Litsch pitches Blue Jays past Devil RaysAug 1, 2007 - 2:47 AM ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (Ticker) -- Toronto's Jesse Litsch certainly had a happy homecoming.
A Florida native who was a Tampa Bay Devil Rays batboy from 2000-02, pitched 6 2/3 shutout innings as the Blue Jays blanked the Devil Rays, 2-0, on Tuesday.
It was Litsch's first appearance against his hometown team in his hometown ballpark.
"I wasn't nervous," said Litsch, who played high school ball at nearby Dixie Hollins High School in this city. "I'm home, but when I am on the field it's a different story."
Making only his ninth major league start, Litsch (4-4) scattered seven hits, walked one and struck out two.
"He rose to the occasion," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "He gave us a big lift. He's a very cool kid. He's done a tremendous job. When I took him out with the shutout, some guy in the stands was drilling me about it. I asked him if it was his dad."
Scott Downs pitched 1 1/3 innings and closer Jeremy Accardo worked around a two-on, two-out jam in the ninth to record his 18th save.
"Our pitching and our bullpen has been on a roll," Gibbons said.
Litsch began the season as an unheralded prospect at Class AA New Hampshire when Toronto ace Roy Halladay underwent an appendectomy in May and the Blue Jays needed an emergency starter.
In his major league debut May 15, Litsch pitched 8 2/3 innings in a victory against Baltimore.
Litsch remained with Toronto for two weeks, but returned to the minors until A.J. Burnett went on the disabled list in early July. Since returning, he has a 1.71 ERA (six earned runs in 31 2/3 innings).
"I'm here doing the job," Litsch said. "When A.J. comes back, who knows what will happen."
The Blue Jays only managed an unearned run against Edwin Jackson (2-11) in the second inning, but added an insurance run in the eighth on Vernon Wells' RBI double off Grant Balfour.
Wells also scored Toronto's first run.
Despite owning the major league's highest ERA among starters, Jackson has pitched well of late, allowing no earned runs in two of this last three starts.
On July 20, he blanked the New York Yankees over six innings, and against Toronto, he allowed five hits in six innings with five strikeouts and a walk.
"I felt I struggled the whole time until the last two innings," Jackson said. "But I kept the team in it. I think I just struggled to find the comfort zone."
But the unearned run was too much for the Devil Rays to overcome in losing for the 19th time in their past 26 games.
In the second, Toronto took advantage of an error by shortstop Ben Zobrist to score the game's first run.
Wells hit a line drive that bounced off Zobrist's glove for an error and bounded into center field. Zobrist didn't pursue the ball, allowing Wells to reach second.
Wells moved to third on a wild pitch by Jackson and scored on Matt Stairs' RBI single.
"I'm going to have all our present batboys come out and throw bullpen to see what we have," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "Litsch made good pitches all night."
Litsch had about 50 family and friends in the crowd.
"I spotted a couple of people I knew," he said. "I'm here and I'm doing the job now."
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
- - - - - - - - - - - -
TORONTO 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 8 0
TAMPA BAY 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 8 1 (FINAL)
BATTERIES: TOR - JESSE LITSCH, SCOTT DOWNS (7TH), JEREMY ACCARDO (9TH) AND
TAM - EDWIN JACKSON, JUAN SALAS (7TH), GRANT BALFOUR
(8TH), CASEY FOSSUM (9TH) AND JOSH
Jul 31 9:54 PM
AT TAMPA BAY - SCORING UPDATE
DOUBLE BY VERNON WELLS SCORED LYLE OVERBAY.
SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, V WELLS ON SECOND, 2 OUT
CURRENT SCORE: TORONTO 2
TAMPA BAY 0 TOP, 8TH
DUE UP FOR TORONTO: M STAIRS (.279, 1-FOR-3, RBI)
Blue Jays vs. RaysJul 31 9:24 PM
AT TAMPA BAY - SCORING UPDATE
SINGLE BY MATT STAIRS SCORED VERNON WELLS.
SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, M STAIRS ON FIRST, 0 OUT
CURRENT SCORE: TORONTO 1
TAMPA BAY 0 TOP, 2ND
DUE UP FOR TORONTO: G ZAUN (.236, 5 HR, 26 RBI)
Blue Jays vs. RaysJul 31 7:32 PM
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