The game was delayed by rain for about two and a half hours and, rather than starting with a recap, I want to make some observations. In the bottom of the first Prince Fielder came to the plate with runners on the corners. Austin Jackson was on 3B, but slow-moving Miguel Cabrera was on 1B. Lefty Mark Buehrle was in an ideal position to get a double play and get out of the inning. Then something happened that I didn’t expect. Fielder hit a weak grounder to Reyes, then ran HARD to first. He beat the turn on the DP and the Tigers scored the first run of the game. Fielder also ran hard on a weak grounder to 2B in the 6th to keep the inning going.
In the top of the second, Colby Rasmus came to the plate with Arencibia on 1B, hit a weak grounder toward the mound. Inexplicably, he didn’t run hard to first. On a cool, wet day when the ball is slippery, running hard puts pressure on the defender—in this case the pitcher, Rick Porcello—to make the play. Colby didn’t, and I honestly can’t think of a good reason why he didn’t.
In the bottom of the second, Emilio Bonifacio made another error at 2B—his fourth—and an unearned run scored to make it 2-0 Tigers.
The Blue Jays are being outplayed in every facet of the game by a team not known for its strength in the fundamentals. Bonifacio’s woes are on the line between acceptable and unacceptable for two reasons: he’s a better OF than IF, but Brett Lawrie’s injury has left them short in the IF. However, it’s remedied by playing Maicer at 2B and DeRosa at 3B. They’re also being out-hustled by a team not really known for its ‘hustle.’ Colby Ramsus being out-hustled by Prince Fielder is inexcusable.
These are some of the little things that win ball games. However, along with their woes in the field, at the plate, and on the mound, the Jays really aren’t doing many of these little things to help themselves scratch out a win or two.
Then in the top of the fifth Colby hit a bullet off the wall in right. Wily veteran Torii Hunter decoyed, making it look like he had a play on the ball. Again, Colby didn’t hustle and he ended up with a single instead of a double on the play. This time, some little things made a difference in a good way. Izturis came to the plate and Manager Gibbons put on the hit and run, which kept the Jays out of a double play as Rasmus was safe at 2B. The next batter, Emilio Bonifacio, blooped a double into shallow left field, scoring Rasmus.
Unfortunately Mark Buehrle retired only one batter and gave up another run in the bottom of the fifth before John Gibbons brought in Steve Delabar to extricate the Jays from a bases loaded jam. He didn’t: after two walks and a bloop single, the Jays trailed 6-1.
In the top of the sixth, Melky, Jose and Edwin all collected hits to score a run. It was Edwin’s second double of the game. Then Mark DeRosa doubled to score two more before a fly out and two strikeouts ended the threat.
Aaron Loup, Brett Cecil, Darren Oliver, and Casey Janssen pitched four innings of 3-hit, no-walk baseball, and the Jays were home free.
There were several encouraging signs in this game. The Jays pecked away at any lead they faced. Both Melky and Edwin had multi-hit games, which may signify that they’re breaking out of their respective slumps. John Gibbons argued a call. He was wrong, but at least someone has some fire. Aaron Loup wasn’t sharp, but he pitched another shutout inning. With a double and a walk Mark DeRosa had 3 RBI off the bench. JP Arencibia continues to hit well, as his 3-run double against Octavio Dotel capped the comeback for the Jays.
There’s one real head-scratcher, though. When they acquired the speedy players, the team I envisioned them playing was DET. Why? DET has arguably the worst fielding corner infielders in baseball. I’m still waiting for the bunt-a-thon. There have been a couple attempts thus far, none of them successful.
It’s good to see the Jays pull one out of the hat. It wasn’t pretty; it was timely. When it gets mixed in with the rest of the wins at the end of the year it won’t matter what it looked like.