1 1/3 innings. Spoljaric was tagged for nine runs on five hits. British Columbia received contributions from many, including Trevor Lofstrom, who came through with a key hit in his team's victory Wednesday and delivered again Thursday by smacking a bases-clearing triple off Spoljaric during a seven-run second inning.

Ethan Skuija and Tyler Hoefer combined to hold the Futures to two hits while striking out eight.

Ontario-Green, meanwhile, handled Atlantic-Grey during an afternoon contest.

Ryan Rijo put the exclamation point on an 8-2 Ontario-Green win by launching a solo homer to right field in the seventh inning of the victory. The first baseman became the second player at the Tournament 12 showcase to go deep after Alberta-Red's Nolan Rattai went yard in a win over Prairies-Purple on Wednesday.

Rijo and catcher Tony Hrynkiw each reached base three times, while starter Cole White struck out six over three innings.

The first game of the day saw Ontario-Black and Quebec-Blue exit the field with a 2-2 tie. Both teams, however, got some big reinforcements back for the remainder of the tournament.

Ontario-Black welcomed Josh Naylor, who was held up in Mexico for a few days with the Canadian Junior National Team due to Hurricane Odile. The team was able to evacuate in two groups Wednesday thanks to a Mexican military aircraft, which flew the stranded squad to Tijuana, Mexico, before a bus took them to Los Angeles. From there, the group, which also featured Quebec's top player Jean-Francois Garon, took a red-eye flight back to Canada. Working on little sleep, both Garon and Naylor took to the field for the 8 a.m. ET contest.

Garon went 1-for-1, scored a run and walked three times, while Naylor was held hitless in three at-bats. It was a game dominated by pitching, particularly from the Ontario-Black side.

Starter Mat Szabo struck out nine in four frames before turning the ball over to Isaac Anesty, who fanned six over three scoreless innings of relief.

Eric Senior provided all of Ontario-Black's offense with a two-run double, while Abraham Toro had two of Quebec's four hits and scored a run.

Later in the day, Demi Orimoloye -- a member of the Canadian Junior National team who was also stranded in Mexico -- made his first appearance for Ontario-Black. Orimoloye and Naylor provide the team with the two most prolific hitters in the tournament.

Despite representing his country and participating in prestigious events year-round, playing at a Major League stadium is not something Orimoloye takes for granted.

"It's cool to step into the same batter's box as Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion," Orimoloye said. "I've always liked domes, so I like playing here."

Orimoloye and Naylor combined for three hits, three runs and four RBIs in an 11-6 win over the Prairies. Senior had a two-hit game and scored three times, while Zack Fascia drove in a game-high three runs.

The big hit of the game, however, came from the Prairies' Troy Blad, who demolished a Matt Ianni offering in the third inning. Blad, who went deep Tuesday in a pre-tournament workout, crushed the pitch into the second deck in right field, easily the furthest ball hit in game action thus far.

"It's pretty awesome," Blad said. "Off the bat, I knew it was gone."

The experience for Blad, a Manitoba native who plays for the Prairie Baseball Academy back home, has been special. He's hoping someone takes notice of his ability.

"Come to the park, play, and chill with the guys," Blad said about what he likes about the tournament. "I thought if I play good some doors may open and some opportunities may come my way."

Quebec got in the win column in its second game of the day and third of the tournament with a 5-2 win over Alberta.

Garon went 2-for-2, including a triple, walked twice and scored a pair of runs, while Tristan Paris collected two RBIs on a single to left field during a three-run first inning. Quebec stole five bases in the victory and starter Mathieu Denault-Gauthier provided his team with six solid frames of one-run ball, while striking out five to earn the win.

Alberta's Zack Kunkel, who hit a walk-off single Wednesday in a 6-5 win over the Prairies, continued his strong tournament with a three-hit effort in the loss.

All at-bats start with the count set at 1-1 and the games last seven innings.

The eight teams have been divided into two groups of four and play squads from their own bracket in the round-robin portion of the tournament, which runs through Saturday morning. Once the tournament play portion is completed, the top two teams from each group will advance to the playoff round to determine the finalists for the 2014 Tournament 12 championship, which will be played Saturday at 6 p.m. ET.

Chris Toman is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Tournament 12 gets underway with exciting slate of games

Tournament 12 gets underway with exciting slate of games

TORONTO -- If there was a lesson to be learned during the first day of games at the Tournament 12 showcase, it was to not count any team out.

Wednesday's slate of games were filled with come-from-behind victories, as the top amateur talent across the nation produced non-stop excitement at Rogers Centre.

Alberta-Red and Prairies-Purple, playing the final contest of the day, made sure to save the best for last.

The game was scoreless before a five-run fifth inning gave the Prairies, which rocked Quebec-Blue, 10-1, in its first matchup, a comfortable lead. But Alberta refused to quit.

Alberta scored two in the bottom half of the fifth, and two more in the sixth before completing the comeback by plating another pair in the seventh. Zack Kunkel delivered the final blow with a walk-off single to propel Alberta to a 6-5 win.

Nolan Rattai injected new life into his Alberta team by hitting the tournament's first home run, a shot over the left-field fence to lead off the sixth, making it a 5-3 game. It was the first time the 17-year-old had gone deep in a big league stadium. He didn't hold back his emotions, describing the home run as an "amazing" moment, but stressed how his team's result was much more important than his personal achievement.

"If we don't win that game, that bomb doesn't really feel as good at all," said Rattai, who was one of two Alberta batters with a multihit contest.

It's Rattai's second appearance at Tournament 12 after competing in the 2013 inaugural event, so he's taken on a leadership role with the team. His message to his fellow teammates is simple.

"Act like it's another day out at the park like you are at home," he said. "Just stay loose; you are here for a reason."

Before the bats came to life, starters Andrew Grieder of Alberta and the Prairies' B.J. Moen were mowing down hitters. Grieder allowed one hit and struck out six over three innings, while Moen also allowed one hit over three frames and punched out three. Moen flashed one of the better fastballs on the day, as the right-hander's heater comfortably sat in the mid-80s and topped out higher.

The Prairies, a team made up of players from Manitoba and Saskatchewan, looked like it would become the first team to win twice before Alberta pulled off the upset. It was still a strong day for the underdogs, however, as eight of the Prairies' nine hitters recorded at least one hit in the team's first game, while a trio of pitchers combined to limit Quebec to one run on two hits.

Alberta, which improved to 1-1 by defeating the Prairies, lost its first contest of the day to an Ontario-Black team missing some key components.

Even without Josh Naylor and Demi Orimoloye, Ontario-Black had little trouble topping Alberta, 6-2, in the early-morning showdown.

