Accardo puts struggles behind him

Accardo puts struggles behind him

TORONTO -- It's no secret that Jeremy Accardo has gone through a rough patch on the mound lately. That's why after inducing a double-play grounder to end Sunday's game, which preserved a 5-3 win for Toronto, the reliever received a hug from Jays catcher Gregg Zaun.

"It feels good to get those rough ones out of my system," Accardo said on Sunday. "I got the bear off my back."

Accardo started the season as the Jays' interim closer, but then moved into a setup role when closer B.J. Ryan returned from the disabled list on April 13. Accardo had success in the closer's spot to open the season, notching three saves in the first week of April.

However, his success did not last long, as the 26-year-old Accardo began to struggle. In a stretch of five games between April 8-18, the hard-throwing right-hander suffered three losses and two blown saves, along with an 18.00 ERA. Over four innings, Accardo allowed six hits and eight runs.

Overcoming struggles is not something Accardo had to do much last year, when he became the full-time closer after Ryan was lost for the season because of Tommy John reconstructive surgery on his left elbow in May. In 2007, Accardo saved 30 games with a 2.14 ERA.

On Sunday, with the Jays leading, Accardo substituted for Ryan, who had pitched the day before, in a save situation. With one out, the reliever allowed a single to Detroit outfielder Clete Thomas. It was a situation that had become all too familiar to Accardo over the past few weeks.

"After that, I was like, 'OK, here we go again,'" said Accardo. "But then you have to step off and get that out of your head and get back to work. One hit is not going to make or break you, it's the next batter that matters."

That mind-set worked for Accardo, who got Detroit's Ivan Rodriguez to ground into a double play to end the game, and gave the reliever his first save since April 6.

"Jeremy bounced back and had a big one," Jays manager John Gibbons said on Sunday. "He's been in that little rough spot, but he got through and that'll do really well with him."

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