Jays' Reyes can't win for losing

Lefty nears mark for consecutive winless starts

May 29, 2011|By Phil Rogers

For John Danks, the disappointment of what he calls "a broken record" is building exponentially.

"It's getting harder and harder," Danks says. "That's the blunt truth."

Imagine then the suffering of the Blue Jays' Jo-Jo Reyes.

Danks, the best of the White Sox starters the last three seasons, has gone 10 consecutive starts without a victory. But Reyes hasn't won since June 13, 2008. He's 0-4 this season and 0-13 in his last 28 starts.

When Reyes starts Monday against the Indians, he will risk setting the all-time mark for the most consecutive starts without a victory. He has tied the mark that was shared by the Boston Braves' Cliff Curtis and the Oakland A's Matt Keough.

Curtis set the record in 1910-11 — and went 0-23 in the process (a consecutive loss record that former Cub and Met Anthony Young broke in 1993) — and Keough tied it in 1978-79. Now it's Reyes' turn in the barrel.

"It kills me because he has pitched so well for us," catcher J.P. Arencibia said. "But we haven't really scored for him. … He continues to give us quality starts, and that's all you can ask for him to do."

Reyes, who began his career with the Braves in 2007, has a 5-19 record and 6.04 career ERA. His stay with the Braves was interrupted by injuries, including a significant knee surgery, but his stuff remained good enough that the Blue Jays asked for him in the Yunel Escobar deal last July.

The offseason trade of Shaun Marcum opened a spot in the Blue Jays' talented rotation, and Reyes claimed it with a solid spring training. His 4.70 ERA this season is lower than 14 major leaguers who have made at least 10 starts, as he has.

Reyes is trying not to dwell on his fate.

"I'm not worried about that streak," he said after his latest start, a 7-3 loss to the Yankees in which he lasted only three innings. "When I step on the rubber, all I'm worried about is executing a pitch. It is not bothering me."

Reyes has had two starts this season in which he has worked at least six innings while giving up one run, and on May 20 he worked seven scoreless innings against the Astros but didn't get the support needed to get him a victory.

Blue Jays manager John Farrell, a former pitching coach with the Red Sox and Indians, tells pitchers to "focus on the process and not on the result'' and believes Reyes is doing a good job seeing the bigger picture.

"If you attach yourself to the end result, you're going to ride the elevator up and down from a mental standpoint,'' Farrell told the Toronto Sun. "To his credit, he has handled it like a pro. It hasn't altered his work ethic, his approach or his attitude. He has put us in position to win."

Voice of experience: Ray Fosse doesn't believe Scott Cousins had to smash into Buster Posey. But he isn't looking for MLB to institute new protect-the-catcher rules after the play that ended Posey's season and reduced the chances of the Giants returning to the World Series.

"The game has been around more than 100 years, and now they're going to start protecting catchers?" Fosse asked. "I can't see anything that can be changed. In high school, you can't run over a catcher. But that's high school. This is professional baseball.

"The idea is to score runs. If the catcher has the ball and he's standing there, the runner has to stop? Is that the protection? I don't see how you could regulate something like that."

You would think Fosse might be leading the movement, as he was never the same after Pete Rose flattened him in the 1970 All-Star Game. But Fosse believes baserunners have the right to decide how they're going to get to the plate. In this case, he believes Cousins could have taken a more subtle approach.

"Unnecessary," Fosse told the San Francisco Chronicle about Cousins' slamming into Posey. "He could have gotten to the plate without doing that. I just think if you give the runner part of the plate, and if the runner is going to do it correctly, he slides toward that part of the plate.''

Feeling the pain: There was very little remorse from Rose after crushing Fosse. But Cousins seemed almost sick himself Thursday, even though his play got the winning run home in the Marlins' 12-inning victory.

Cousins said he didn't watch much television afterward because he wanted to avoid public discussion about the play.

"It's all over the TVs,'' he said. "There was a 'Sports Science' on it as soon as I walked into the clubhouse. It's in the newspapers. They're talking about it on the radio. No matter where I look, there it is. I'm trying to look the other way. Seeing it makes my stomach turn."

Cousins didn't see a "clean lane to slide'' and reach the plate, leaving him no option other than to take on Posey. He immediately crawled over to check on Posey but was chased away by angry Giants manager Bruce Bochy. He called Giants trainers twice in the next 24 hours to check on Posey and leave messages.

"He's an amazing player, a great guy and a leader of that team," Cousins said. "I know they're going to need his presence around. It's just so unfortunate that it had to go this way.

"I love the way he plays the game. He has got the best right-handed swing in the game. He's a tremendous hitter and a tremendous leader in the ways that he handles their staff."

The last word: "Bob was never good at communication, and I don't want to speak for anybody else, but it was a sentiment reflected in many conversations during the two years I spent in Oakland, and even recently when talking to guys after I left. For me personally, he was my least favorite person I have ever encountered in sports from age 6 to 27." — Rockies closer Huston Street on A's manager Bob Geren.

progers@tribune.com

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