Jays lose game, not confidence Late rally falls short as Rangers win, 7-5

September 21, 1992|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

TORONTO -- Nobody here was declaring the American League East Division pennant race over, but the mood among the Toronto Blue Jays before their game yesterday with the Texas Rangers was certainly one of supreme confidence.

They laughed around the batting cage.

They joked around the clubhouse.

"We certainly can't be complacent, but we can be confident," said right fielder Joe Carter. "We've got to go right for the jugular."

But after shutting out the Rangers in the first two games of this series, the first-place Blue Jays missed a chance at a sweep, not to mention the jugular, in a too-little, too-late 7-5 defeat.

The loss cut Toronto's lead to four games over the second-place Milwaukee Brewers, who defeated the Orioles yesterday, 9-3.

It means that the Blue Jays' lead over Milwaukee could be down to 3 1/2 games when they arrive at Camden Yards tomorrow night for a three-game series with the Orioles. The Orioles and Brewers complete their four-game series tonight in Milwaukee while the Blue Jays are off.

"I'm not saying it's going to happen, but if we go in there and lose three games, we'll still be up," said second baseman Roberto Alomar. "Even though we lost, I think we still have the momentum."

After losing pitcher Juan Guzman (15-4) spotted the Rangers a 7-0 lead through 4 1/2 innings, the Blue Jays came charging back. They picked up their first run in the fifth, scored one

in the sixth and pushed across two more in the ninth with nobody out.

"Things looked pretty good," said Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston.

With runners on first and second, Dave Winfield represented the potential tying run. He was walked by relief pitcher Kenny Rogers, who had come on for starter Jose Guzman (15-11) with two out in the seventh.

With the bases loaded, and the remnants of a sellout crowd trying to create some noise, Edwin Nunez replaced Rogers and struck out John Olerud, the potential winning run. Rookie Matt Whiteside then came on to face Candy Maldonado.

"A couple of hits and we would have been right back in it," said Gaston.

It appeared that Maldonado had a hit when he lined a pitch deep in the hole at short. But Cris Colon, whose poor judgment earlier in the inning prolonged Toronto's rally -- he tried to throw out Alomar at home instead of going for an easy out at first -- made a backhand play and got the force at second. Whiteside then got Kelly Gruber to end the game by flying out.

"It's no different if we lost 7-2 or 7-5," said Gaston, whose team left after the game for Baltimore.

"It doesn't count if you come back. It only counts if you win. You just try to forget about it and think about your next game."

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