BLUE JAYS SURGE ON
GREG MYERS' STELLAR DAY
by ALLAN RYAN
Toronto Greg Myers could see the signs but wasn't sure which looked stranger: Getting the wave home on a ball that initially should've been no better than a single or, as he eventually approached the plate, getting the signal that a slide would not be required. "Yeah, that's a couple of good ones right there," said Myers after his contributions to the Blue Jays' 6-1 verdict over the Baltimore Orioles.
The oldest Jay but not, by his assurances, the slowest, Myers logged the 27th inside-the-park homer in franchise history to trigger a game-turning, four-run fourth then, next trip, homered in more conventional fashion to help make a winner out of Kelvim Escobar and, for the fourth straight time, the Jays. It took some of the sting, no doubt, out of being officially eliminated in the AL East (although, not quite yet, the wild card), which happened when the Yanks won the first of two with Tampa Bay.
Myers' career-best (by six) 14th and 15th homers, gave him a career-best (by five) 52 RBIs, a career-best (by 28 percentage points) .317 batting average and an even 100 hits for the first time in his seven-team, 16-season haul that began as a September call-up with the '87 Jays. Kind of late, he agreed, to be posting such a bumper campaign, but it's got him thinking there might be a little gas in the tank yet. "We haven't talked," Myers said, "but I wouldn't mind playing another one (season) right here."
The inside job obviously, another first for Myers was the team's first since a year ago, July 17, when Ken Huckaby, oddly enough, the only other Toronto catcher with one of these, delivered at the SkyDome off, oddly enough, the Orioles. Gary Matthews had been the Oriole outfielder back then, sliding for a near-catch at the right foul-line in right then, thinking the ball had touched down foul, loping after the ball while Huckaby "motored." Yesterday, oddly enough, it was another second generation major-leaguer, Tim Raines, Jr., who, initially charging Myers' looper to short centre, elected to pull up and whoa, big bounce there wound up chasing it to the track. "He got to the dugout and said he was done," said manager Carlos Tosca. "He said he'd put his best bolt on going home to second and thought that was gonna be it."
Myers reckoned he was in top flight somewhere between first and second. "The rest, I was dying," Myers said. "When I got to third, I was just trying to stand up, not fall down. When I got to the dugout, I was kind of in a fog. I kind of laid down on the bench. I heard everybody laughing so I guess that wasn't too smooth." And, when he got to his locker afterwards, there was an IV set up and waiting.
Said Chris Woodward: "When we were high-fiving after his second homer, Greg said, `Well, that was a little easier." Escobar walked a season-high six and let the lead Oriole aboard in five of his six frames, yet escaped partly because the O's went 0for12 with runners in scoring range. "I feel fine," Escobar said. "I don't really like to believe in good luck or bad luck. Sometimes you have quality pitches but don't get the good result, sometimes ... just look at Hentgen (Pat, yesterday's Oriole starter). He pitched like a guy who should've given up one run. I know how he felt."
Special to CANADIAN BASEBALL NEWS 14 September 2003