Mission ’13, Game 11: Jays win 3-2

I’d have been happy with any sort of win, but RA Dickey was masterful in his third start of the season. How masterful? Early in the season, when averages fluctuate wildly, RA’s ERA dropped from 8.44 to 5.82. He had 7 base runners in 6.1 IP (5 H, 2 BB). Sticking to a pitch count-oriented philosophy, John Gibbons called on Darren Oliver to relieve Dickey at the 100-pitch mark. (It’s likely that he would have been allowed to complete the inning had Alcides Escobar not doubled.) Chris Getz followed with a drag bunt to score Escobar, who had stolen 3B without a throw on the previous pitch.

Offensively, the Jays were efficient. Munenori Kawasaki, in his first start at Jose Reyes’ replacement at SS, drove in the Jays’ first run with a sacrifice fly (Izturis doubled, then advanced to 3B on a productive groundout to the right side of the diamond by Henry Blanco). The Jays’ other hit in the first 6 innings was a 2-run HR by Jose Bautista, scoring Kawasaki, who had walked.

The real story about the Jays’ offense was shiny, new Royals ace James Shields. One of the reasons the Royals acquired the well-known Jays’ killer was to import the fragrance of victory from Tampa. The Royals’ braintrust is ecstatic with his influence on the rest of the staff. In the game itself, Shields was his usual self. He allowed 2 hits and 3 walks in his first CG of the season. This is precisely why pitcher wins/losses are somewhat less than meaningful.

The Jays were solid defensively. Reyes’ injury presents obvious difficulties, which have been handled well in the first game-plus that they’ve needed to ‘scramble.’ The defensive gem of this game came when Colby Rasmus chased down a well-hit ball to deep center field. That play also gave the Blue Jays and their fans palpitations, as Rasmus crashed into the wall after making the catch. Henry Blanco was solid behind the plate, with one passed ball that didn’t hurt the Jays.

The Jays’ ‘pen wasn’t spectacular but did a very workman-like job. Closer Casey Janssen gave up a run on a hit and a walk, Sergio Santos fought his control, Oliver gave up the hit that led to the first run, and Brett Cecil recorded one out. Two observations, though. First, the RA Dickey-to-Darren-Oliver progression may be the oldest in Jays’ history, and maybe baseball history. Second, the out recorded by Cecil was a strikeout, giving him 9 in 6.1 IP. He has no ERA, and has given up 2 hits and 3 walks. In short, Brett Cecil has been a revelation.

This is the second game in 11 that we’ve seen what the Jays are capable of doing as a team. They’ve scored a lot in some games, played well defensively in other games, but only in Happ’s first start and Dickey’s third start have we witnessed good offense, defense, and pitching at the same time. In other words, we’ve caught two glimpses of this teams’ potential. When/if they put it all together, they will be a sight for Blue Jays’ fans to behold.  For now, I’m glad to see the Jays win two in a row.

Wes Kepstro

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