One of the biggest statistical trends over the course of the internet generation has been the gradual devaluation of the pitcher win. Once considered one of, if not the most important measure of a pitcher's ability, the pitcher won/loss record is at the point now where it's commonly either ripped to shreds or ignored entirely. But that's among fans. The pitchers themselves still care. The pitchers always like to see good numbers next to their names in the box score.
So one can only imagine how Jo-Jo Reyes felt. Coming into action on Monday, Reyes hadn't earned a win for a record-tying 28 consecutive starts dating back to 2008, and though he seemed relatively at ease about the whole thing, one figured it was still gnawing at him inside. One figured that, for Reyes, a win would only come as the greatest relief.
On Monday, Reyes took the mound with another opportunity to put the streak to rest. But in order to do so - and in order to avoid setting a new record he could call his own - he would have to pitch his Blue Jays past the Indians, who own the best record in the American League. The chance would not be an easy one to seize.
But, God love him, Reyes seized it, with help from his offense. Reyes pitched around a base runner in the first. He pitched around two base runners in the second. He pitched around a base runner in the third. After Jayson Nix gave the Jays a 2-0 lead with a home run, Reyes gave one back in the fourth on a homer by Shelley Duncan, but he pitched around a base runner to keep the score there, and that was when good fortune smiled.
In the bottom of the fourth, facing Fausto Carmona, the Blue Jays gave Reyes another seven runs of support. Rajai Davis, Jose Bautista and J.P. Arencibia all pounded out run-scoring doubles as Toronto took a 9-1 lead. At that point, the game was safely in Reyes' hands; all he'd have to do was pitch through the fifth. He pitched through the fifth, working around another two base runners.
The Jays only added on to their lead in the bottom half, and armed with a ten-run advantage, Reyes pitched free and easy the rest of the way, going the distance and striking out Jack Hannahan with his 121st and final pitch of the day. Already on its feet, the modest Rogers Centre crowd roared while Arencibia gave Reyes a hug and all the pitchers came out to greet him at the mound. While it was the eighth time that Reyes' team had won one of his starts since the beginning of the streak, it was the first time that Reyes got credit.
Reyes allowed eight hits and four walks while striking out four, lowering his ERA to 4.15. It was the fifth time this season that he's limited his opponent to three or fewer runs.
The series continues Tuesday, with Mitch Talbot and Brandon Morrow.