A call to arms

“We’ve got to get some (pitchers) back who’ve played on this level if we’re going to be able to continue to play the way we’ve been playing.”

Those words were spoken by manager Cito Gaston following Thursday night’s loss to the Angels. But he will no doubt be repeating them again – even if only to himself in the days, and perhaps weeks, ahead.

After losing 5-3 to the Oakland Athletics last night in front of a paltry 14,103 at the Oakland Coliseum, the Blue Jays are now halfway to realizing their biggest fear: losing all four non-Roy Halladay started games in a row. They’ve avoided that fate so far in 2009 thanks to a potent offence that still leads all Major League clubs in batting average (.290), runs (193), hits (338), doubles (74) and total bases (544) entering action Saturday.

Add to that a rookie-laden pitching staff that has overachieved through its first 32 games, and you’re left with the question: how long can we keep this up? The answer, unfortunately for the Blue Jays, is likely not much longer.

Scott Richmond suffered a blip last night, allowing a five-run inning to the A’s in the second after Toronto had taken an early 3-0 lead in the top half. Those would be the only runs the 29-year-old rookie would allow, but it would be enough to take care of the Blue Jays, who dropped to 20-12 with the loss, now mere percentage points behind the Red Sox for the division lead.

Casey Janssen and left-hander Ricky Romero are due to come off the disabled list soon – and the Jays need them back – along with righty Jesse Litsch – badly. Brian Tallet, Robert Ray and Brett Cecil have done an admirable job holding down the fort, but it can’t continue for much longer.

The offence has already shown a glimpse of slowing down in the last couple of days, and the Blue Jays are scheduled to meet up with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox very soon.

Until then, the Jays will hope to patch together a couple of wins before it’s Halladay’s turn to start once again.

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