Janssen gets breather after three saves in four days

Janssen gets breather after three saves in four days

TORONTO -- Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen got a much-deserved day off on Saturday, as Toronto faced Oakland at Rogers Centre for an afternoon start.

Janssen delivered his sixth straight save Friday night as the Blue Jays beat the A's, 3-2, in the first of a three-game series. It was his third appearance in four days, meriting a day off for the 32-year-old right hander.

"He's been in a lot and we want to protect him a bit," manager John Gibbons said. "Given his [injury] history lately and the fact that's he's been pitching a lot, but we're thinking long term, too. We've got to guard him a bit."

Gibbons suggested Dustin McGowan would be available to handle any late-game duties should the need arise Saturday afternoon.

After making seven outings since returning from an oblique injury that caused him to miss most of Spring Training and the first five weeks of the season, Janssen has made a seamless return to the bullpen.

"You never know what to expect [after missing so much time]," said Gibbons. "He really didn't have a Spring Training, and he didn't have that long of a rehab either. It was kind of out of necessity that we brought him back so quick."

Friday marked the first time he's ever converted six consecutive save opportunities. He entered the game in the top of the ninth, protecting a one-run Blue Jays lead. After retiring two straight Oakland hitters, Coco Crisp swatted a double to left field and then stole third base, bringing the tying run within 90 feet. But Janssen did not waver, and he closed out the game by inducing a groundout from Jed Lowrie.

It's that calmness and patience that makes Janssen so valuable, Gibbons said.

"Looking at him the past two years, he's as good as anybody," Gibbons said. "He does it in a different way, not overpowering guys. But he's a great competitor and he's got nerves of steel. That's a huge part of the job."

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