TORONTO - Josh Johnson didn't last long enough to get the victory as the Blue Jays' season-high winning streak extended to six with Monday's 2-0 win over the Colorado Rockies. But he was dominant over seven and a third, the most innings he's logged in a single game this season and, as is the mantra for starting pitchers these days, Johnson gave his team a chance to win.
“Great outing,” said manager John Gibbons. “You look at since he's been back, two out of the three have been dominating performances. That game in San Francisco, of course he came up with the blister, but this is the first one back since then. He had everything going on. A good live fastball that had a lot of jump on it and a good breaking ball.”
Johnson struck out a personal season-high 10 hitters, becoming just the second Jays' pitcher this year to fan double digits (R.A. Dickey punched out 10 Giants on May 14.) Mixing his mid-90s fastball with devastating curveballs and sliders, he had a bulldog mentality in holding Colorado to five hits.
“Just aggressive, a lot more aggressive than the last outing,” said Johnson. “Just trying to pound the zone, throw my slider, throw my curveball, kind of both sides of the plate, mostly in to lefties but it worked out.”
“He needed that. He's looking to bounce back and contribute and I think he felt really good tonight,” said Gibbons.
Brett Cecil finds his niche
Brett Cecil came on in relief of Johnson with one out in the eighth inning. The Rockies had runners at second and third in what still was a scoreless game.
He induced a lineout from Carlos Gonzalez, one of the National League's premier left-handed hitters, and after an intentional walk to Michael Cuddyer, got a ground ball from Todd Helton to end the threat.
Consider Cecil's role in the Blue Jays' bullpen today: he's become Gibbons' left-handed go-to guy.
A little less than three months ago he was approached by a group of reporters at his locker in Dunedin. Cecil had just emerged from a meeting in which he'd been informed he'd made the team as a long man in the bullpen. There had been doubt and had he not had such a good spring, he may have been cut.
By the way, Cecil's intentional walk of Cuddyer snapped a streak of 25 consecutive hitters retired dating back to May 31.
Reyes and Morrow return to game action
After playing in simulated games on Friday and Saturday, Jose Reyes returned to pro ball action on Monday for the first time since severely spraining his left ankle on April 12 in Kansas City.
Reyes went 2-3 with two singles, two runs scored and a strikeout playing five innings for Single-A Dunedin.
Meantime, Brandon Morrow made his first of what will be either two or three rehab starts.
Morrow, on a 50-pitch count ceiling, allowed three runs on five hits over two innings.
Manager John Gibbons says he expects Reyes and Morrow to play for either Double-A New Hampshire or Triple-A Buffalo.
There's no firm timeline for either player's return. With a run of 10-straight games against American League East rivals starting on Friday, it's reasonable to expect Reyes to rejoin the club if not for the beginning of the stretch, shortly into it.
Dome no home for Rockies
With the loss Monday night, Colorado's franchise record at Rogers Centre dropped to 0-7.