Naylor and Orimoloye -- considered by many, including scouts in attendance at Tournament 12, to be the top two amateur players in Canada -- were unable to make the start of the showcase after they were left stranded in Mexico with the rest of the Canadian Junior National Team due to Hurricane Odile. The team made its way out of the disaster-stricken area Wednesday after being held up in Mexico for a few days and is expected to return to Canada on Thursday, paving the way for Naylor and Orimoloye to potentially participate in the final days of the tournament.

On Wednesday, the Ontario-Black team didn't need the duo, as a collection of three pitchers, including starter Dallas Taylor, limited Alberta to one hit to improve to 1-0.

Alberta starter Kurt Meeberg held his own, punching out four over three scoreless innings, before Ontario-Black tagged Nikolas Cardinal for five runs on six hits to blow the game open.

There were plenty of more thrills on a day which saw Futures-Navy -- the youngest of eight teams -- notch a come-from-behind 4-3 victory over Atlantic-Grey on a walk-off single from Luke Van Rycheghem.

The Futures dropped its other contest, 7-3, to Ontario-Green, a team which features Tristan Pompey -- the brother of Blue Jays outfielder Dalton Pompey. The younger Pompey went 2-for-4 and scored twice in the victory.

Atlantic (0-2) also lost its first game of the day by a score of 5-2 to British Columbia-Orange, which used a combination of strong pitching and timely hitting to come out on top. British Columbia first baseman Dakota Curry put his team on the board and tied the game at 2 with a two-run double in the sixth before Trevor Lofstrom played the role of hero the following inning.

Lofstrom snapped the tie game by driving in a pair with a bases-loaded double in the seventh before British Columbia tacked on another run with a sacrifice fly later in the frame to take a three-run advantage. Matteo Vincelli struck out two in the home half of the inning to help British Columbia secure the victory. Vincelli recorded five strikeouts over two scoreless innings of relief, while starter Will McAffer fanned six over three innings.

All at-bats start with the count set at 1-1 and the games last seven innings.

The eight teams have been divided into two groups of four and play squads from their own bracket in the round-robin portion of the tournament, which runs through Saturday morning. Once the tournament play portion is completed, the top two teams from each group will advance to the playoff round to determine the finalists for the 2014 Tournament 12 championship, which will be played Saturday at 6 p.m. ET.

Chris Toman is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Blue Jays' Stroman suspended for six games

Pitcher is appealing punishment for incident in Monday's contest vs. O's

Blue Jays' Stroman suspended for six games play video for Blue Jays' Stroman suspended for six games

BALTIMORE -- Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman has decided to appeal the six-game suspension that was handed down by Major League Baseball on Wednesday afternoon for throwing near the head of Baltimore catcher Caleb Joseph.

Stroman threw a pitch over the head of Joseph during Monday night's 5-2 loss to the Orioles. The fastball appeared to be in retaliation for an incident earlier in the game when Toronto shortstop Jose Reyes felt Joseph stepped on his hand while sliding into home.

The suspension was announced by Joe Garagiola Jr., MLB's senior vice president of standards and operations. The league's statement also said that Stroman received an undisclosed fine and the decision was handed down because the pitch was intentional. That's something Stroman took issue with.

"I'd never intentionally throw at anyone. I respect the game. I respect the players way too much to ever do anything like that," Stroman said. "Family, friends, teammates know the type of individual I am. But it's tough, it's tough to go about it. It's in the appeal process now, so that's pretty much all I can say."

Stroman also mentioned that he was in the process of reaching out to Joseph through a mutual friend. Stroman wasn't sure when his hearing with the league would take place, but it's possible that will happen at some point during Toronto's upcoming four-game series in New York which starts Thursday.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter was content with the league's disciplinary action.

"Like I said at the time, I had a lot of confidence MLB would look at it and do what needs to be done," Showalter said. "I have a lot of confidence that when something like that happens and emotions of players get in the way of good decisions, that the league office will remind them that certain things aren't tolerated."

The suspension was scheduled to begin Wednesday night but instead has been delayed until Stroman can make his case. The pitch sparked some angry words from Baltimore's dugout and likely played a role in O's right-hander Darren O'Day hitting Jose Bautista on his backside Tuesday night.

"I would never do that," Stroman said of trying to intentionally hit someone. "You guys see me around the clubhouse all the time. I don't have a bad intention bone in my body. That's the last thing I'd ever do. I respect this game way too much. I respect players, teammates, coaches way too much, and it's just something I have to deal with."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"event":["prospect" ] }

Hurricane Odile delays Canadian Junior National Team

Category 3 storm prevents players from competing in Tournament 12 showcase

Hurricane Odile delays Canadian Junior National Team

Mother Nature wreaked havoc on Canada's largest amateur baseball event.

Hurricane Odile, a Category 3 storm which caused severe damage after touching down in northern Mexico on Sunday, delayed the return home of the Canadian Junior National Team, leaving the group stranded over 1,864 miles away while their peers competed in the Tournament 12 showcase at Rogers Centre. The hurricane battered the Los Cabos airport in Mexico, causing closures and leaving tourists in the region unable to travel for days.

But the good news is that the staff and players, who helped Canada win bronze at the COPABE 18U Pan American Championship in La Paz and Los Cabos, are safe and on their way out of the affected region.

A group of 20 left for Tijuana, Mexico, via a military plane on Wednesday, and will then bus to Los Angeles before flying back to Canada. There is a second group, including some of the players' parents, who were expected to leave later Wednesday. It's unlikely that any of the groups will fly out of Los Angeles to return to Canada until Thursday.

Jim Baba, the director general of Baseball Canada, said there had been very little communication with those stranded in Mexico until a satellite phone call Wednesday provided the latest update. The team's final plans were then communicated to Baseball Canada president Ray Carter through an email.

The Canadian squad was at one point working with USA Baseball, which was also trapped in the region, on getting a charter flight out of the country en route to San Antonio.

Some of Canada's most prolific youth talents will miss at least over half of the Tournament 12 -- a five-day event featuring the best draft-eligible players in the country -- as a result of the hurricane, and their availability for the rest of the prestigious competition is unclear. While not all members of the Junior National Team were scheduled to take part in the event due to commitments to professional teams and schools, Josh Naylor, Demi Orimoloye and Mike Soroka -- three key members of the program who were featured on the official Tournament 12 program -- are absent.

"Maybe they can come here Friday or Saturday [the last day of the event] and participate," Baba said.

Chris Toman is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"event":["prospect" ] }
{"content":["injury" ] }

Navarro out of lineup after taking foul tip off mask

Navarro out of lineup after taking foul tip off mask play video for Navarro out of lineup after taking foul tip off mask

BALTIMORE -- Dioner Navarro was held out of the Blue Jays' starting lineup Wednesday night for precautionary reasons after being struck on the mask by a foul tip the day before.

Navarro was hit by a foul tip during the middle stages of an 8-2 loss to the Orioles on Tuesday night. He was knocked to the ground, but after getting checked, remained in the game and went on to have an additional at-bat.

