Sunday provides ups and Downs

Scott Downs isn’t flashy. He doesn’t enter the game to heavy metal music. And there certainly aren’t flames bursting on the video boards in the Rogers Centre outfield upon his arrival.

That kind of thing is B.J. Ryan’s schtick.

Instead, Downs simply takes a moment to collect his thoughts on the warning track outside the bullpen, and proceeds to make a brisk jog to the mound. No, it’s not flashy. But it seems to be working okay.

BASEBALL/The left-hander appeared for the third straight day Sunday afternoon and picked up his third save of the season in a 4-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles. The victory clinched a three-game sweep of the O’s and gave the Blue Jays an American League best 18-9 record, two full games ahead of the Boston Red Sox in the AL East division.

Downs hasn’t changed anything since taking over the closer role for the injured B.J. Ryan. And why would he? The 33-year-old has been an exceptional setup man over the past few seasons for the Jays. In 2007, he led the league with 81 appearances, posting a 4-2 record and a 2.17 ERA. And last season, Downs appeared in 66 games, notching career bests in ERA (1.78) and WHIP (1.15).

Oh, and he hasn’t been too bad this year either. During Sunday’s performance, the left-hander lowered his ERA to 0.66 in 13 games thus far. He also has a miniscule 0.51 WHIP and 17 strikeouts to go with zero walks.

Many were calling for Downs to move into the closer role even before Ryan’s trip to the disabled list. The latter had struggled for much of the year – in six games, Ryan posted an ERA of 11.12, he’d blown two saves and had actually walked more batters (5) than he’d struck out (4). 

A trapezius injury allowed manager Cito Gaston to avoid – at least temporarily – having to decide whether to move the $12 million-per-year Ryan out of the closer role. The 33-year-old Louisiana native has been on a ‘no-throw’ schedule over the last week and it is unknown when he’ll return. 

And if/when he does, it’s also unknown just what role he’ll fill. Downs, after all, has been doing a mighty fine job in the ninth.

It was smooth sailing again for the new closer on Sunday. Following a Melvin Mora groundout and a routine Luke Scott pop up, the lefty got the pinch-hitting Ty Wigginton to hit a ground ball right back to the mound. After making the play to first, Downs pumped his fist and exchanged a celebratory high-five with catcher Rod Barajas.

Nothing flashy. Just the usual excitement expected from a first-place ballclub.

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3 Responses to “Sunday provides ups and Downs”

  1. eyebleaf Says:

    I love Scott Downs. I was making noise last season that he deserves to go to the All-Star game. It’s about the time I start making that same noise this season.

    Also, your feed is coming up in my RSS Reader as “(title unknown)”. Just wanted to give you a heads up; check that out.

    Cheers.

  2. TD Says:

    Hmm … I will check that out. Thanks!

    Downs is definitely cruising right now. Carlson is great too. Hell, the whole relief corps is pitching well lately.

  3. Lucas Says:

    Scott “Three up, Three” Downs

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