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Eyre can't stop Jays in loss

Eyre can't stop Jays in loss

TORONTO -- One of the last things that Willie Eyre expected to see when he arrived at the ballpark was his name on the lineup as the Rangers' starting pitcher. But that's exactly what happened.

Eyre received very late notice that he was a spot starter and his early inning struggles led to a 9-5 Rangers loss to the Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon at Rogers Centre.

"I was surprised," Eyre said. "We all thought [Mike] Wood was starting."

Saturday's start originally belonged to right-hander Kameron Loe, but he was scratched late on Friday night, when it was learned that he would need to be placed on the 15-day disabled list with tightness in his lower back.

Rangers manager Ron Washington then announced that the team would be recalling right-hander Mike Wood from Triple-A Oklahoma to take Loe's spot in the rotation.

The only problem was, Wood had thrown 81 pitches in an eight-inning start on Wednesday and would've been forced to start on just two days' rest.

So it wasn't until Eyre arrived at Rogers Centre, just three hours before the opening pitch, that he was informed he would thrown into starting duties.

It didn't take long for the 29-year-old to find himself in hot water. Eyre allowed the first four batters he faced to reach base, and by the time Jays designated hitter Frank Thomas came to bat in the No. 5 spot of the order, Toronto was already leading 2-0. Thomas extended that lead to five when he crushed the first pitch he saw from Eyre over the wall in left for his 17th home run of the season.

"I knew going into that situation," Thomas said, "that he was probably going to try to get ahead and I didn't want to miss it. I've been taking a lot of those lately. I'm not a big-time first-ball hitter. ... That was just one of those situations where I picked a spot."

Eyre's struggles didn't stop there. When the first inning was all said and done, the Jays had sent 10 batters to the plate and tallied six runs.

Even though Eyre (3-4) had very little time to prepare for Saturday's start, he says it didn't factor into his outing. After all, he knew he was scheduled to make an appearance during the game anyways.

"That had nothing to do with anything," said Eyre, who finished with seven earned runs over 2 1/3 innings. "I think I made a lot of good pitches. There's a couple to take back, obviously, but I thought I threw well and they just got me."

Trying to come back from an early-inning deficit is something the Rangers have had to deal with all this season. Texas has been outscored 80-45 in the first inning.

"We just haven't been able to make the pitches we need to make in those situations," Washington said. "We've been working hard, and pretty soon, that'll turn back around."

Eyre managed to get through the second inning unscathed, but ran into more trouble in the third, when he surrendered another home run to Thomas, his 18th. The solo shot marked the 505th homer of Thomas' career, moving him past Hall of Famer Eddie Murray for 20th on the all-time list.

While Eyre regretted the pitch he made during Thomas' first at-bat, he says there wasn't much he could have done with the second.

"The first one was right down the middle," Eyre said. "The next one was, I thought, a good pitch away, but he got it. I tip my cap to Frank. He's a pretty good hitter."

For the second consecutive day, the Rangers had plenty of opportunities at the plate, but they were unable to get the timely hit when they needed it the most. Texas scored a run in three out of the first four innings of the game, off Jays starter Shaun Marcum, but were unable to deliver the knockout blow. Marcum (8-4) managed to get through six innings, allowing three runs on eight hits while striking out five.

In total, the Rangers stranded nine runners, which brings their total number to 17 over the first two games of the Toronto series.

"Marcum did what he had to do in those situations and we just didn't deliver," Washington lamented after the game.

The Rangers tried to mount a ninth-inning rally to get themselves back into the game, but it was too little, too late. In the end, coming back from Toronto's early offensive output just proved to be too daunting of a task.

"They went out and had a good first inning," said Rangers shortstop Michael Young. "We had to battle back after that, knowing we were facing an uphill battle, and they kept putting runs on the board. They went out and scored nine, it was tough for us to go out and put up 10."

Gregor Chisholm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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