Sun, Jul 26, 2009 - Page 19 News List

‘Doc’ makes what could be last Toronto house call

HIGH NOON: Evan Longoria helped the Rays beat the Blue Jays on Friday, tarnishing what may have been pitcher Roy ‘Doc’ Halladay’s final start with Toronto

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Roy Halladay throws to the Tampa Bay Rays during the third inning of their American League game in Toronto on Friday.

PHOTO: REUTERS

AMERICAN LEAGUE

REUTERS AND AP, TORONTO

The Toronto Blue Jays’ fans came to say goodbye to Roy Halladay on Friday, but the ace pitcher said he does not think he is going anywhere.

However, if a 4-2 extra-inning loss to the Tampa Bay Rays was “Doc’s” final home start before being — as widely expected — traded, he delivered the type of gritty performance that has made him a Toronto fan favorite for 12 seasons.

“Thanks for the memories, Doc” and “Doc’s last house call” read signs hanging from the bleachers, with the 24,161 fans giving Halladay a heart-felt standing ovation when he took the mound.

With many believing he would not be back when the Blue Jays return from their six-game road trip after the Tampa Bay series, he exited to even louder applause nine innings later with the score tied 2-2.

But Halladay’s 300th career game did not have a happy ending with Evan Longoria looping a double to center in the 10th inning to score two runs and earn the Rays a victory.

“It was electric it was a great atmosphere,” Halladay (11-3) told reporters. “You have those moments over your career where it’s so much fun to be out there and obviously coming out on the wrong end of it was hard.”

“But I like being here. I think I will still be here. At this point I feel like I’m going to be here,” Halladay said. “I’m trying not to think this might have been my last start here.”

With attendance near the bottom of the league and their position in the standings heading in the same direction, the Blue Jays look prepared to enter a rebuilding phase and are seeking a high-end package of top prospects for Halladay.

There is no shortage of interest in the all-star right hander, who is widely considered the best pitcher in baseball, making it likely the next time he takes the mound at the Rogers Centre he will be wearing another uniform.

Major League Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline is July 31 but Blue Jays general manage J.P. Ricciardi has set his own deadline of July 28 and if a deal is done has said the 2003 Cy Young winner will come off the market.

Taken in the first round of the 1995 draft by the Blue Jays, Halladay has spent his entire career with the team and notched 142 wins.

But he is the only active Major League pitcher with 100 wins or more who has never played a post-season game and it is something he is eager to experience.

“They’re hard to get World Series rings,” Toronto manager Cito Gaston said. “So I can understand why Doc, whether it’s here or somewhere else, wants a World Series ring. If he’s not here we’ll find someone to go into that spot but whoever it is will certainly not fill his shoes.”

ANGELS 6, TWINS 3

The Los Angeles Angels made it seven successive wins by downing the Minnesota Twins in the American League on Friday.

The Angels maintained their 3-1/2 game lead in the AL West as pitcher John Lackey shrugged off two solo homers by AL batting leader Joe Mauer to win his third straight start. Lackey allowed only four hits in 7-2/3 innings.

Robb Quinlan, Jeff Mathis and Mike Napoli all homered as Los Angeles moved a season-best 19 games over .500.

Minnesota lost its fifth in six games to slide four games off the lead in the AL Central.

YANKEES 8, ATHLETICS 3

In New York, the hosts made it eight straight wins with a comfortable victory over Oakland.

Joba Chamberlain pitched into the eighth inning for the Yankees, allowing only two hits and striking out six. Johnny Damon drove in three runs for the New York, who are 21-5 over the past month.

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