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Notes: A-Rod incident forgotten

Notes: A-Rod incident forgotten

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NEW YORK -- Anyone expecting Blue Jays pitcher Josh Towers to fire a pitch at Alex Rodriguez on Monday night was probably thoroughly disappointed. In anti-climactic fashion, Towers avoided any controversy in Toronto's first meeting with New York since A-Rod's much-debated shout.

The first-inning pitch that Towers threw for a ball on the outside corner with Rodriguez in the batter's box didn't come as much of a surprise, though. Before the game, Blue Jays players and manager John Gibbons all did their part in downplaying any remaining anger over the May 30 incident in Toronto.

"That was almost two months ago," said Gibbons, unwilling to offer much more on the subject. "We forgot all about that it was so long ago. That's all I have to say about it."

The last time the Blue Jays squared off against the Yankees, Rodriguez made national headlines by verbally distracting third baseman Howie Clark on a ninth-inning popup at Rogers Centre. The Yankees slugger appeared to yell, "Mine!" as he ran behind Clark, who then moved out of the way because he believed shortstop John McDonald had called for the ball.

The baseball bounced off the turf, Rodriguez reached third safely, and the Yankees scored four runs in the inning to power their way to a 10-5 win. On Monday, neither McDonald or Clark were in the starting lineup -- purely a coincidence, according to Gibbons -- but that didn't stop the New York press from swarming McDonald prior to the game.

"No one's here to pick fights," said McDonald, shrugging off the idea that Toronto might retaliate. "I think it might've been made into a bigger deal than it was on the field. ... Howie and I have talked about it already. We talked about it right after the game. If we had just caught the ball, it wouldn't have mattered."

When the topic was broached with New York manager Joe Torre, he said he believes the incident was blown out of proportion due to the fact that Rodriguez was involved. Even if Rodriguez hadn't been the one who shouted, it's Torre's opinion that the Yankees third baseman would still have been the focus in the fallout.

"I'll give you a better example," Torre said. "If A-Rod was the one who let the ball drop, A-Rod would still have been the one who was criticized. You know what I mean? You hope, when [the Jays] thought about it, that it's nothing that's going to go anywhere."

Rodriguez created noise of a different kind in his second at-bat, driving a pitch out to left field for career home run No. 496 in the third inning.

Short switch: For the past two games, Gibbons has opted to start Royce Clayton at shortstop instead of McDonald. On Monday, Toronto's manager said Clayton's presence in the lineup simply dealt with his solid showing the day before in Boston.

"Royce swung the bat good yesterday," said Gibbons, referring to Clayton's 2-for-4 game against the Red Sox. "They're both going to play."

Over his last 15 games, McDonald has hit just .208 (10-for-48), lowing his season average to .271 from .297. Clayton's two-hit performance on Sunday marked his second consecutive game with two hits, representing only the second time this year the 37-year-old infielder has had two straight multi-hit games. Clayton has gone 5-for-10 at the plate over his past three starts.

Leading off: Also for the second straight day, Gibbons placed left fielder Reed Johnson in the leadoff spot and kept center fielder Vernon Wells in the No. 3 hole. After experimenting with Wells in the first slot, Gibbons appears to be favoring placing the hitters in their former roles.

"He's swinging really well at the top, but there weren't a lot of [RBI] chances," Gibbons said about Wells. "[The No. 3 hole] been his spot since he's been here, and he's been so good there. Reed, that's his spot [at leadoff]."

The Hill has eyes: After slipping into a 10-game lull in which he hit just .143 (5-for-35), Toronto second baseman Aaron Hill has lifted himself out of the slump by batting .450 (9-for-20) over his past five contests. Entering Monday, Hill led all American League second baseman with 26 doubles and 52 RBIs. He ranked second in that group with 10 home runs and a .447 slugging percentage.

Oneupmanship: Entering Monday, Toronto owned a 17-15 record in one-run contests this season. The 32 games represented the most in the AL, and the 17 victories were tied with Cleveland and Detroit for first in the league. Last year, the Jays went 20-10 in one-run games.

Did you know? On Sunday, the Blue Jays' 2-1 win over the Red Sox marked the ninth time this season that Toronto had picked up a victory when scoring two runs or fewer. Last season, the Jays won only once when scoring two runs or fewer.

Quotable: "I've learned not to read the papers. It was reccomended to me." -- Gibbons

Coming up: Toronto right-hander Roy Halladay (10-4, 4.66 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for the Blue Jays at 7:05 p.m. ET on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium. New York will counter with left-hander Andy Pettitte (5-6, 4.27 ERA).

Jordan Bastian 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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