There’s a rumble that the Jays may consider putting Brett Lawrie back at 2B (and keep Jose Bautista at 3B) while Jose Reyes recuperates from his ankle injury. There’s merit to it—it increases the offensive potential of the infield enormously, for one thing—but the idea has its shortcomings too, like defensive integrity. Even those shortcomings are mitigated somewhat by recent MLB history: the infield defense in DET isn’t exactly spectacular, but they’ve been successful.
There is another option to consider: if NPB veteran Munenori Kawasaki continues to offer steady offense and good defense, then Lawrie can play 3B (where he’s very good), Izturis can man 2B (he’s a better 2b than 3B), and Jose can resume patrolling RF. Frankly, I think a multinational infield—an American or Dominican at 1B, a Venezuelan at 2B, a Canadian at 3B, and a Japanese SS—reflects Canadian values very accurately.
Anyhow, the pitching was very good in the game. Ervin Santana scattered seven hits and three walks over 8 IP, while striking out three. He was relieved by Kelvin Herrera in the 9th. Brandon Morrow also pitched well for the good guys, allowing 6 hits and a walk in 6 IP. The ‘pen was solid again for the Jays until the 9th inning, when Darren Oliver gave up a double and a single as the Royals walked off for their seventh win on the young season.
Offensively, neither teams’ effort was very inspired. Edwin Encarnacion provided all of the punch for the punchless Jays with an RBI groundout and a solo HR. The Royals threatened often, and finally pushed across the winning run in the bottom of the ninth.
Not to detract from the respective pitching efforts, but the Jays need to be more creative offensively. This is especially the case when the offense is struggling to score runs consistently. Through seven Santana put eight Blue Jays on base (six hits, two walks). Some of those base runners were rabbits, and some of the Jays at the plate were in good spots to bunt. Yet it’s not happening very often.
Then there’s the prospect of bunting for hits, bunting in non-traditional bunting situations, hit-and-run, and run-and-hit simply because the Jays have players who can do it. They also have the other crucial element: speed. Again, it’s not happening very often.
This facet of the offense is something the Jays haven’t possessed for years and, even though it’s somewhat compromised in Jose Reyes’ absence, it’s something which I believe the Blue Jays need to exploit much more frequently than they do. At the risk of ‘ranting,’ I want John Gibbons to have the freedom and opportunity to get to know his players but their team speed used is a lethal weapon. It’s time to use it.
As a postscript, the following table presents some of the Jays’ key stats and their AL rank prior to today’s game.
*This table was adapted from http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/AL/2013.shtml
A few things:
- They haven’t been caught stealing yet;
- There are only a handful of categories in which the Jays are above AL average in a positive way;
- Despite being top 7 in 2B, 3B, and HR, the Jays are 10th in SLG;
- Only HOU has struck out more often; and
- Only four teams have an OBP below .300, and TOR is tied with TB at .295.
It’s time to steal some bases.