Mission ’13, Game 5: Jays win 5-0

A 2-run homer by JP Arencibia and a 3-run homer by Colby Rasmus provided the offense. Shutdown pitching by JA Happ, Steve Delabar, Aaron Loup, and Sergio Santos. Combine these elements with stellar defense by Emilio Bonifacio and Colby Rasmus, and it adds up to a very nice Blue Jay win. It was the first time that all of the different elements came together in the same game. And it looked good.

On the mound, Happ was better than solid. He yielded a lead-off double to Jacoby Ellsbury and three walks in 5 1/3 IP, and left looking tired but frustrated that he didn’t finish the inning. Steve Delabar came in to slam the door. Aaron Loup followed Delabar, striking out two and inducing a weak hopper back to the mound. Santos came in for the ninth and threw hard. Really hard. The only blemish on his time was a grounder into the hole at short that Dustin Pedroia legged out for the Red Sox second hit of the game. The final out was a deep fly ball by Mike Napoli that Rasmus caught while crashing into the wall in right-centre field. Jays’ pitchers walked 3 but struck out 11 in the game, and allowed only two hits.

JA Happ’s mound opponent, John Lackey, looked very good. Through 4 1/3 IP, he’d recorded 8 Ks while giving up JPA’s 2-run HR. Then he was injured throwing a 2-2 pitch to Jose Reyes. He grimaced on the previous pitch, gingerly massaging his right bicep, but then grabbed his arm in obvious pain on a breaking pitch that almost hit Reyes. Teammates, training staff and coaches surrounded him and he was taken out of the game. Preliminary reports received during the game said it was a bicep strain. Here’s to hoping it’s not more serious that that.

His replacement, Alfredo Aceves, is where I want to focus for a few thoughts. Aceves has a rubber arm, but has struggled since joining the Red Sox. The point was made during the game that he is in the process of saving their bullpen for as much as two weeks. I’m inclined to agree with that assessment.

An injury replacement, as Aceves was today, is allowed as much time as he needs to get ready. When he was warm, Aceves walked Reyes (completing the at-bat) and eventually gave up the 3-run HR to Rasmus (it hit the facing of the 3rd deck in CF). Ineffective, one might conclude. I disagree. Set aside the runs as insignificant for the moment, as the Jays didn’t need them. Aceves pitched 3 2/3 innings, giving up 3 H, 2 BB, while striking out 5. Had he struggled after completing the walk to Reyes, Farrell may have needed to call on the ‘pen again and again. It wasn’t masterful, and it sure wasn’t pretty (Rasmus’s HR scored Lind and DeRosa ahead of him; think about that for a minute…), but it was exactly what John Farrell and the Red Sox needed.

Keeping that tidbit in mind, the Jays optioned Jeremy Jeffress to AAA Buffalo and recalled former Jay David Bush. Bush offers the same sort of thing to the Jays as Aceves offers the Red Sox: a rubber arm with good stuff, and the ability/stamina to go 3+ innings.

This is one reason why MLB teams, and the Jays in particular, spend so much time picking and choosing bullpen arms, and why they sign and send so many ML-calibre pitchers to their AAA affiliates.

It was a thing of beauty for the Jays and their fans today. The only error was of the throwing variety as JP Arencibia tried to catch a runner attempting to steal 2B. The score tells us all we need to know about how important that error was.

Wes Kepstro

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