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TEX@TOR: Arencibia's three-run shot gives Jays a lead

TORONTO -- Brett Cecil does not fear change -- he thrives on it.

Altering both the hand and foot movement in his delivery, and the way he pitches from the stretch, Cecil has reinvented himself into a pitcher capable of shutting down one of the American League's toughest lineups twice in six days.

At least, that was the case Friday night when Cecil earned a victory over the Rangers for the second consecutive game, 3-2, before 19,287 at Rogers Centre.

"I'm a guy who likes change. I don't mind it. I'll always try everything once or twice," said Cecil, who has now allowed just one run in his past 21 innings. "I feel like I'm the kind of a guy who almost has to change a little bit because I have ADD or something."

Cecil made an adjustment to his delivery in the past week, moving his hands over his head as he throws the ball, which is a change that happened naturally, according to Blue Jays manager John Farrell.

The adjustment allows Cecil to increase the tempo in his delivery and throw the ball with more energy, which is a major plus for a pitcher who was sent down to the Minors earlier this year because his velocity had dropped by almost 10 mph.

The Blue Jays are hoping Cecil has found something with the subtle, yet effective adjustment, which may have salvaged his season.

"He's had better energy in the delivery, and he's had better location to his stuff down in the zone," Farrell said. "I think he's gained confidence over these past two outings, particularly against the Rangers. He continues to move in the right direction."

Of course, not all change is a good thing. Cecil went into this start with the same game plan as he did on Sunday, when he threw a four-hit shutout in Texas.

For Cecil and battery-mate J.P. Arencibia, there wasn't much to talk about before the game. Just go out and do what worked last time around.

"It worked before. I wouldn't see why I would change anything," Cecil said. "We had our meeting like we always do when we have a new team come in. But we didn't even go over the lineup after that."

The key to beating the Rangers, like last time, was keeping the ball in the bottom half of the strike zone, which Cecil did all night -- even to Nelson Cruz, who yanked a sinker down and away deep to left field for a home run in the second inning.

Other than that, Cecil would go unscathed, allowing seven hits and striking out six over seven solid innings.

"It's unbelievable how bad of swings guys take on him when he's down," Arencibia said. "He was able to throw his slider down, he was able to throw his changeup down, and when he needed to throw his fastball he was able to locate it."

Arencibia gave Cecil all the run support he needed with one swing in the fifth inning after Aaron Hill and Travis Snider opened the frame with back-to-back singles. The backstop watched as Rangers starter Alexi Ogando's grooved a slider for a strike on the first pitch. And when Ogando went back to the slider with his second pitch, Arencibia did not miss, depositing the ball over the fence in left field.

"I was able to get my hands extended and drive it out of the park. He kind of hung it over the plate," Arencibia said. "It's just good to help the team win. That's the biggest thing for me."

Arencibia has been on a tear over the past week, hitting five home runs in his last six games after going homerless in his first 12 games of the month -- hitting just .133 over that span. The 25-year-old now has 17 homers on the season which is the most by a Toronto rookie since Eric Hinske hit 24 in 2002.

For Arencibia, the key to breaking out of his slump has been simple: don't think.

"I've been trying a little too hard. I was trying to think about too many things at the plate. Baseball's hard enough," Arencibia said. "I felt like I wasn't contributing and that's what hurt me the most. ... I'm just going out there and trying to have good at-bats."

Arencibia was the only Blue Jay who could touch Ogando as the Rangers starter allowed just four hits and four walks over 5 2/3 innings. He was nearly flawless as he breezed through the first four innings, allowing just one hit and throwing upwards of 97 mph on the radar gun.

But he would still be saddled with his fifth loss as the Rangers couldn't crack Cecil for the second time in less than a week.

"It's his offspeed stuff," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of Cecil. "He's got tremendous offspeed stuff. We knew that and we still couldn't stay back."

Texas showed brief signs of a rally in the ninth, when Mike Napoli hit a solo shot off Toronto closer Jon Rauch. But Rauch settled in and got a tremendous play from Adam Lind at first base -- robbing David Murphy of a hit -- to record his ninth save of the year and second in the past three nights.

The Blue Jays also stymied the Rangers with their defense in the sixth after Texas opened the inning with back-to-back singles. But Cecil snuffed out a sacrifice bunt attempt from Endy Chavez, getting the lead runner at third, before retiring Napoli and Mitch Moreland to quiet the threat.

"We practice that probably more than anything in Spring Training, so it's like second nature," Cecil said of nabbing the lead runner. "It's a huge play to keep guys off second and third with one out."

Cecil has now recorded four quality starts in his last five outings and is 3-0 in four career starts against the Rangers.

What seemed to be a forgetful season for Cecil just a month ago -- as he toiled in the Minors, searching for his lost velocity -- has suddenly undergone a dramatic turnaround. The 25-year-old can only hope to keep the ball rolling.

"You're never too far out of the game no matter how bad you're doing," Cecil said. "I just kept working hard down at Triple-A and got back up here and made a few more tweaks. Its paid off so far and hopefully it continues." Comments