JA Happ needed only 7 pitches to retire the side in order in the first inning but the second inning wasn’t pretty: a double, a walk, and a three-run HR by Tyler Flowers made it a 3-0 game early. So much for Flowers’ 1-28 slump. It took Happ 30 pitches to get out of the second. It was an ominous portent.
In academia, it’s called an excursus. In literature and on the stage, it’s called an aside. On here, it’s called a rabbit trail. Tonight’s rabbit trail is about the pitch used very frequently as a strikeout pitch against the Jays: the high fastball. If you watch the games on a screen (phone, laptop, tablet, tv, etc.), it’s very apparent. The CF camera shows the catcher making a sign then almost coming out of his crouch to encourage the pitcher to throw one WAY up and out of the strike zone. This strategy is used frequently against the Jays, suggesting that the scouting report says the Jays like to swing at high fastballs. It was used twice with Brett Lawrie, including twice in his fourth inning at bat. It will be interesting to see how long it takes the Jays to adjust.
Scary moment #47: in the top of the fourth, leadoff hitter and right fielder Rajai Davis twisted his ankle awkwardly while chasing down a slicing line drive by Paul Konerko. He dropped the ball—it was Rajai, after all—and limped before throwing the ball back to the infield and keeping the runner at 2B—it was Konerko, after all. We’ll watch for any negative effects. Alexei Ramirez extended the lead by driving Konerko home with a double of his own.
How much are the Jays missing the Joses? The offense has been very quiet, with the Jays unable to string together hits and so spark a rally or two per game. Game in and game out the offense has relied very heavily on the home run, Melky Cabrera has one xbh, Lawrie is re-adjusting, but the Jays as a team are striking out like it’s their job.
In the midst of this, Munenori Kawasaki has been an unexpected boon to the offense in the absence of one Jose. His 10-pitch AB-then-walk preceded a Rajai Davis double, then a weak groundout to thee shortstop by Melky Cabrera. There will be thousands of situations just like this one over the course of the season; it just seems as if they have been over-represented in the early going.
JA Happ couldn’t keep the string going. The Jays received solid starts from Dickey, Morrow, Buehrle, and Johnson, but Happ was ineffective tonight. In 5.2 IP, he gave up 5 ER on 6 hits (2 HR), and a walk. He was relieved by 39-year old Ramon Ortiz (3.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K), who was about effective as Dave Bush.
Jose Quintana, tonight’s starter for the ChiSox, was in a little bit of trouble in most innings, but the Jays couldn’t capitalize. Stat of the night: the Jays have 3 hits with runners in scoring position at The Rog. Keep in mind that they have played 12 home games already: they’re averaging one hit every four games with RISP.
Quintana pounds the strike zone like a heavyweight champ, which pressures the batter to put the ball in play or strike out. The Jays did plenty of the latter again (e.g. Rasmus, 4 K). The strikeouts would be easier to take if they were getting on base more regularly, but get this: CHI strikes out as much as TOR, but their OBP is 20 points lower and their SLG % is 21 points lower. Sometimes this game is tough to figure. As if to emphasize the point, the Pale Hose scored two runs on three hits and a walk in the seventh, while in the bottom of the inning Kawasaki chased Quintana with his second single only to have Rajai swing at and ground out on the first pitch from RP Jesse Crain.
The blowouts are the games that I dislike most. This is the third time that the Jays have been blown out this season.