The veteran catcher felt "fuzzy" but passed a concussion test after the game and isn't expected to miss a lot of time. In addition to Wednesday's game, Navarro also will sit out on Thursday in New York with knuckleballer R.A. Dickey on the mound, but he then should be good to go.

"I'm feeling good," Navarro said. "I just got a little fuzzy last night after that foul tip. I think it was just an accumulation of foul tips in the head -- can never be a good thing. I felt that one last night and [manager John Gibbons] decided to give me a day off."

Navarro has been a pleasant surprise with the bat for Toronto this season. He is hitting .282 with 12 homers and 68 RBIs while appearing in a career-high 131 games.

Worth noting

The start time for the Blue Jays' game against the Orioles on Sept. 27 at Rogers Centre has been pushed back to 4:07 p.m. ET.

The game originally was scheduled to start at 1:07 p.m. but has been moved to accommodate a television broadcast. Toronto will then wrap up its season the following day with a matinee affair against Baltimore.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["injury" ] }

Hutchison roughed up as Blue Jays fall to Orioles

Right-hander stung by early homers; Baltimore clinches AL East title

Hutchison roughed up as Blue Jays fall to Orioles play video for Hutchison roughed up as Blue Jays fall to Orioles

BALTIMORE -- The Blue Jays entered each of the past two seasons with grand aspirations of winning the American League East but instead spent their Septembers watching other teams celebrate just a few feet away.

For the second consecutive year, Toronto had to watch another team run onto the field as fireworks exploded in the sky and streamers came down from the upper deck. Last season it was Boston, and this year it was Baltimore after the Blue Jays' 8-2 loss to the Orioles on Tuesday at Camden Yards.

The Blue Jays slumped away into the night after right-hander Drew Hutchison allowed six runs and his offense struggled for the second consecutive game. The loss is yet another serious blow to Toronto's chances for a Wild Card spot, and this time it might be impossible to overcome.

"You never know who's going to win, but I think you'd be crazy to think they didn't have a good ballclub," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said when asked if the Orioles as division champs would have surprised him earlier this season. "They were in it two years ago. ... When you look at their team, it's a solid ballclub. Solid pitching, all-around players, they have gritty hard-nosed type players."

The loss meant the Blue Jays remained five games back of the Royals for the second AL Wild Card spot. The win for Baltimore meant the club clinched its ninth AL East title, and first since 1997.

Hutchison entered play having allowed six earned runs over his previous 31 1/3 innings, but he wasn't nearly as effective in this one. Steve Pearce's three-run homer in the first and a solo shot by Jimmy Paredes to lead off the second were the difference-makers in a game Toronto wasn't in for very long.

Hutchison did eventually settle down and at one point retired 15 of 17, but by then it was too late. Baltimore had a lead it would not relinquish and then put the game away in the seventh when Alejandro De Aza hit a bases-loaded triple off reliever Aaron Loup.

In 12 games from Aug. 27-Sept. 9, the Blue Jays' pitching staff allowed four homers over 108 1/3 innings. Since then, it has allowed 12 homers over 53 innings. Despite the disappointing result, Toronto starters have pitched at least six innings in 22 consecutive games, which is the most in franchise history.

"You have to be better," said Hutchison, who struck out 11. "Obviously, I was good at times, but you can't come out flat like that. It's just not acceptable. First inning, I made some good pitches and then I made a bad pitch."

Toronto struck first for the second consecutive night when Jose Bautista walked and came around to score on an RBI double by Edwin Encarnacion in the first inning. The Blue Jays added another in the second after Munenori Kawasaki and Kevin Pillar earned back-to-back walks and Jose Reyes hit an RBI single.

There was hope for a lot more with inconsistent right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez on the mound, but that was all the Blue Jays could muster. Jimenez got into a groove and retired the final 10 batters he faced before turning things over to the bullpen in the sixth inning.

The Blue Jays have now lost four of their past five games to fall even further behind the Royals and Mariners. Toronto has dropped consecutive series for the first time since Aug. 22-27 and lost three straight games for the first time since Aug. 24-26.

"They beat us the last couple of nights, our guys are out there trying, they're busting like they've been doing all year," Gibbons said. "I don't expect that to change."

When Ryan Goins grounded out to end the game, a large celebration ensued at Camden Yards. Orioles players rushed onto the field, and even an hour after the last pitch there were still fans milling about the stadium and music blaring over the loud speakers.

It was an electric environment, and one that the Blue Jays originally hoped to be a part of when they had a six-game lead over Baltimore on June 6. A lot went wrong since that time, and while it's not over yet, the Blue Jays still have to be wondering what could have been.

"That's what you want," Hutchison said of pitching in that environment. "Obviously the result isn't, and watching what we had to watch is probably the worst thing you can experience as a player. And it's something you never want to have to experience again. We still have some games left here and we know what the odds are and all that, but we just have to win as much we can and see what happens."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Anthopoulos not tipping hand on Gibbons' status

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BALTIMORE -- Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos is notorious for keeping internal matters close to the vest. And even when it comes to manager John Gibbons, he's not tipping his hand.

There has been plenty of uncertainty regarding Gibbons' job security after two disappointing seasons in Toronto. The Blue Jays were unable to live up to the hype in 2013, and while they have yet to be eliminated this season, the chances for a postseason berth are not looking good.

Anthopoulos sat down with a group of reporters prior to Tuesday night's game vs. the Orioles, and one of the topics that came up was the status of his manager. Most front-office executives normally would have come out with a vote of confidence regardless of their future intentions, but Anthopoulos chose a different path.

"He's under contract," Anthopoulos said when asked if he was going to take care of the situation. "He's always under contract, pretty much. I don't think there's anything to take care of and I think he has done a good job."

The "always under contract" is in reference to the unique structure of Gibbons' agreement with Toronto. If he remains with the organization past Dec. 31, an additional year gets tacked onto his contract. For example, he's already under contract for 2015, and if he's still employed on Jan. 1, 2015, then another season automatically gets added to the deal.

The purpose of that structure was to make sure that Gibbons never entered "lame-duck" status in his job. The intentions were good, but at some point the Blue Jays will have to make a decision about his future.

While Anthopoulos' initial comments weren't necessarily definitive, they prompted a question about whether Gibbons will be back.

"He's under contract," Anthopoulos reiterated. "I've said this before, I'm a big believer that no matter what position -- grounds crew, administrative assistant, manager, coach -- you support them until you don't support them.

"Until they're no longer in this position, you support them. That position is going to be that way -- whether you're 100 games over .500 or we're struggling. We always support our staff."

So Anthopoulos supports Gibbons?

"Every employee," Anthopoulos said. "I wouldn't make anything more of this."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["clemente_award" ] }

Redmond named Blue Jays' nominee for Clemente Award

Redmond named Blue Jays' nominee for Clemente Award play video for Redmond named Blue Jays' nominee for Clemente Award

BALTIMORE -- Right-hander Todd Redmond is the Blue Jays' nominee for this year's Roberto Clemente Award which honors the Major League Baseball player who best represents the game through positive contributions on and off the field.

