Tallet shuts door as Jays cruise to victory

Tallet shuts door as Jays cruise

ARLINGTON -- On a day the Blue Jays lost another injured starting pitcher for the season, Brian Tallet shut down one of the best offenses in baseball.

Tallet allowed just two hits over seven innings and the Jays' bats produced the long ball in a 9-0 victory over the Rangers on Tuesday night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

The Jays found out Tuesday that right-hander Jesse Litsch is out for the season and will have Tommy John ligament replacement surgery. Toronto is already making do without Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowan, neither of whom appear close to returning.

Nevertheless, Toronto will keep marching behind Tallet, Ricky Romero and Scott Richmond, three starters who weren't expected to be in the rotation when the club broke Spring Training. Injuries and all, the Blue Jays still pulled within 1 1/2 games of the first-place Yankees and Red Sox with Tuseday's victory.

The 31-year-old Tallet -- who pitched in front of 25 family members and friends, as he was born in nearby Oklahoma City and played junior college ball 60 miles away at Hill College -- has solidified one of those spots.

A gangly 6-foot-6 left-hander, Tallet has been among baseball's best against right-handed batters. In fact, he entered Tuesday's game holding righties to a .199 batting average, though improved that stat in a big way. The Rangers stacked their lineup with right-handed swingers, all of whom combined to go 1-for-20 against Tallet.

"I had a good changeup," Tallet said. "That's the equalizer."

It was Tallet's most efficient start of the season. He needed just 103 pitches to get through seven innings, and he notched three strikeouts to accompany two walks.

Tallet, who has struggled to get out of the first few innings in recent starts, needed 10 pitches to get through the first. He did need 29 pitches to get through the second, but he stranded two runners by striking out Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

After that came a streak of ugly at-bats by the Rangers. Tallet shut down the top five batters in the Rangers' lineup, who combined to go 0-for-15 against him.

"There were a lot of popups," Tallet said. "A lot of bad popups."

The tall lefty needed just 22 pitches to get through his final two innings.

"He's done a great job," Jays center fielder Vernon Wells said. "He's keeping guys off balance. He's throwing strikes. It's been a blast playing behind him."

The Jays scored four times in the top of the second. Wells, who appears to be snapping out of a slump, started the inning with a triple over the head of a stumbling Marlon Byrd and then scored on Adam Lind's groundout to first.

Kevin Millar added an RBI single, and after Rangers rookie shortstop Elvis Andrus booted a potential double-play ball, Marco Scutaro drove in two runs with a single to left for a 4-0 lead.

"That made things a lot easier for me," Tallet said.

Lind gave the Jays a 5-0 lead in the fifth, hitting his third home run of the series and his career-high 12th of the season. Aaron Hill added a two-run home run in the eighth, his 14th of the year, for a 9-0 lead.

"Lind, [Scott] Rolen, Hill," manager Cito Gaston said, "up and down we hit the ball tonight."

Todd Wills is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.