HOUSTON -- Right-hander Chad Jenkins officially made his return to the Blue Jays on Saturday night by tossing four innings vs. the Astros.
Jenkins was promoted from Double-A New Hampshire earlier in the day after right-hander Brad Lincoln was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo. Even though Jenkins arrived just prior to the game and made a five-hour flight earlier in the day, it didn't take long for him to make a mark.
The 25-year-old came on in relief of Chien-Ming Wang and pitched much better than his line would indicate in part because of some shoddy defense in the field. Jenkins allowed three runs, but only one was earned because of an error by Jose Reyes while Rajai Davis also couldn't come up with a catch in right.
"Coming into today, I knew I was probably going to throw, and sure enough, that third inning that phone rings and I said, 'I'm back,'" Jenkins said. "It was fun, though. I wanted to pitch and I got to pitch, so it's all I can ask for."
Jenkins made three starts for Toronto earlier this season and posted a respectable 3.60 ERA in 15 innings. He was then relegated to the Minors before his season was derailed because of a right shoulder injury.
The 25-year-old will serve in a long relief role along with right-hander Esmil Rogers to help a bullpen that has been overworked and is looking for a break over the final five weeks of the year.
"For me, right now, I just want to pitch and whatever gets me into the game, I'll be glad to stay there," Jenkins said. "If they want to keep me in the 'pen as the long man, I'll gladly do that, I enjoyed that last year, and if they want me to start and every five days I'll go out there and give it everything I've got."
Toronto won't need a fifth starter until Sept. 3 and then again on Sept. 14. The Blue Jays have four off-days before the end of the season and that will help provide some flexibility on how much rest each of their starters get.
The only thing that's certain as of the end of August is that R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and J.A. Happ will continue to pitch every fifth day.
The fourth spot, which is currently held by Todd Redmond, and the fifth spot remain somewhat up for grabs, but Gibbons was quick to indicate that even though Rogers has been moved to the bullpen, he'll likely get another start this year.
After umps review play, Pillar tallies first career homer
HOUSTON -- Blue Jays rookie Kevin Pillar hit his first career home run on Saturday night, but it didn't exactly happen in a traditional way.
Pillar crushed a 3-2 fastball from Astros right-hander Brad Peacock and sent it deep into left-center field during the fifth inning. The ball hit off the wall and was initially ruled a double by second-base umpire Tim Timmons.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons immediately came out to argue while Pillar stood on second base. The play was then reviewed and replays would later show that the ball hit above the yellow line on the left-center field wall.
"When I got to second base I thought I hit it pretty good and thought maybe it had a shot going over the fence," Pillar said. "I tried to play it cool, but eventually I walked over to the second baseman and shortstop to ask what they thought, to see if one of them would tell me if it went over the fence. But they said 'I don't know' so I just had to wait."
The original ruling was eventually overturned and Pillar was credited with his first home run after a brief delay. Anthony Gose and Ryan Goins also scored on the three-run shot that came on the hard liner and cut the Astros lead to 7-3.
In a special moment, home-plate umpire Bill Miller handed the ball to Pillar as he crossed the plate. It was something the rookie from California said he will always remember.
"The umpire flipped me the ball before I crossed home plate and that was pretty awesome," Pillar said. "All of the umpires so far have just been really kind and with the new guys coming up, talking to us, helping us through some stuff, congratulating us on some things.
"Great feeling. In this game, there are special moments and that's one you'll never forget. You'll never forget your first hit, first home run, first time you step on the field."
The home run came just two days after Pillar recorded his first Major League hit with a sharp single to center field against the Yankees. He is now batting .133 with four RBIs in 10 games this season.
Delabar, McGowan nearing return to bullpen
HOUSTON -- Right-handed relievers Steve Delabar and Dustin McGowan could make their return to the Blue Jays' bullpen within a couple of weeks.
McGowan has been out since the July 29 with a strained oblique muscle, while Delabar was lost a couple of days later because of inflammation in his right shoulder.
Josh Johnson, Maicer Izturis, Brandon Morrow and Melky Cabrera are all out for the season, but the Blue Jays remain optimistic that their two relievers will get some additional innings under their belt before the end of the year.
"I would think so," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said." [McGowan's] playing catch and Delabar, he was on the mound a few days ago so he is moving along. I would expect we'd see both of them in a couple of weeks.
"We miss those two coming out of there. They were both good against some tough righties."
Delabar was in the middle of a breakout season when he went down with an injury. He was voted into the All-Star Game and has posted an impressive 2.90 ERA while striking out 75 batters in 49 2/3 innings.
McGowan finally got healthy this season after previously appearing in five games since 2008 because of a variety of injuries. That changed when he suffered a strained oblique, but he'll want to make it back this season to increase on his 17 innings in order to better prepare for 2014.
Izturis moved to 60-day DL, out for the season
HOUSTON -- Maicer Izturis is officially done for the season after the middle infielder was placed on the 60-day disabled list Saturday afternoon with a sprained left ankle.
Izturis suffered the injury while running out a groundball on his way to first base. The Blue Jays were originally optimistic that Izturis would be able to return again this season, but the ankle injury was more serious than expected and he has since been placed in a walking boot.
The 32-year-old Izturis will eventually head to the club's Minor League complex in Florida to begin his rehab, but he is not eligible to play again this year.
Izturis appeared in 107 games this season and posted a .236 average with five homers and 32 RBIs. In his absence, the Blue Jays will continue to use a rotating platoon of Munenori Kawasaki, Mark DeRosa and rookie Ryan Goins at second base.
With Izturis being placed on the 60-day disabled list, that opened up a spot on the 40-man roster for Chien-Ming Wang, who made Saturday night's start against the Astros.