The explosions near the finish line at the Boston Marathon remind us of the relative importance of baseball. This is yet another tragedy that our closest friends to the south need to cope with, hard on the heels of the Newtown massacre.
13 squared means exponentially more bad luck, right? Not being a believer in the metaphysical concept of ‘luck’ means good luck and bad luck are equally…um…meaningful to me. This game was a a tough one for pitchers: through 5 innings 14 of the 19 hitters had at least one hit. Combine that with a couple of walks, and the hitters were in baseball heaven. This is a good sign for the Jays. Also encouraging is that Edwin Encarnacion (3 hits) is heating up.
The flip side, of course, is that the starters struggled. If you do a little woodwork, you know that sandpaper is identified by the amount of grit: the lower the number, the rougher it is; the higher the number the smoother it is. Gavin Floyd yielded two 2B, a 3B, and 2 HR before he was taken out of the game in the fifth. It was a 36-grit game for Floyd.
Oddly though, Mark Buehrle lowered his ERA despite giving up 2 runs on 9 hits and 2 BB in 6.1 IP. It was a 120-grit game for Buehrle. After a rough first inning things were smoother for Mark Buehrle, but some fine sanding is needed to knock off the rough edges. Fun fact: Buehrle’s 4.32 ERA in March/April is his worst for any month during the regular season.
I haven’t mentioned the ‘pen much over the last few games, except to drop their names and their overall effectiveness. Tonight, after Buehrle recorded the first out of the 7th he walked the next hitter. Esmil Rogers retired Jeff Keppinger on one pitch and Alex Rios on a couple more. He was effective into the 8th, throwing only 7 pitches to record three outs. He was relieved by Aaron Loup who plunked Adam Dunn, gave up a double to Dayan Viciedo and a sac fly to Alexei Ramirez before he found his groove and struck out Tyler Flowers on 3 pitches. Closer Casey Janssen came on in the 9th and threw seeds at the bottom-outside part of the plate, striking out the first two he faced and inducing a weak ground ball to short by Jeff Keppinger.
I don’t know about you, but I’m comfortable with Janssen on the mound as a closer. His ultra-competitive nature, pinpoint control, and strong desire to do the job make him the ideal closer for this team.
Not to be overlooked in this game is that Hector Santiago, Matt Lindstrom, and Donnie Veal threw 3.2 innings of 1-hit ball, with no walks. They held the Jays at bay, giving their offense every opportunity to get back into the game. This opportunity was consistently denied them by the Jays’ ‘pen.
As another postscript, here are the relevant pitching stats for the Blue Jays’ first 12 games:
This table was adapted from http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/AL/2013.shtml
And again, a few things:
- It ain’t pretty, but subconsciously we knew that anyways;
- they’re at the bottom of the AL in good stuff, but at the top of the AL in the not-so-good stuff;
- this table takes into account the two good efforts by Dickey and Morrow against KC;
- there isn’t a wide distribution across the AL in shutouts or saves, so top vs. bottom of the AL isn’t terribly meaningful; and
- there aren’t as many hit batters or wild pitches as I would have expected.
The offense has struggled and the pitching has struggled. The surprise isn’t that they’re not undefeated; the surprise is that they have any wins at all.