Cito Gaston tried to sell it as a move that would bring in some fresh arms after Monday night's exhibition of mediocre pitching, but the fact is that the Toronto Blue Jays have only needed an excuse to send out Jeremy Accardo.
Accardo was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas and Merkin Valdez was designated for assignment just minutes after the Boston Red Sox finally put away a 13-12 win over the Blue Jays in the first game of a three-game series at the Rogers Centre.
Accardo wasn't the only arsonist on the night, but the 32 pitches and two hits he threw in an inning of relief after the Blue Jays scored six runs in the bottom of the third to take a 6-5 lead spoke of such a low compete level that even in this horrid affair it stood out.
To take their places, the Blue Jays recalled right-hander Josh Roenicke and purchased the contract of left-hander Rommie Lewis.
It was the first time that the Blue Jays have lost a game in which they scored 12 runs since June 24, 2004 - a 19-13 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Blue Jays starter Dana Eveland gave up eight hits and seven earned runs in three innings. He faced 20 batters, on a night in which the Red Sox out-hit the Blue Jays 18-16. In the end, the winning run turned out to be scored by Marco Scutaro, who scored on a double by Dustin Pedroia when Blue Jays catcher John Buck failed to come up with the throw to the plate for what have been the third out.
Scutaro, the former Blue Jay, was 3-for-5 with four runs scored as the top third of the Red Sox lineup went a combined 9-for-15 with nine runs and four runs batted in.
"Not a good day to pitch," Eveland said.
The teams ran 13 pitchers out in the four-hour, three-minute snoozer and combined to throw 399 pitches. Jason Varitek led the Red Sox, going 3-for-5 with four runs batted in. Adam Lind, Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay all had three hits for the Blue Jays in front of a mostly uninterested crowd of 13,847.
Overbay hit his second home run of the year while Jose Bautista clubbed his fourth. Bautista's came off Red Sox starter Josh Beckett, who was no better than Eveland, allowing nine hits and eight runs in three innings.
Shawn Camp (1-1) took the loss while Scott Schoeneweis (1-1) was credited with the win. Jonathan Papelbon sent the side down in order in the ninth for his sixth save.
Gaston, the Blue Jays manager, said later that the moves with Valdez and Accardo were made largely as a result of the game but nobody's buying it. Accardo's been the bullpen's version of 'Dead Man Walking' all spring and it was a surprise that he made the team considering the other options available. Valdez, on the other hand, has a great arm; he just doesn' t know what to do with it.
Accardo, who has allowed all six inherited runners to score this season, did not talk to the media after he was sent out. Gaston tried to put a positive spin on it of sorts by saying that Accardo was "working on a cut fastball," and that he'd be better served honing the pitch in the minors.
Lewis is a big, 27-year-old left-hander who was a non-roster invitee to spring training who was signed as a minor-league free agent in January, 2009, after bouncing around the Baltimore Orioles organization for seven years after being chosen by the Orioles in the fourth round in 2001. Roenicke was acquired from the Cincinnati Reds in the Scott Rolen trade last season.
"Josh did not have a really good spring but he threw the ball well - he had good velocity," said Gaston. "Lewis had a good spring. He opened some eyes. But he had options left.
"You never have the same pitchers throughout the year that you start the season with, anyhow."
Lewis was called up instead of David Purcey, Gaston said, because his arm is stretched out. Purcey, a future closing candidate, is not somebody the Blue Jays want to ask for multiple innings right now.
Both pitchers are expected to be here in time for Tuesday night's game.