Brett Cecil is continuing to make it extremely difficult for the Toronto Blue Jays to revamp their starting pitching rotation, which is exactly what both the club and the player like.
The left-hander produced another quality outing against the Detroit Tigers on Sunday afternoon but once again came up empty handed as the Blue Jays mustered just seven hits – all singles – during a 4-1 victory for the Detroit Tigers at Rogers Centre.
The triumph by the Tigers (54-48) avoided a three-game sweep in the weekend series against the Jays (51-50), who now embark on 10-game, 11-day road trip that begins on Monday in Seattle.
And it appears that the Blue Jays will be without Adam Lind, who sat out his third game with a sore back.
Although the Blue Jays have not made any official announcement, Lind himself said in the clubhouse after the game that he expected he would be going on the 15-day disabled list.
When the Blue Jays acquired J.A. Happ in a 10-player swap back on July 20, Cecil was viewed as the most vulnerable of the Blue Jays starters to be moved out of the starting rotation to make room for the new addition.
At the time, Cecil was 2-2 with a 6.34 earned-run average and Farrell said that he would not have any qualms about shifting the 26-year-old to the bullpen if the need arises.
It hasn't as Cecil has bounced back with two quality outings – July 24 against Oakland where he held the A's to two runs in six innings, and again on Sunday against Detroit.
The only problem is that Cecil has little to show for his strong work.
He was tagged with the loss against the A's and again on Sunday despite a dogged performance where he lasted a season-high 6 2/3 innings, allowing three of the Detroit runs off four hits while striking out seven.
As has been his problem in the past, Cecil was undone by an early home run – this one a three-run shot by Jhonny Peralta in the second inning that staked Detroit to a 3-1 lead.
After that, Cecil allowed just two hits over the next 4 2/3 innings before he left with two out in the seventh.
Peralta would add his second home run of the contest, off reliever Joel Carreno in the ninth inning, to secure the win for Detroit starter Doug Fister, who went a solid eight innings to improve to 5-7.
Cecil also allowed an early home run in his previous start against Oakland – a two-run shot in the second inning to Derek Norris that gave the A's a 2-0 lead en route to a 7-2 win.
"I thought Brett did his job keeping us in the game after the three-run home run in the second," Toronto manager John Farrell said. "He settled down. And I think overall in the series, we pitched very well."
Cecil, who is now 2-4 on the season, has ditched his slider in recent outings and the result has been better command with his fastball, that he successfully kept low in the strike zone against the Tigers.
It has shown in his strikeout rate over his last four outings where his strikeout rate over nine innings has jumped to 9.4 from 6.4 over his first four starts.
By ditching the slider, Farrell said that Cecil has been more successful in concentrating on three primary pitches – his fastball, curve and changeup.
"So it has minimized the number of mistakes he's made and it's given him an opportunity to put up zeros and work deeper in the game, really, with a pretty clean line score," Farrell said.