Ray okay, and Hill redeems

Aaron Hill said it wasn’t about redemption. That’s exactly what he told reporters after the game.

“I wasn’t thinking about that (his error in the 10th inning yesterday that ultimately allowed the Orioles to take a 4-3 lead),” Hill told the Toronto Star. “You can’t, you can’t. It made me look like: ‘Oh, I’ve redeemed myself.’ But if you go up there thinking: ‘I have to redeem myself,’ that’s something you shouldn’t be thinking about when you’re trying to hit a 94 mile-an-hour fastball.”

While that’s certainly true, the second baseman is only human. Here’s what we think: After launching a leadoff homer in the bottom of the 10th, Hill likely felt a great sense of relief – he had, after all, ‘made up’ for his gaffe in the field. And when he lined a single up the middle for the walk-off win in the 11th? Well, that was the ultimate redemption.

Of course he felt a sense of redemption. He’s a world-class athlete. He may not have had it top of mind during the at-bat, but there’s no doubt that was his first thought when he saw Rod Barajas cross home plate with the winning run.

With the win, their fourth walk-off victory of the season, the Blue Jays improved to 17-9, good for top spot in the American League, one game ahead of the Boston Red Sox in the AL East.

Somewhat lost in the late-game heroics was the performance of starting pitcher Robert Ray, who made his big-league debut, tossing 5.2 innings and allowing three runs on four hits and four walks en route to picking up a no-decision.

In other words, he got the job done. Realistically, manager Cito Gaston is just looking for starters to keep his club in the ballgame. One out shy of a quality start? Yep, that’ll do it.

The Jays’ offense has proved this year it can score with the best of them. So, while the pitching staff features fill-ins until Jesse Litsch, Ricky Romero and perhaps Casey Janssen return from injury, all Gaston and Ricciardi want is for pitchers to ‘hold down the fort.’

As for Ricciardi’s decision to call up Ray for a start?

“Well … he’s healthy,” the Jays’ general manager said. “He’s healthy and it’s his turn to throw. We’ve just got to hope that they (fill-ins) give us a chance to win.”

Ray did just that yesterday, and Hill provided the heroics.

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