Each club nominates one team member in an effort to pay tribute to Clemente's achievements and character by recognizing current players who truly understand the value of helping others. The community award is handed out annually at the World Series, and last year it went to Carlos Beltran.

"I feel extremely proud of the support that Major League Baseball and Chevy provides to our communities," said Vera Clemente, Clemente's widow and an MLB goodwill ambassador who helps present the award each fall. "I know Roberto would be honored to know the way today's players support multiple causes. ... They are truly role models for today's generation."

Redmond shaved his head this spring to help raise funds for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. The PCF is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to funding research to eliminate childhood cancer. Redmond is also well known for participating in Toronto community events and taking time for fans.

There were more than 1.3 million fan votes last year, and fans can start voting again for the overall winner on Wednesday at, which is powered by MLB Advanced Media. Voting ends on Oct. 6, and participating fans will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip to next month's World Series.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["clemente_award" ] }
{"event":["prospect" ] }

Canadian amateur stars set for Tournament 12

Second annual Rogers Centre event a showcase for teams, schools

Canadian amateur stars set for Tournament 12 play video for Canadian amateur stars set for Tournament 12

TORONTO -- The top youth baseball talent from Canada will call Rogers Centre home for the next week. Tournament 12, an amateur baseball showcase featuring 160 of the best First-Year Player Draft-eligible players nationwide, began Tuesday at the Blue Jays' home stadium.

The second installment of the five-day event began with an all-day workout, where players were evaluated on their hitting, fielding and running abilities in front of a large contingent of Major League scouts and college recruiters from the United States.

After a successful inaugural event in 2013, Tournament 12 commissioner and Hall of Fame second baseman Roberto Alomar is excited for the encore.

"I'm really happy. I'm devoted to the youth here in Canada," Alomar said. "But this is not all about me. It's a group of people who have put this together.

"I'm really glad that we've continued to grow, and hopefully we can have the same tournament for many years to come."

Alomar was instrumental in making this tournament come to fruition, and for lowering the costs attached to the players involved.

This past January, Alomar approached the Jays Care Foundation -- the charitable wing of the Blue Jays -- and pitched an idea to get involved in fundraising events. The board of the Jays Care Foundation signed off, and Alomar did a number of events throughout Canada, raising $100,000 for the tournament.

It has made a monumental difference for some families. Last year, a player traveling from British Columbia paid an average of $1,400 for the event, including hotel, meal and flight expenditures. This year, the price is $330 for an out-of-province player and $200 for Ontario residents.

"All the money that was raised was used to help subsidize and make that opportunity a lot better, so kids weren't turning it down for financial reasons," said Rob Jack, the tournament operations manager. "We wanted to make sure all the best players were here, regardless of economic circumstances."

The showcase will continue with an eight-team tournament starting Wednesday, and it lasts until Saturday's championship.

Each roster, which is determined by geographical region, is guaranteed to play a minimum of five games and will receive instruction from former Blue Jays players Duane Ward, Lloyd Moseby and Devon White, in addition to some of the most respected amateur coaches from around the country.

The eight teams will be divided into two groups of four to play squads from their own bracket in a round-robin style format. Once the tournament play portion is completed, the top two teams from each group will advance to the playoff round and duel it out until a winner is produced.

There are eight teams instead of the 10 that were represented a year ago, and the crop of players has been trimmed from 240 to 160.

"The thought pattern was, 'Let's make this really the elite of the elite, and let's get them more at-bats,'" Jack said. "It's more, 'Let's take the group and make it smaller. Let's take the really elite group and get them the most amount of exposure we can possibly get.'"

If history repeats itself, every team will have a chance to win, despite how loaded some teams appear to be on paper.

Last year, it was an underdog Maritimes squad that pulled off an upset, defeating one of the two highly regarded teams representing Quebec to win the first Tournament 12 championship.

The star attractions of the 2013 showcase were Gareth Morgan, Josh Naylor and Demi Orimoloye -- a trio of Ontario natives who recently helped Canada's Junior National Team place third at the Under 18 Pan American championship in Mexico.

Morgan, a second-round pick by the Seattle Mariners in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, is not at this year's event after graduating to the professional circuit. Both Naylor and Orimoloye return to headline the 2014 class.

"A lot of the kids are really excited," Alomar said. "It's about getting an opportunity in life, and this is a big opportunity, which is why I say to them, 'Embrace this opportunity, because it could be your only chance.'"

Many of the players haven't participated in a showcase like this before. Tournament 12 is a one-stop shop for scouts and recruiters to receive a firsthand look at the top talent residing in Canada. For some, it's a chance to further promote their stock, while for others, it's a chance to put themselves on the map.

"The real intention is just to bring more exposure to Canadian players," Jack said. "We thought that if we can centralize it, to make it easier on the scouts just to come to one location, and they can see the best players in the country over the course of five days, we could kind of bring some profile to it."

Jack estimated that over 60 schools from the United States would be represented, in addition to scouts from every MLB team.

It will afford the group of players a chance to play in front of interested eyes, and if last year's event is any indication, it can have a profound impact.

New Brunswick native Andrew Case made a strong impression in the showcase with his 90-plus mph fastball, and by twirling a seven-inning no-hit masterpiece. Case's dominance throughout the tournament ultimately parlayed itself into a contract with the Blue Jays. The 21-year-old spent this past season with the Vancouver Canadians, a Blue Jays Class A short-season affiliate, where he pitched to a 2.45 ERA over 24 appearances.

"He's a huge success story," Jack said. "The goal of the tournament is to get the most amount of exposure for Canadian-born players. Andrew Case is just the feather in the cap because he signed professionally."

The Tournament 12 players were selected by the Blue Jays Baseball Academy, with assistance from the Blue Jays' scouting department, Baseball Canada and the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau. All tournament games will be umpired by members of the Baseball Canada High Performance Program for Canadian Umpires.

Chris Toman is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"event":["prospect" ] }

Blue Jays maintain no ill intent by Stroman

Blue Jays maintain no ill intent by Stroman play video for Blue Jays maintain no ill intent by Stroman

BALTIMORE -- One day after right-hander Marcus Stroman was issued a warning for throwing a pitch up and in to Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph, the Blue Jays maintained there wasn't any intent to cause harm.

Stroman threw a fastball over the head of Joseph during Monday night's 5-2 loss to Baltimore. The pitch came one inning after Toronto shortstop Jose Reyes got into a verbal altercation with Joseph at home plate. Reyes felt that Joseph blocked the plate and stepped on his hand while sliding into home.

Following the game, Orioles manager Buck Showalter was clearly upset and described the pitch from Stroman as being "borderline professionally embarrassing."

Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos understands the frustration but insists Stroman wasn't intentionally doing anything wrong.

