"We have got to try to be patient with him and hope he learns something
every time he goes out there."
Making just the fifth Major League start of his career and the third since being recalled
from Triple-A on July 24, Purcey (1-3) gave his best performance thus far. The left-hander worked his way in and out of jams on Friday,
but he was really only harmed in the fourth inning, when he surrendered all
three of his runs.
Purcey allowed two walks and six hits over six innings.
The most encouraging aspect of his start, though, was his career-high eight strikeouts.
The 26-year-old's fastball was what impressed Gaston the most.
"He's got a pretty good fastball," Gaston said. "He's throwing that
fastball by people, and it's 90-92 mph, so he must be hiding it pretty good,
too. I think he's getting better."
Purcey surrendered all of his runs in the fourth inning, when he allowed Cleveland (50-64) to string together three doubles and a single.
After retiring the first batter in the fourth, Purcey then
surrendered a double to catcher Kelly Shoppach. One out later, Ben
Francisco and Shin-Soo Choo laced back-to-back two-baggers into the
left- and right-center-field gaps, giving the Indians a 2-0 lead. Franklin
Gutierrez added a third run when he singled on a line drive to center
field, driving in Choo. Gutierrez came within inches of a double himself,
but he was nailed at second base by Jays center fielder Alex Rios.
In the fifth inning, Purcey got into trouble again by walking Cleveland's
No. 8 and 9 hitters to begin the frame. However, the left-hander was able
to bear down this time and escape the jam unharmed, inducing a flyout
from Grady Sizemore and striking out Jamey Carroll to end the threat.
Gaston hoped that the young starter was able to learn from pitching in
and out of threats.
"When you're up here, you don't survive doing that," he said. "But if you
learn from it, you will survive and try not to let that happen to you too
For his part, Purcey has taken note of a few things.
"I'm just learning that it doesn't matter how hard you throw, you just have
to put it in the right spot," he said. "I like relying on my fastball, but the
offspeed pitches help me out a lot. As long as I can locate those over
the plate, I seem to be doing pretty well.
"[I'm] kind of learning that the fastball is a good pitch to have, but you also
have to have some other stuff to be able to mix over as well."
The southpaw also indicated that he is becoming more acclimated to
life in the big leagues, and has been soaking up what he can from the
veteran pitchers on Toronto's staff.
"I'm getting a little more comfortable and realizing how I have to pitch up
here and how the hitters are," he said. "Watching a lot of the older guys
-- watching the way they pitch and what works for them. I'm just trying
to get my feet wet."
Despite Purcey's solid outing, the Jays' bats could not muster
enough runs to support him. The end result was a loss that snapped
the team's four-game winning streak.
Matt Stairs laced an RBI double to right field in the fourth inning to put
Toronto on the board. But for the Jays, not much else came in the way
Following Stairs' single in the fourth, Scott Rolen was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but Indians starter Anthony Reyes (3-1) immediately ended the threat by getting John McDonald to fly out to center field.
Toronto had also squandered a prime scoring opportunity in the second
inning, when Stairs came to the plate with one out and runners on first
and third. The designated hitter grounded the first pitch he saw to the left
side of the infield, starting an inning-ending double play.
The Jays finished the night batting 2-for-10 with runners in scoring
position and left 10 runners on base.
"As far as getting some key hits, we weren't able to do that tonight," said Gaston. "We're going to have nights like that, and today ... we just [need to] suck this one up, move on to tomorrow and see what happens then."