REMEMBER THIS GAME
Aren’t these the Jays we’ve expected all along? A Rajai walk is plated by a Bautista double in the first. Then a nice rally that had only two hard-hit balls, one of which came with two out, resulting in three runs. There was a productive out (deep fly to center field), and NO STRIKE OUTS. How refreshing.
Is Big Papi hot, or what? Fresh off the DL, he’s tearing the cover off the ball. Home run #3 by Big Papi is only part of the point for Jays’ fans, though. It was the homer by Mike Carp and the walk to Saltalamacchia that’s so frustrating. Carp is off to a hot start, but he’s no all star, and Salty only has 7 BB on the season. Three of those came in game #1 against NY. Also, the Jays just finished scratching out three runs against a pitcher who normally dominates them, and Brandon Morrow was on the verge of giving it all away. It took a brilliant play by Brett Lawrie to get leather on a sharp grounder. Then he threw to 2B for the force, and Boni relayed it to 1B for the DP. It was an astounding play just to keep the ball on the infield; getting two outs was unreal.
Frustratingly, the Jays went very quickly and quietly in their half of the inning and the Red Sox came to bat again. Stephen Drew singled sharply up the middle and Ellsbury singled to right to start the inning. A fly ball to center preceded a run-scoring single by Dustin Pedroia, which made it 4-3 Jays. Another unusual out—Ellsbury was picked off 2B—ended the inning.
A casual observer will notice that Lester is settling in, while his Red Sox ‘mates are getting dialed in against Morrow. The disparity of the patience and professionalism of the batters for each team is glaringly obvious. The Jays manage to do it for an inning or two; for the Red Sox, it’s as natural as getting up in the morning.
A four-run lead has almost completely evaporated, and the commentators are talking as if 5 innings is all Brandon Morrow will pitch tonight. Is John Gibbons serious? Morrow has given up three runs, and Gibby’s thinking about bringing Aaron Loup in to pitch the sixth? One of these times Gibby’s going to need to let his pitchers ‘sort it out’, especially guys like Dickey and Morrow. Certainly one factor to consider is that the Jays are desperate for wins, particularly division wins, but the ‘pen will be burnt out by the All Star game. it also sends a message that you’re not confident that your starters can get themselves and the team out of a jam. Last week, both Kuroda and Sabathia did it. Neither had good stuff (for them), but both gutted it out and wound up pitching solid outings. Just because there are 8 RPs doesn’t mean they need to be used every game.
Speaking of dialed in, Edwin Encarnacion has homered into the upper deck with Rajai aboard to make the score 6-3. It was the 16th home run hit into the upper deck at The Rog, but the first by a Blue Jay since ’04 (Vernon Wells) and the first by any team since ’11. When Rajai plays like this he’s a valuable player. He’s been on base three times (BB, HBP, single), stolen a base, and scored three runs. it’s good to see both Bautista and Edwin pick him up when he’s on base so frequently.
Sure enough, Brandon Morrow threw 96 pitches in 5 IP so he’s out of the game. It was a decent start (5 IP, 3 ER, 3 BB, 7 K), but nothing special. Aaron Loup relieved him and promptly gave up a home run to pinch hitter Jonny Gomes. Jon Lester remains in the game, despite struggling with control, location, and giving up 6 runs (5 ER). The Red Sox saw 186 pitches from five pitchers in 9 innings. Jays’ hitters saw 141 pitches from three pitchers in 8 innings. Think about that for a moment. I have no idea if this is representative, but one thing it means is that Jays’ pitchers have very few secrets. BOS has seen 90 pitches from 4 relievers, and there are two games left in the series.
The Jays’ defense betrayed them again. A tailor-made DP ground ball to Kawasaki was relayed to Izturis, who flat out missed it. Kawasaki entered the game as a defensive replacement at the start of the inning, pushing Izturis to 2B. Loup is replaced by Steve Delabar, who faced Pedroia with one out and runners on the corners. Pedroia walked to load the bases. The Jays are doing everything possible to give away this ball game. The question is, will the Red Sox accept their generous offer? In a battle that pitted strength vs. strength, Delabar faced Ortiz with the bases loaded. Delabar and Arencibia struggled to get on the same page, and Delabar even crossed him up once. Ortiz doubled to clear the bases to make it 7-6 Red Sox. A strike out and a pop out ended the inning.
Rajai Davis had one of his best offensive games of the season, and Manager Gibbons decided to pinch hit for him. Junichi Tazawa struck out Adam Lind. If it wasn’t for the chicken wings, I wouldn’t have been surprised if Gibbons was fired mid-inning. Edwin crushed another 2-run home run—Jose had walked ahead of him—to ensure that the Jays re-took the lead. Could this be the turning point of this incredibly disappointing season for the Jays? Previously the game would have been over when they lost the lead. Now they’ve shown moxie, refusing to allow the other team shovel any more dirt onto the coffin. Remember this home run and this game.
All Darren Oliver needed to do was get it to the 9th so Janssen can get into the game. Predictably, he walked Salty but it didn’t amount to anything. Oliver seems to be getting sharper with each game.
In the bottom of the 8th the Jays scored a much-needed insurance run (single-sac bunt-single by JPA, Izturis, and Rasmus) against Joel Hanrahan. The Rog is almost as bad as Fenway for giving up leads. In Fenway’s case, it’s the park.
Casey Janssen pitched as you would expect: bottom, outside half of the strike zone to every batter. He’s a pleasure to watch pitch. His strategy is so simple that it should be ineffective but he’s easily the most effective pitcher on the team and, right now, in the league.
I don’t want to see any more of the ridiculous self-promoting advertisements. I don’t want to hear the idiotic theme songs any more. I don’t want to hear about any more promotions, bobble heads or otherwise. John Gibbons needs to do something meaningful. In 2008 the Blue Jays, under Gibbons’ guidance, were 11-17 in April and 35-39 when he was replaced by Cito Gaston. He’s picked up where he left off, and there’s still no reason to think that he’s a major league-calibre manager.