"I understand the other side being upset about it, we would be the same," Anthopoulos said. "It's understandable, but the fortunate part about it is that no one got hurt. I know Marcus is contrite about it, and that wasn't his intention at all."

"The last thing I would ever want to do is throw at somebody's head, that's not my intention at all," Stroman said. "I'm sorry that the ball slipped out of my hand and got away from me in the head region, that's the last thing I would ever want to do to Caleb or anyone in the league. I have too much respect for the game, too much respect for players to ever do something like that.

"I know that's exactly what it looked like, but anyone that knows me -- my teammates, my family, my friends, everyone -- knows I'm not that type of individual, that's the last thing I'd ever do in this game.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said he had yet to hear whether Major League Baseball would be taking any disciplinary action against Stroman. He also understood Baltimore's reaction to the pitch, but then defended his team's track record throughout the season.

"I think we're all in agreement, the ball should never go near anybody's head," Gibbons said. "If you look at our team this year, I would venture to say we've had less problems with other teams than any team in baseball. That's probably fair to say. So we're not a trouble-making team."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Missed opportunities cost Blue Jays in Baltimore

Stroman struggles as Wild Card deficit pushed to five games

Missed opportunities cost Blue Jays in Baltimore play video for Missed opportunities cost Blue Jays in Baltimore

BALTIMORE -- The Blue Jays' streaky offense has been the cause of many ups and downs this season, but it's the latest dip in production that could have the club watching from afar in October.

Toronto has been playing the last week with almost no margin for error as it attempts to gain ground in the American League Wild Card race. The only way that could have happened was if the offense got hot at the right time, but it was missing in action during Monday night's 5-2 loss to the Orioles at Camden Yards.

The Blue Jays missed a series of golden opportunities to come through with men on base while right-hander Marcus Stroman allowed five runs. The loss meant Toronto dropped to five games back of the second Wild Card spot with 13 games to play.

"We have to take advantage when we have the shots," manager John Gibbons said. "Both teams had a lot of hits; we didn't get any with guys in scoring position, really, all night."

The Blue Jays actually got off to a hot start, as Jose Reyes, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion began the game with three consecutive singles. That brought one run in, and there was the possibility for more with nobody out and runners on the corners.

The golden opportunity was wasted as Danny Valencia and Dioner Navarro each struck out and John Mayberry Jr. was robbed on a diving catch by right fielder Nick Markakis. It was just the start of what turned into a long night of "should haves" for Toronto.

The Blue Jays had multiple runners on base in five different innings but couldn't come up with the big hit. They went 3-for-16 with runners in scoring position and left 11 runners on base. That was the difference in the game as left-hander Wei-Yin Chen survived 5 2/3 innings of two-run baseball to earn his 16th win of the season.

"We should have scored a couple of more runs there," Reyes said. "But sometimes you have to give credit to the pitcher, the guy on the mound. He made quality pitches and got out of that inning. That stuff happens sometimes."

Stroman arguably has been Toronto's most valuable pitcher during the second half of the season, but he struggled in his first career appearance against a powerful O's lineup. The 23-year-old allowed four singles in the first, and while none of them were particularly well hit, it still resulted in a pair of runs.

Baltimore added another run in the third on an RBI single by Nelson Cruz, but the big blow came in the fifth. Stroman hung a first-pitch curveball to Ryan Flaherty, and the Orioles' infielder sent it over the wall in right field for a two-run homer. That proved to be the turning point and gave the Orioles a 5-1 lead they would not relinquish.

Flaherty's home run was the third allowed by Stroman since June 23, as a big part of his success this season has been an ability to keep the ball on the ground. Stroman continued on and made it through six innings, but he also allowed the five runs on nine hits and two walks with just three strikeouts. Despite the disappointing result, Blue Jays starters have gone at least six innings in 21 consecutive games.

"I struggled with command from the beginning," Stroman said. "I felt like when I did make a good pitch, they somehow found a way to find a hole and sneak one through, kind of keep things rolling. Definitely a hard day."

The Orioles' win means their magic number is one, and a win either Tuesday or Wednesday vs. Toronto would clinch the division. The Blue Jays had to watch Boston clinch the AL East last year, and it's something the club obviously hopes to avoid this season.

More importantly for Toronto, though, are the 13 games remaining in the season. The Blue Jays might need to win every one of those to have a realistic shot at October baseball. Kansas City's win over the White Sox on Monday increased the deficit in the Wild Card race, but Toronto also is chasing Seattle.

It's technically not impossible, but it will require two collapses and one epic comeback for the Blue Jays' season to be extended.

"We're on the fringe," Gibbons admitted. "We have a very, slim, outside shot to get to the playoffs, but we're fighting every night to try to win games."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Blue Jays respond to PETA's concern

BALTIMORE -- The Blue Jays' organization will at least pause and think twice before allowing animals into its clubhouse after PETA raised concerns about a recent incident in Toronto.

Left-hander Mark Buehrle was part of a small group of players who organized a visit of lion and tiger cubs from the local Bowmanville Zoo. Photos from the pregame event surfaced on social media, and while most of it was positively received, PETA had a different take.

The animal rights group sent a letter to the Blue Jays asking the ballclub to stop allowing these types of activities. PETA claimed the Bowmanville Zoo has a history of neglecting animals and stated that "there's nothing sporting about subjecting a terrified baby animal to excessive handling in a noisy, unfamiliar locker room."

"I thought there were some very salient points," Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said on Tuesday. "I thought it was very well written and certainly respect everyone's opinion on the matter. There were some things, like they mentioned, that we weren't aware of, and if in 35 years from now, or whenever, something like that was to be brought to us again, we'll consider all angles."

The 35 years refers to the fact that this is the first time in franchise history the Blue Jays have been criticized by PETA. Anthopoulos also pointed out that the organization wasn't aware that Buehrle had arranged for a visit from the zoo until after the event already had taken place.

"I think the letter said it best, there was no intention there, we don't know what's going on between zoos and the PETA," Anthopoulos said. "I'm not familiar with it, it's not fair for me to comment, but I thought it was well written. There were some valid points and, again, in 30 something years from now someone decides to do that again, it's something we'll take under consideration."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Benches warned after Stroman nearly hits Joseph

Toronto starter throws near head of O's catcher in apparent retaliation for blocking plate earlier

Benches warned after Stroman nearly hits Joseph play video for Benches warned after Stroman nearly hits Joseph

BALTIMORE -- Marcus Stroman smirked toward the Orioles' dugout after striking out the side in the sixth inning with a warning blow mixed in.

O's manager Buck Showalter shook his head. "That's bad," he appeared to say. Stroman threw behind Caleb Joseph to start the final at-bat of the sixth as apparent retaliation for a play in the fifth.

"Borderline professionally embarrassing," is how Showalter described the series of events by the Blue Jays.

