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Jays rout Angels in Koskie's return

Jays rout Angels in Koskie's return

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TORONTO -- One bat came back to an eight-bat salute. The Blue Jays welcomed Corey Koskie back from a two-month stint on the disabled list on Tuesday night and celebrated with an 8-0 win over the Angels.

"It was nice to see him standing over there. The more he plays, the better he's going to get," said Toronto manager John Gibbons. "He's a big part of this. When he's gone, you forget about it. He kind of gives us that new look we were looking for in the beginning of the year."

The game was every bit as one-sided as the final score seems. The Jays (50-49) dashed out to a three-run lead in the first inning, and they added four more runs in the fourth. Seven of the home team's starters scored at least one run, and all nine had at least one hit. Toronto's Shea Hillenbrand had the biggest night, collecting three hits and four RBIs.

Still, the biggest news was Koskie's return, which came after a 58-game absence. The third baseman went 1-for-4 and had an uneventful night in the field. He made one assist and one liner ripped past him, but all in all, it was a rewarding night at the office.

"I had some good passes and I took some pretty good pitches. Overall, I felt great -- maybe just a tad late," said Koskie. "Those boys -- they swung it pretty well. But when you get a pitching performance like that and get some runs with it, there's not much more you could ask for."

Gustavo Chacin took all the run support and made it stand up, foiling the Angels for most of the game. The southpaw allowed just two hits in the first five innings -- one was erased on a pick off and the other on a double play. Chacin (10-5) worked through the eighth, then handed the ball to Toronto's bullpen.

"He was right on tonight. That's probably the best I've seen him in a while," said Gibbons. "He was just pounding that strike zone, pitch after pitch. He's capable of that, and it gives him his 10th win. He's having a heck of a rookie year."

"That guy pitched a terrific game," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "Anytime we had a count in our favor or had a chance to do something, he came up with a great pitch. He reminds me a little of a combination of Teddy Higuera and Fernando Valenzuela. There are a lot of intangibles he has on the mound, just from a first glance."

The other starter had the opposite kind of night. Paul Byrd worked just three-plus innings, his shortest start this season. Byrd (9-7) made a major mistake in the first inning, when he gave up a three-run homer to Hillenbrand. The shot traveled over the left-field fence, and it came one out after Vernon Wells drove a ball to the warning track.


"That guy pitched a terrific game. Anytime we had a count in our favor or had a chance to do something, he came up with a great pitch."
-- Angels manager Mike Scioscia, on Gustavo Chacin

"We've been swinging the bat good. We're starting to hit our stride," said Gibbons. "We got that big home run early, but I thought Vernon had one, too. He just hit it in the wrong spot. ... Then, we spread it around pretty good."

Toronto came back for more in the fourth, chasing Byrd with four straight hits. The Jays got two singles sandwiched around two doubles before the Angels (59-41) went to the bullpen. Kevin Gregg came in and settled things down, but not before Hillenbrand put the seventh run on the board with a two-out single.

The final run scored in the eighth inning, courtesy of a solo shot from Wells. It was his 20th of the season, which gives him four straight seasons with at least that many. Only five other Jays have had a streak that long -- Carlos Delgado, Joe Carter, George Bell, Jesse Barfield and Fred McGriff.

"This team's hot right now," said Byrd. "It seems like if we played them to pull, they hit it the other way. And if we played them the other way, they pulled it."

"Paul Byrd made some mistakes in key situations to some good hitters," said Scioscia. "To Hillenbrand, he hung the slider in the first inning and got them on the board. When you're not making good pitches against good hitters, they're going to be magnified. Good hitters aren't going to miss them."

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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