Twin bill leaves Jays empty-handed

Twin bill leaves Jays empty-handed

ARLINGTON -- One night after the Blue Jays scored 18 runs in a victory, they scored merely four runs in 18 innings and were swept in a doubleheader by the Rangers on Tuesday at the Ballpark in Arlington. Toronto lost both games by the score of 5-2.

"It was a long day, especially when you don't score runs," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. "It looks like everybody's dead when you don't score runs. We had some chances, we just didn't do it."

No chance of saving some runs from Monday night.

"You score 'em while you can," Gaston said. "You can't split 'em up."

The Blue Jays have now lost 15 of their past 20 games.

"It's real tough," said Brian Tallet, the losing pitcher in Game 2. "You're talking about a team that was 10, 15 games over .500 for a couple months. But we fell apart. It's tough. We've lost a lot of close games. That tells you we're pretty close. But there's something missing."

The Blue Jays did get to look at a couple of young pitchers who are candidates for the rotation. Marc Rzepczynski got first crack in Game 1 in what could be his final start of the season.

Rzepczynski wanted to make a lasting impression and make his case to be in the Blue Jays' rotation next year. Rzepczynski seems to have done that, even though Toronto ended up losing.

"It was OK, it wasn't great," Rzepczynski said. "I struggled the first couple of innings and they are a good hitting team and hit a couple of good pitches. Overall, though, I think I did OK."

Rzepczynski allowed three runs, all earned, on eight hits over six innings. But he finished the game with a career-high nine strikeouts.

Rzepczynski certainly heads into the offseason feeling good about his chances of making next year's starting rotation. For Rzepczynski, though, just getting to that point is quite an accomplishment, but also speaks to the injuries that have hit the Blue Jays' rotation.

He was drafted in the fifth round of the 2007 Draft and finished last year pitching in Class A ball. Rzepczynski had no idea he would be pushed through the Toronto farm system and reach the big league level this year.

"[If someone told me that], I would've laughed," Rzepczynski said. "I would've never thought I'd get here. But now that the season is over, I feel like I can pitch at this level."

After giving up a leadoff home run to Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler, Rzepczynski responded by striking out the next three batters. He got into trouble again in the fourth.

With one out, Rzepczynski walked Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz and then gave up a double to Ivan Rodriguez. Both Cruz and Rodriguez eventually scored on Chris Davis' single to right.

"I thought [Rzepczynski] pitched great and has done a good job all year," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. "I'm sure he's going home this offseason feeling good. He has to be proud of what he's done, and he'll go home on a high note. When you lose, you lose, but you've got to look at it like he pitched well. He should be a candidate to start next year in Spring Training."

Tallet, who is another candidate for the 2010 rotation, followed in the second game and wasn't quite good enough either, allowing four runs over five innings. He was making his first start since Aug. 15 and left trailing, 4-0, after five innings. Josh Hamilton hit a pair of home runs off him.

"With that much downtime between starts, it wasn't great, but it wasn't bad," Tallet said. "Leaving with a 4-0 deficit, we still have a chance. If I found a way to keep it 2-0, it could have been a different game. With us not playing our best baseball right now, it's hard to afford a team a four-run lead and expect us to steadily come back."

Tallet is now 5-8 with a 5.20 ERA in 20 starts. He is 1-5 with a 7.24 ERA in his last nine starts after going 4-3 with a 3.90 ERA in his first 11.

"He didn't do too bad," Gaston said. "He hung a breaking ball to Hamilton, then he hit a fastball which was a pretty good pitch. But we only scored two runs."

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