Joseph blocked the plate as Jose Reyes came home to score in the fifth inning. The shortstop slid in headfirst and felt Joseph step on his hand. Reyes pointed to the plate and made a complaint to home-plate umpire Ted Barrett.

"I felt like he stepped on my hand for no reason," Reyes said. "I thought he stepped on my hand. But that's in the past."

"I was just trying to make a play there," Joseph said.

At the end of the sixth inning, Joseph came to bat for the first time since the incident. Stroman threw the first pitch over Joseph's head, and the catcher ducked out of the way.

Barrett immediately warned both benches.

"There's life outside of baseball, you know?" Joseph said. "I have a wife and a baby on the way. Those are the type of things that go through your head when that kind of stuff happens."

Stroman struck out Joseph six pitches later before leaving the game. The rookie used 15 pitches to strike out the side and wasn't called for any other balls on inside pitches during the inning. He did, however, throw a pair of balls well outside the zone, including one in the dirt.

"It kind of just slipped out of my hand," Stroman said. "It was late in the game, I got two big strikeouts, I'm a little excited, trying to get out of the inning."

Toronto manager John Gibbons declined to comment on the pitch.

Throws at the head have become a scary reality during the past week. Giancarlo Stanton took an 88-mph fastball to the head on Thursday and suffered multiple lacerations and facial fractures. His season could be over. On that same night, Yankees third baseman Chase Headley was hit in the face with a pitch and needed stitches.

Joseph nearly became the latest victim.

"If you look at the history of what's going on, it should never happen, especially at the head," Showalter said. "It's a hot button, especially for what reason?

"I'll let Toronto take care of that, and I'm sure the league office will do what needs to be done. ... I'm still trying to figure out what they're mad about."

David Wilson is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Gibbons loses challenge on close play at second

Gibbons loses challenge on close play at second play video for Gibbons loses challenge on close play at second

BALTIMORE -- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons lost his challenge of a disputed call at second base during the ninth inning of Monday night's 5-2 loss to the Orioles.

With runners on first and second in the top of the ninth, Edwin Encarnacion hit a slow chopper to shortstop. J.J. Hardy fielded the ball and made a clean throw to second base for what appeared to be the second out.

Second baseman Jonathan Schoop dropped the ball while transferring it to his bare hand, but that happened after he touched second. Gibbons came out to argue the call, thinking there might have been an outside chance Jose Bautista beat the throw.

"I thought he might have got his foot in there," Gibbons said.

That wasn't the case and following a brief delay, the call on the field was confirmed. Danny Valencia then grounded out to third base as the game came to an end.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Tournament 12 to showcase top Canadian high school talent

Tournament 12 to showcase top Canadian high school talent

One of the biggest opportunities for young baseball players from north of the border now awaits them right at home.

Thanks to the Toronto Blue Jays, Hall of Fame second baseman Roberto Alomar and the Jays Care Foundation, the second annual Tournament 12 will give the top Draft-eligible Canadian high school talent a chance to showcase their skills in front of dozens of scouts and college recruiters on the big league stage at Rogers Centre.

"I'm getting used to seeing a lot of talent in Canada," Alomar said. "I've been here for the last three years and I've seen the progress in baseball. I'm not surprised by it, and it's going to continue to grow. I'm just happy to be a part of it. Hopefully we can see more and more Canadians get the opportunity to sign professionally or go to college."

The inaugural event at Rogers Centre took place last September, and it was a huge success for all those involved. Eight players from the tournament were drafted the 2014 First-Year Player Draft, many have earned post-secondary scholarships and the Blue Jays signed free agent Andrew Case four days after the tournament ended.

In two appearances in the first Tournament 12, the right-hander from Saint John, New Brunswick, threw nine no-hit innings with 19 strikeouts. Case spent this season with Class A Short-Season Vancouver, and he posted a 2.45 ERA through 24 games and 44 innings, with 37 strikeouts.

"To be honest, I don't know what I would be doing without baseball," Case said. "I went to Tournament 12 with that mentality of trying to get a pro contract, because if I didn't, I don't know what I would be doing. It worked out and I couldn't be happier really. I wouldn't change it for anything ... my dream came true."

In a pre-tournament reception for the participants at Rogers Centre on Monday night, Alomar addressed the players of the upcoming event and made it clear that he would love to see many more dreams come to fruition.

"It's a great opportunity for you guys," Alomar said to the crowd. "When I was your age, I had dreams. We all have dreams here, and we want to help you accomplish yours. But to be able to accomplish that dream, you have to work hard and you have to believe in yourself."

Alomar shared his belief in the tournament and its players with the Jays Care Foundation earlier this year, hoping they could work together to help even the playing ground for all of the participants. In the inaugural year of the event, the cost to play varied and was higher for those from out of province than for those from the area.

Jays Care Foundation was convinced by Alomar to get involved with the event, and together they made a $100,000 donation to Tournament 12 to subsidize the costs for players from across the country.

"To see Robbie's genuine passion for helping to raise the profile of Canadian ballplayers coast to coast, how could we say no?" said Jamie Haggarty, a member of the board of directors of Jays Care. "Robbie's just genuine, a guy who wants to help raise [the players'] chance of getting discovered, whether it's a scholarship or MLB.

"It was a significant investment from the foundation and it's also one of the larger sources of funds for Tournament 12, and we couldn't be prouder."

Similar to the first event, teams will be coached by former Canadian Major Leaguers, Minor Leaguers and college players, with guest coaches and Blue Jays alumni including Alomar, his father Sandy Alomar Sr., George Bell, Mario Diaz, Lloyd Moseby, Tanyon Sturtze, Duane Ward and Devon White.

A few significant changes to the tournament were made from the first year to the event taking place through Saturday. This year, there are eight teams of 20 players, down from 10 teams of 22. Every at-bat starts with an open count, unlike the inaugural event, when each hitter began with one ball and one strike.

"The format is much better, because the hitters are going to get more at-bats, the pitchers are going to get more innings, and the more talent out there, the better it is for everyone," Alomar said. "And it's going to be even more fun than last year."

Blue Jays advisor Paul Quantrill, who played 14 years in the Majors, didn't get the kind of chance now offered to young Canadian players, having to cross the border when he was trying to come up and make it in the game. Taking in the Tournament 12 experience, the Ontario-born pitcher is excited about what the event means for Canadian baseball.

"This is a big opportunity," Quantrill said. "Tournaments in the past there have always been a lot of great kids there, but it's not always the best. Of course, this selection process isn't perfect, but it's the best we can do and they did a wonderful job -- it's pretty much most of the very best kids from across Canada.

"They're in front of so many [recruiters and scouts] at one time, this doesn't happen anywhere else. I've never seen it in the U.S. or anywhere. It's a wonderful opportunity for the boys, and I hope most of them understand that.

