Jo-NO! Blue Jays' Reyes still after elusive win
Jo-Jo Reyes trudged off the mound, his day done after just three innings.
The first batter he faced hit a rocket to the outfield wall. So did the next one. Reyes walked a couple of batters, gave up a couple of two-run homers, and found himself in the dugout at Yankee Stadium trailing 5-0 on a sun-splashed Wednesday afternoon.
The Toronto Blue Jays would eventually drop the game 7-3 and - JO-NO, not again! - another L in the box score for one of the major league's most unfortunate pitchers.
Reyes has gone 28 consecutive starts without a victory. One more game without some run support, one more start in which the bullpen blows a save, and the affable 26-year-old pitcher from West Covina, Calif., will have a dubious record all to himself.
''I'm not worried about that streak. When I step on the rubber, all I'm worried about is executing the pitch,'' Reyes said after his 13th straight loss, standing in front of his locker in the visiting clubhouse. ''We have fun with it, but it doesn't get to me.''
It probably should.
At least a little.
The only other pitcher in the modern era to go 28 games without tasting success was Matt Keough, who didn't win a game for the Athletics from Sept. 6, 1978, to Aug. 8, 1979.
Old-timer Cliff Curtis also went 28 starts without a victory in 1911-12, according to STATS LLC.
Reyes (0-4) hasn't been the winning pitcher since beating the Los Angeles Angels on June 13, 2008, when the left-hander was still a member of the Atlanta Braves.
The former second-round draft pick was traded to the Blue Jays last summer, and he nailed down one of their starting jobs in spring training.
But despite adding a cutter that hasn't been cutting and working on a changeup that, well, doesn't change a whole lot, Reyes is still trying to crack the goose egg in the win column through his first 10 starts.
''I just worry about preparing for the next start. I haven't looked at any video on the Indians, so I don't know about them,'' Reyes said, pondering next week's home matchup against Cleveland. ''I'll just prepare the same way I've been preparing all season.''
In Reyes' defense, not all of his outings have been as dire as the one against the Yankees, when just about every pitch he sent to the plate was sent right back at him.
Last Friday night against Houston, Reyes allowed five hits and a walk over seven shutout innings. He struck out seven and left with a 2-0 lead. Then Hunter Pence tied the game with a two-out, two-run double off Jon Rauch in the eighth inning, wiping out the chance for victory.
''Jo-Jo did a hell of a job today and gave us a real good chance to win that ballgame,'' Rauch said afterward deep inside of Rogers Centre. ''We let him down.''
Reyes has gone at least seven innings four times this season, taking the loss in three of them. Another time he allowed one run over six innings, only to watch Tampa Bay squeeze out a 3-2 win. And yet another time he gave up six runs at Texas, none of which were earned.
So much for getting some help.
''He's dealing with it the best way he can, and he's doing a pretty good job of it, 'cause he's concentrating on going out there every fifth day and doing a good job,'' Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista said. ''He has, for the most part.
''It's just that every time he pitches,'' Bautista said, ''we don't get him enough runs.''
Reyes allowed five runs in three innings against New York, his ERA climbing to 4.70 on the year. By comparison, the Baltimore Orioles' Jake Arrieta was tied for second in the majors entering Thursday with six wins - and an ERA of 4.57.
Sure, wins no longer define pitching success. The Mariners' Felix Hernandez won the AL Cy Young last year going 13-12, the fewest wins for a Cy Young starter in a full season - breaking the previous record (15) set by the San Francisco Giants' Tim Lincecum just one year earlier.
Still, there's a sense of satisfaction with earning the W, a positive vibe that Reyes has experienced just five times in 47 career starts.
''We try not to put pressure on him,'' Toronto's Rajai Davis said. ''We're trying to be supportive and do whatever we can to win every game, when he pitches or when anybody pitches.''
In reality, Reyes is a pretty good pitcher.
He has to be for manager John Farrell to keep sending him to the mound.
''He'll have his normal work day two days from now and continue to stick to his routine that has worked for him,'' Farrell said after Wednesday's game, striking down any notion of sending Reyes to the minors or relegating him to the bullpen. ''He's giving us what we need.''
Reyes plans to keep doing that, insisting every time someone brings up the streak that it isn't bothering him. But if he needs some solace before his next start, he can look back at Keough, and the 28 games he went without earning a victory.
His next start, he went the distance for the win.