Dip in velocity doesn't concern Morrow
Righty attributes reduced zip to Jays' long inning at plate
NEW YORK -- Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston had some concern over a sudden decrease in right-hander Brandon Morrow's velocity during his outing against the Yankees in Monday night's 8-6 win. The pitcher said it was nothing to worry about.
Morrow believed the issue stemmed from the long fifth inning that the Blue Jays' offense enjoyed. While Toronto was piling on seven runs on seven hits -- including six doubles -- in the fifth, Morrow was watching from the bench.
"It was after the long inning we had," Morrow said. "I just hadn't gotten loose again. ... It's just a matter of, you're sitting for that long. It takes a little longer to get it going again."
In the bottom of the fifth, Morrow allowed a single to Derek Jeter, a deep flyout to Nick Swisher and then a two-run home run to Mark Teixeira. Gaston observed that a handful of Morrow's fastballs dropped in to the 84- to 89-mph range.
"I thought he was maybe tired out there," Gaston said. "I went out and talked to him. His velocity was down and I was worried about him, but he seemed to be OK. And then I checked it out with the trainers, and he's OK. That's good news."
"It just takes a little while to get back into it," Morrow said. "By the end of the inning, I think I was all right. We had a quick inning, and then I was throwing harder [in the sixth] than I was the inning before."
In move to 'pen, Purcey has a mentor
NEW YORK -- Blue Jays left-hander Scott Downs has been in David Purcey's position. This season, Toronto converted Purcey into a reliever after the lefty spent his entire career as a starter. Downs experienced the same transition five years ago.
Downs has turned himself into one of the elite left-handed relievers in the game and now serves primarily as the Blue Jays' go-to arm in the eighth inning. With Downs eligible for free agency this coming winter, Toronto might turn to Purcey for that job next year.
So far, Downs has been impressed with Purcey's progress.
"He's done a great job," Downs said. "He's still got some learning to do. Him and I have had quite a few talks. They're getting him ready for this role. They're getting him ready to come into key situations. The last couple times he's come in, he's done a great job."
Dating back to July 8, Purcey has not allowed a run over a span of 10 innings, during which he has compiled 11 strikeouts and three walks with a .143 opponents' batting average. Overall, Purcey has fashioned a 1.59 ERA over 21 games, and manager Cito Gaston has started trusting the big lefty with important situations.
On Monday night, Gaston turned to Purcey with two outs and two runners on base for the Yankees in the eighth inning. The left-hander struck out Austin Kearns to end the inning, preserving Toronto's 8-5 lead. Purcey has enjoyed finding himself in pressure situations more often lately.
"You want to pitch in games that are close," Purcey said. "It makes you lock in a lot more. You have the adrenaline and just the competitive nature of it -- it's enjoyable to be out pitching in that. I'm definitely happy about that.
"I wasn't expecting to be thrown right into it. I was expecting to get the innings that really didn't matter, just to get experience and get the feel for it."
Purcey added that Downs emphasized the importance of pitching aggressively even when the innings he worked were not high-stress appearances. That would be the only way for Purcey to earn the more crucial spots as the season wore on.
"He does a good job of helping me out, him and [closer Kevin] Gregg," Purcey said. "The biggest thing Downs has told me is every time you hear that phone ring, think it's you that's going to go in the game. The last thing you want to do is get caught off guard about going in the game."
Purcey has learned quickly, and Downs has seen a more confident pitcher.
"You can see it in his face," Downs said. "He wants the ball. He doesn't have any doubt in his stuff. I think he's having fun with it and not really putting any pressure on himself."
Start at first uncharted territory for Lind
NEW YORK -- Adam Lind admitted to fighting some nerves prior to Tuesday's game at Yankee Stadium. He was in the Blue Jays' lineup as a starting first baseman for the first time in his professional career.
Lind grabbed a bat and headed to the cage.
"I took some swings and got the energy out of me," Lind said.
Lind -- Toronto's designated hitter and a part-time left fielder -- has not played first base on a regular basis since suiting up for the University of Southern Alabama in 2004. The Blue Jays plan on handing him a few starts down the stretch this season to see if he can handle the position at the big league level.
"We'll get Lind over there and see what he can do," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. "He's been working out over there for a long time. He's played a couple of innings over there. We'll see what happens."
Entering Tuesday's game against the Yankees, Lind had played first base for a total of eight innings this season. If Lind performs well at first, he could be in the mix for a job at that spot in 2011. Toronto traded top first base prospect Brett Wallace to the Astros on Thursday, and Jays first baseman Lyle Overbay is a free agent this winter.
Toronto could pursue a new first baseman over the offseason, or the club could turn to Lind. For what it's worth, Lind is willing to give it a shot.
"Anything," Lind said. "Anything to help this team to open up more roles for better players or as many players as we can have, I'm willing to do."
Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston gave Fred Lewis a start as the designated hitter for the second game in a row on Tuesday night against the Yankees. Gaston said the move was due to the fact that he wants to primarily play Travis Snider in left field -- Lewis' usual spot -- when the young outfielder is in the lineup. ... Since the All-Star break, Jays right fielder Jose Bautista has paced the Majors in homers (eight), RBIs (26), slugging percentage (.826), extra-base hits (16) and total bases (57). ... Left-hander Scott Downs entered Tuesday with a streak of 19 shutout innings in a row. That is the longest scoreless streak for any Blue Jays pitcher this season. ... Toronto is the only team in the Majors to have more than 200 total bases on the road this season with 205. ... Jays top catching prospect J.P. Arencibia launched his 31st homer of the season for Triple-A Las Vegas in a 13-5 win over Sacramento on Monday. Arencibia has belted 23 of his 31 homers since June 1. ... Class A Lansing third baseman Kevin Ahrens -- a first-round pick by the Blue Jays in 2007 -- has launched four home runs in his past three games. ... Double-A New Hampshire pitcher B.J. LaMura was named the Eastern League's Pitcher of the Week after posting a 0.75 ERA over 12 innings last week. ... Entering Tuesday, Double-A New Hampshire outfielder Darin Mastorianni led the Blue Jays' farm system in hits (123), runs scored (82) and stolen bases (36).
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.