"Sandy Alomar had a great piece of advice when we were talking to a few of the young men, and he said, 'Make sure to express yourself and not try to impress people,' and that's very important for the kids to go out there and be themselves. There's no way they won't get noticed if they're good, because there are a lot of people watching."

Alexis Brudnicki is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


After ninth-inning heroics, Toronto falls in 10

Blue Jays remain four games back of second AL Wild Card spot

After ninth-inning heroics, Toronto falls in 10 play video for After ninth-inning heroics, Toronto falls in 10

TORONTO -- Every loss hurts, but when it's coming down to the wire in a Wild Card race, they can sting a little bit more. The Blue Jays battled back from a four-run deficit late, but couldn't complete the comeback in a 10-inning, 6-5 loss to the Rays at Rogers Centre on Sunday.

"This time of year, where we're at, there's really no room for error," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, whose squad lost an opportunity to gain ground in the American League Wild Card race, remaining four games behind for the second spot.  

"It's always tough, too, when you battle back and it's one of those games where not much is happening, and you strike quick. The momentum's on your side, and everyone is upbeat. ... You end up dropping it like that, those are always tough. This time of year, considering where we're at, it's especially tough."

For 7 1/2 innings, it looked like the Rays were on their way to an easy series-clinching victory, carrying a 5-1 lead into the bottom of the eighth. But the Blue Jays wouldn't roll over and rallied for three in the eighth on an Adam Lind homer, before John Mayberry Jr. swatted a two-out, solo shot in the bottom of the ninth to knot the game at 5 and send it to extra innings.

It was Mayberry's fourth pinch-hit homer of the season, which came on a fourth-pitch, 98-mph fastball from Jake McGee.

"Today, if the ball goes an inch or two lower, it's not a home run. Just today, I definitely missed my spot," said McGee, who was the winning pitcher on the afternoon, despite registering his fourth blown save.

Luckily for him, the Rays were able to scrape together one more run in the top of the 10th. Blue Jays reliever Brandon Morrow walked Wil Myers to lead off the inning, before Myers advanced to third on a single from Logan Forsythe, giving Tampa Bay runners on the corners with no outs. Former Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar, despite a chorus of boos, walked to load the bases, and Sean Rodriguez brought home the winning run with a sac fly.

Brandon Gomes and Jeff Beliveau combined for a scoreless inning in the bottom half to shut down the top of the Toronto order, clinching the series for the Rays.

Toronto starter Mark Buehrle, who'd had considerable success against the Rays this season, was knocked around for nine hits and four runs, and Todd Redmond allowed a solo shot to Escobar in the top of the eighth.

Buehrle said that considering the Blue Jays' position in the playoff race, a close loss is a bitter pill to swallow.

"Obviously, we don't like the position we're in with the teams in front of us," said Buehrle, who worked six innings. "If there is one in front of us for a playoff position, it would be a different story. But I think we all know we're not in a good position, and we need some help from other teams, but at the same time, we have to worry about ourselves and win the games we're playing."

After allowing two in the third, Buehrle gave up two more earned runs in the fourth.

Rays starter Chris Archer, meanwhile, was nearly flawless through six innings, allowing only a pair of singles and a pair of walks. It wasn't until the seventh that the Blue Jays' offense showed signs of life, when Edwin Encarnacion went deep to left with a solo shot to make it a 4-1 game.

After Escobar launched his solo shot to left in the eighth, it was 5-1 until the Blue Jays went to work on reliever Grant Balfour. Jose Reyes and Jose Bautista swatted back-to-back singles to give Toronto a pair of runners with one away, before Lind made it a one-run game with a three-run shot to left, preceding Mayberry's homer to send the game to extra innings.

The Blue Jays hit the road for a seven-game road trip to Baltimore and New York before returning home next Monday for their final homestand of the season.

Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Rasmus starts after two weeks on bench

Rasmus starts after two weeks on bench play video for Rasmus starts after two weeks on bench

TORONTO -- Colby Rasmus was in the Blue Jays' starting lineup on Sunday for the first time since being relegated to a bench role two weeks ago.

Rasmus hit sixth and played center field in the Blue Jays' series finale against the Rays at Rogers Centre.

The 28-year-old, who is set to become a free agent in the offseason, had been the club's everyday center fielder since he joined the team midway through the 2011 season. He had a breakout year in '13, hitting 22 homers with a .276 average in 118 games, but he hasn't been able to repeat that success. Rasmus has struggled at the plate for much of this season, hitting .229 with 18 homers in 101 games, and he's watched his OPS fall to .748 from .840 last season entering play Sunday.

Rasmus missed more than a month between May and June with a hamstring injury, opening the door for Anthony Gose and Kevin Pillar to strut their stuff in a center-field platoon.

Since being moved to a part-time role, Rasmus has appeared in six games, going 3-for-7 with two homers, including a game-winning solo-homer in the Blue Jays' extra-innings win over the Rays on Sept. 4.

Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Two challenges go Blue Jays' way in loss to Rays

Two challenges go Blue Jays' way in loss to Rays play video for Two challenges go Blue Jays' way in loss to Rays

TORONTO -- A pair of challenges in the Rays' 6-5, 10-inning win over the Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon went in Toronto's favor.

With two outs in the third inning, Brandon Guyer lined a ball down the right-field line off Blue Jays starter Mark Buehrle and tried to stretch the hit into a triple with a hard slide into third.

Jose Bautista fielded the ball and threw to second baseman Ryan Goins, who fired to third baseman Danny Valencia. Rays manager Joe Maddon challenged the call, believing that Guyer's foot snuck under Valencia's tag.

Tom Hallion's umpiring crew confirmed the call on the field after a 1 minute and 10 second review.

The Rays have had 44 instant replay challenges this season. Of those, 18 have been overturned, 13 have stood and 13 have been confirmed.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons was successful in challenging a missed fan interference call in the top of the eighth inning.

Rays batter Logan Forsythe led off the inning with a pop fly into foul territory that was tracked by Bautista, who hustled across the foul line to make the catch on a playable ball. But a fan reached up and made the catch instead.  

The ball was initially ruled foul, but after a 1 minute and 56 second review, the call was overturned and Forsythe was ruled out.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for Jamie Ross is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Lind's big swing helps Toronto keep WC in sight

First baseman hits go-ahead homer; Dickey goes seven strong

Lind's big swing helps Toronto keep WC in sight play video for Lind's big swing helps Toronto keep WC in sight

TORONTO -- Adam Lind broke out of a deep homer slump in a major way on Saturday afternoon to help the Blue Jays past the Rays.

Lind smacked his first homer since late June in the seventh, and Edwin Encarnacion followed with one of his own on the next pitch as Toronto beat Tampa Bay, 6-3, at Rogers Centre, setting the table for the rubber match on Sunday.

"I guess I hit it to the right part of the ballpark," Lind said. I just kept sprinting. I think it's been since June since I hit a home run, which is about the longest in my life, since my first home run. It's nice to join the party."

