Gross' Fifth Homer of Spring Lead Jays to Victory

Gross' Fifth Homer of Spring Lead Jays to Victory

John Gibbons found a way to motivate Gabe Gross – and that was to tell him he could possible begin the season at Triple-A Syracuse. When Gross arrived at camp the manager sat him down and explained to him the situation and why Gross did not have a good chance to make the team.

"I sat down with him when I got here and I said, 'Hey, the way we're stacking up now, you're the odd man out. We're going to go with Reed (Johnson) and (Frank) Catalanotto, but prepare yourself like you're fighting for a job.'

Gross has done exactly that as he has hit five home runs in just thirteen at bats this spring. Gross hit his fifth homer of the year this afternoon in a 7-3 victory over the defending champions.

"Gabe's on a mission," Gibbons said. "He's telling us, 'Don't forget me.' The more he does, it keeps opening our eyes. It's going to be helpful to him and the club."

Roy Halladay started the game for the Blue Jays and pitched into the third inning as he allowed six hits and three walks in 2 2/3 innings. Halladay allowed a two run single to Kevin Youkilis in the first inning and gave up a solo home run to Jeff Bailey in the third inning.

``He was just overpowering the ball,'' Toronto pitching coach Brad Arnsberg said. ``His arm is so strong, that his pitches are pretty straight right now.''

With the bases loaded and two outs, Justin Speier, who lost his closers role yesterday to Miguel Batista, relieved Halladay and struck out Dave Berg to end the inning.

``I was looking forward to being the closer,'' Speier said, ``but I believe that Gibby knows what is good for the team. It has nothing to do with what I want, I am a team player and the team comes first.''

Speier pitched 1 1/3 innings allowing just one hit while striking out three. The right-hander left in the fourth inning with the game tied at three. Five Blue Jays pitchers then combined to pitch five scoreless innings which enabled the Jays to win the game. Kerry Ligtenberg pitched a perfect fifth inning striking out two batters as Scott Schoeneweis picked up the victory allowing one hit and strucking out one during the sixth. Non-roster invitee Matt Whiteside pitched a perfect seventh inning and Jason Frasor allowed a walk and struck out a batter in the eighth. Miguel Batista came in to start the ninth inning to close the game.

``I guess there are looking for someone, like the guy who buries people" Batista said about his new role.

The Jays would score a run in the sixth, two runs in the seventh and a run in the eighth to seal the victory. Anton French drove in Guillermo Quiroz in the sixth with a single to left-field to give the Jays a 4-3 lead. The Jays broke it open in the seventh with back to back homers. The first was a two-run shot by John McDonald, which was followed by a solo shot by John-Ford Griffin.

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