Role Players Rajai Davis, Shawn Hill, Lead Toronto Blue Jays To 3-2 Win Over Yanks

By tomsanders
Tom Szczerbowski – US PRESSWIRE


Rajai Davis and Shawn Hill filled the most useful of roles this afternoon in the Toronto Blue Jays’ 3-2 win over the New York Yankees at Rogers Centre.

Davis homered and singled twice, and Hill pitched three shutout innings of middle relief to get the win. And the Spankees are no closer to the AL East title than they were when they came to the ball park.

Rajai Davis is one of those players every team needs.  He’s a journeyman who’s modeled several big league uniforms, isn’t known by many fans outside his home city, has adequate big league skills but is among the best in the game at one aspect of the game.

At the start of play today, his total of 45 steals is the major leagues’ second best.  Only the Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout, with 47, has more.

The casual fan in Detroit Tigers country remembers him as the last out in Justin Verlander’s second no-hitter.

The serious fan thinks of other middle-of-the-pack players — like Quintin Berry, speaking of the other home team — who contribute something to every game in which they play.

This year, if Davis wasn’t doing it with speed, it was with a well-timed hit (seven in a row in his last two games), and that one great catch back in July.

What a long, strange trip it’s been for Shawn Hill, from Missasauga, Ontario, well-traveled at age 31, among a handful of active former Montreal Expos.

His post-Expos big league homes include the Washington Nationals, the San Diego Padres, the Jays, the then Florida Marlins, and back to the Jays this September.

Throw in a 2005 season missed with Tommy John surgery, and his return journey to the big leagues becomes even more circuitous.

This afternoon, Ricky Romero came out early, losing 2-1. Skipper John Farrell needed someone to keep the Jays in the game, and Hill was the guy.

Middle relief is tail-end Charlie duty. If your team wins, the closer gets the credit. If it’s a loss, you’re forgotten along with the rest of the game. But every manager absolutely has to have a couple guys in the pen who can enter early and hold off the opposition, and give their mates a chance to win.

Zeroes in the middle of the pitching summary, and the role player who knows how to win, always remind Your Jays Writer of a freshly-cut lawn, or dinner cooked to perfection. Such vital, beautiful things. Especially in the summertime, one after the other.




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