The Blue Jays, who have won 10 of their last 13 games, entered the day four games out of an American League Wild Card spot, and they could potentially gain some ground with the victory, with Cleveland, Seattle, Oakland and Kansas City -- the teams ahead of Toronto -- yet to play.

Lind's homer came on a fourth-pitch changup that reliever Brad Boxberger left over the outer part of the plate. Lind, who has hits in 14 of his last 17 games against the Rays, hung with it and drove the ball over the wall in center field, bringing home Jose Bautista with his fifth dinger of the season to make it 5-3, Toronto.

"I just left it up. I wasn't locating today, or really the last couple of outings," Boxberger said of the decisive pitch to Lind. "I left it way up."

Boxberger was relieved by Steve Geltz, whose first pitch to Encarnacion was rocketed to the second deck in left. It marked the eighth time this season the Blue Jays have gone deep back-to-back.

Toronto starter R.A. Dickey earned the win, giving up three runs and striking out five in seven innings. The knuckleballer, who improved his record to 13-12, tossed his 20th quality start and is now unbeaten in his last five outings.

"You know with this team, you're always a homer away from kind of clawing back ahead, and we were able to do that. Adam's home run was huge," Dickey said.

Dickey was facing Tampa Bay for the second time in two weeks, and he said he had to adjust his approach several times to stay one step ahead of the Rays' hitters.

"Those guys are smart. They change it up," he said. "Last game, they were a little more patient. [This time] they came out swinging the bats early on. They were attacking knuckleballs that I was throwing for strikes, so you have to be able to make an adjustment, too. Pumping the breaks or changing speeds so they're out in front ... whatever you can do."

After a tough first inning that saw Ben Zobrist lead off the game with a double, later scoring, Dickey got into trouble in the third. Down 1-0, he gave up a single to Kevin Kiermaier to start the frame, followed by a walk to David DeJesus and a double to Evan Longoria. Dickey was able to limit the damage to one run before the Blue Jays erupted for three in the bottom half to go ahead, 3-2.

But that lead wouldn't hold, as Dickey surrendered a leadoff homer to Longoria in the sixth to knot the game at 3, a tie that persisted until the Blue Jays' big seventh.

Dickey turned the ball over to Brett Cecil in the eighth, who escaped a scare after Zobrist singled and Sean Rodriguez walked to start the inning. Cecil fanned Longoria, and James Loney grounded into an inning-ending double play. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said the eighth got "a little hairy," but with Cecil on the mound, there was really no reason to panic.

"Look what he's done the last few weeks," Gibbons said of Cecil, who extended his scoreless innings streak to 15. "He's as good as anyone you're going to find. He's really picked it up, and he's got one of the best curveballs in the business. It's his go-to pitch. You can't say it's unhittable, but it's close to unhittable."

Casey Janssen came on to close out the ninth, and earned his 23rd save of the season with a scoreless inning.

Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Dickey, rotation keeping bullpen fresh

Toronto starters have worked at least six innings in 19 straight games

Dickey, rotation keeping bullpen fresh play video for Dickey, rotation keeping bullpen fresh

TORONTO -- R.A. Dickey's 20th quality start in Saturday's 6-3 win over the Rays helped the Blue Jays' rotation tie a club record for consecutive starts of six-plus innings. Toronto starters have worked at least six innings in 19 straight games, the first time they've been able to do so since June of 1998.

The recent ability of Blue Jays hurlers to go deep into games has had far-reaching effects on the rest of the team, most significantly the bullpen, according to Blue Jays manager John Gibbons.

"The rotation has been on some kind of roll," Gibbons said. "They've been great. We score, we win. ... They've been on that nice stretch, and they really held up their end of the bargain, all five of them. And it's allowed our bullpen to regroup a bit and keep those guys fresh."

Once considered a vulnerability, the rotation has emerged in recent weeks as the anchor of the team's success, which includes a 10-3 record over the past 13 games, during which the rotation is 9-3.

Entering Saturday, Toronto's starters had thrown a collective 83 1/3 innings over the past two weeks, sixth most in the Major Leagues, despite the Blue Jays' two off-days in that span. Their 2.05 ERA during that period is second only to the Orioles (1.97).

R.A. Dickey, who has thrown six-plus innings in 16 of his last 17 starts, said the rotation being dependable as a unit allows the bullpen to stay sharp. And it's also a point of pride.

"As you saw [Saturday], the 'pen was pretty sharp, and that's the case when you're able to protect them down there," he said. "I think a lot of people have doubted our rotation throughout the year, so for us as a group, it feels good to kind of hang your hat on being able to go deep into games consistently."

Dickey and Mark Buehrle are both inching toward the 200-innings mark for the season. Buehrle (182 IP) has done so 13 times in his career, while Dickey (196 2/3) has done it in three straight seasons.

"I always try to work hard and be durable and consistent and trustworthy," said Dickey. "When I came over, when I was signed, I never claimed to be some big ace … just a piece of the puzzle. And part of that is going deep and giving our team a chance to win every game."

Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"event":["prospect" ] }

Pompey will never forget first Major League at-bat

Pompey will never forget first Major League at-bat play video for Pompey will never forget first Major League at-bat

TORONTO -- Toronto's No. 3 prospect, Dalton Pompey, lived out a childhood dream -- on home turf, no less -- in the Blue Jays' series finale against the Cubs earlier this week.

Pompey, a Mississauga, Ontario, native, took his first Major League at-bat on Wednesday at Rogers Centre and grounded to first, but he a plated a run to register his first big league RBI. In doing so, he far eclipsed the 2014 goals he'd set for himself.

"My goal was to get to Double-A, that's what my mindset was," said Pompey, who was called up the Blue Jays when the club expanded its roster to 40 on Sept. 1. "Hopefully, get to the Arizona Fall League, get put on the 40-man. And when I went to [Triple-A] Buffalo that last 10 days of the season, that's when I realized [going to he Majors] could possibly happen, I just have to play well. Now I'm here, and I exceeded expectations. And anything that comes out of this now is just icing on the cake."

Pompey, a switch-hitting outfielder, has rocketed through the Blue Jays' farm system this season. The 21-year-old began the season with Class A Advanced Dunedin before a promotion to Double-A New Hampshire for 31 games. He then got the call from Triple-A Buffalo and played in 12 games for the Bisons before his Majors callup. In 113 Minor League games this season, Pompey hit .317 with nine homers and 51 RBIs. He stole 43 bases, and he was a perfect 6-for-6 in swipes with the Bisons.

With his first Major League at-bat under his belt, Pompey said he's hoping for thousands more, but he'll never forget No. 1.

"I've dreamed about that moment," he said. "It was finally here. In the Minors, you have so many at-bats, but you're always going to remember that first at-bat you have in the Major Leagues. It's what you strive for, it's what your goal is your whole life ... it's the most special out of all them."

Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"event":["prospect" ] }