Mission ’13, Game 19: Jays win 8-4

The Jays decided to bat Munenori Kawasaki lead-off to kick start their offense. Coming into the game he averaged 5 pitches per at-bat: he singled on the seventh pitch, and came around to score the first run of the game in the first inning. Then ‘Nori came to bat with one out and runners on the corners in the 2nd, and he hit a sac fly on the third pitch to make it 2-0 Jays. I’m pretty sure Kawasaki saw more pitches in his first two at-bats (10) than Rajai would see in a whole game. Music, sweet music.

Josh Johnson was pitching well in the early going, having allowed a couple of base runners but shutting the door just as quickly as they opened it. Chris Stewart, the light-hitting #9 hitter, kicked that door open: he homered in the top of the third to get the NYY on the board.

In the bottom of the third the Jays hit into perhaps their toughest double play of the young season. Jose Bautista was on first and Edwin Encarnacion hit a long fly ball to deep left field. Former Jay and Gold Glover Vernon Wells timed his jump perfectly, caught the ball at the top of the wall, then threw it to the infield where the DP was completed. A case could be made that Bautista strayed too far (he’d rounded 2B), but it was a terrific catch by Vdub. That seems to be the kind of thing that happens when you’re struggling to score runs.

I got a kick out of Buck Martinez offering the opinion that he believes Josh Johnson is a ‘workhorse’ who will go out and give ‘7, 8, 9 innings’ when he’s healthy. I don’t know why Buck holds that opinion. Josh Johnson has been a professional baseball player since 2002, and has passed the 150 IP mark four times in 11 seasons. In 147 MLB starts prior to this season, he had 4 CG. If he works past the sixth, his effectiveness drops off substantially and has only pitched 25 innings past the seventh in his entire career and he has a 7.20 ERA in the 8th/9th innings. Workhorse, indeed.

In the fifth inning, the wheels came part way off for Josh Johnson. He loaded the bases with two out, then he walked Lyle Overbay after jumping ahead in the count 1-2. It was the four-pitch walk to Eduardo Nunez, a .179 hitter, that was insulting. It gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead.

The Yankees added to their lead in the sixth. Johnson, who had been in and out of trouble, was pulled with one out and relieved by Brett Cecil. Cecil, one of the Jays’ most reliable pitchers out of the ‘pen in the early going, gave up a sac fly to Ty Cobb, er, Brett Gardiner, then retired Robinson Cano on a weak grounder to 2B.

Johnson’s line for the game: 5.1 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 4 K. It was unimpressive but he is their fourth starter, after all.

The Jays, on the strength of an Adam Lind walk (his 7th consecutive PA getting on base) and a JP Arencibia double, knocked Ivan Nova out of the game in the bottom of the sixth. Nova’s line for the game was equally unimpressive: 5+ IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 5 K. Colby Rasmus plated Lind with a broken bat, humpback liner against lefty Boone Logan, making the score 4-3. David Phelps relieved Logan with no one out, runners on the corners, and Brett Lawrie at the plate. Lawrie greeted Phelps with a 2-run double down the left field line. After an Izturis flyout to CF, fan favourite Munenori Kawasaki came to the plate and struck out. He saw five pitches, giving him a total of 15 in his first three Abs. Melky Cabrera followed with a single to right that brought Lawrie home. Jose Bautista grounded weakly to short, but the damage was done: 5 H, 1 BB, 4 R led to a 6-4 Jays lead.

When you consider the Jays’ struggles offensively and that Vdub’s terrific catch stopped the Jays cold in the third, the comment that Buck and Tabby made about Nova, “he’s pitched just well enough to get out of trouble”, was accurate. Today it applied well to both starters.

Does Buck Martinez not realize that the only way “the possibility of a double play is removed” is if the runner is somehow removed from the bases? The runner advancing to second (or third) does not remove the possibility of a team recording a double play. Here are some potential double plays to consider with a runner on second or third base: strike out/throw out; fly out/throw out; ground out/run down; single/throw out/throw out; tag out/interference; fly ball/bonehead running play when the player on base forgets how many outs there were; line out/tag out. I could go on. C’mon, Buck: you’ve played and managed in the big leagues. It’s time for your commentary to rise to that level. Next time, I’ll tackle the comment, “the runner on base doesn’t mean anything”, when a team with a lead puts a runner on and faces the tying run at the plate or in the on deck circle.

Adam Lind walked with one out in the 7th, making it 8 consecutive PAs getting on base. Amazingly, All-or-nothing-Arencibia drilled his 7th HR in the 7th—a two-run shot scoring Lind ahead of him to make the score 8-4. It was an Arencibia Hat Trick: JP doubled, homered and struck out in the game. JP now has 6 singles, 5 doubles, 7 home runs and 28 strike outs this season. His updated ISO is .361. Incredible. Hitting 4th, he’s a joke; hitting 6th or lower, he can be deadly.

As frustrating as it’s been even into the first two games of this series, I’m going to choose to see it as a transitional series for the Jays. Their defense was much better, their offense showed marked improvement, and their pitching continued to improve. Walks (Lind, 5 in the series), breakouts by dormant players (Lawrie and Melky), timely hits, stellar double plays, pitching ahead in the count, aggressiveness on the mound, taking more pitches at the plate (Kawasaki saw 18 pitches in 4 ABs, even though he K’ed twice) are some of the encouraging signs of improvement.

Wes Kepstro


4 Responses to “Mission ’13, Game 19: Jays win 8-4”

  1. 1 Idiot Fan April 22, 2013 at 11:22 am

    Buck is awful though. Blank cheque to Dan Schulman. Please

  2. 3 @ALEastbound April 21, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    Nice read. Funny I thought the same JJ workhorse comment was ridiculous also. Come on Buck.

    • 4 Wes Kepstro April 21, 2013 at 4:51 pm

      Having done some play-by-play I know it’s not easy, so I tend to lean toward understanding. Mistakes are made, you go with your gut or intuition, you rely on impressions, etc., but this is baseball. You can have a laptop, phone, tablet, or whatever sitting right in front of you to check out stuff between innings.

      Then again, maybe I’m just getting critical in my old age… 🙂

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