This will be game #18 that Melky’s playing against one of his former teams. Without researching this much deeper, it seems like an awful lot of games against a former team. He even has Jose Bautista beat, and Jose counts the O’s, Rays and Royals among his former teams (and Pitt, whom the Jays don’t play this year). Anyways, going back to the Tampa series Melky is now 12 for his last 36 so he’s still cookin’. He’s hitting the ball hard, and is tied for the team lead in both doubles (Bautista; Arencibia) and triples (Kawasaki; Lawrie).
Melky’s May Meter
It’s the Bravos again, but this time in Georgia. They split the two-game miniseries at The Rog, and now they continue hostilities at Turner Field. For the record The Rog is one of the most generous parks for giving up runs (1.131 PF; #5), while Turner Field is one of the stingiest (0.903 PF; #24). Here’s to hoping that this two-game set helps Esmil Rogers (72.6% LOB) tonight, and helps RA Dickey (67.4% LOB) round into his Cy Young form tomorrow night.
Tonight there are some new faces in Blue Jays’ jerseys. Brett Lawrie has been placed on the 15 day DL, Ramon Ortiz was DFA’ed, and Thad Weber was optioned to AAA. The Jays recalled pitchers Todd Redmond, Neal Wagner, and Juan Perez from Buffalo to fill out the roster. Redmond was hit pretty hard in AAA, but Wagner and Perez put up solid numbers as relievers.
The first inning was a good one for the Jays. A lead off single by Melky against Kris Medlen and a hit by Edwin allowed JP Arencibia to plate the first run of the game. The Jays led 1-0.
The bottom of the inning was equally encouraging. Esmil Rogers, who has pitched very effectively of late, allowed a lead off single to Andrelton Simmons. That hit was erased by a double play and then Rogers struck out Justin Upton to end the inning.
Maicer Izturis made an out to begin the second, then the Jays came alive. A single and a stolen base by Bonifacio, then a walk by Munenori Kawasaki brought the pitcher, Esmil Rogers to the plate. Rogers executed a perfect sacrifice bunt, leading to a Melky single into left field. The Blue Jays scored two, making it 3-0.
Rogers got himself into a jam in the bottom of the second by giving up a triple to Freddie Freeman and a walk to Brian McCann with nobody out. He recorded two outs—a strikeout and a fielder’s choice—bringing BJ Upton to the plate. BJ Upton has hit 15 HR against the Jays in his career, all of which came when he was patrolling the OF with the Rays. Rogers fell behind in the count 3-0 before coming all the way back for the strikeout. The lead off triple was stranded. That’s two good innings for Rogers.
Kris Medlen was hurt by a line drive in the 2nd, and was relieved by David Carpenter. Of note is that David Carpenter was a throw-in in the JA Happ trade last July, and was the player traded to the Red Sox in the deal that sent John Farrell to Boston.
It’s good to see Maicer Izturis come to the plate in an inning with promise. He’s one of the worst players in MLB (check www.fangraphs.com) and David Carpenter struggled with his control. Maicer swung at the first pitch he saw. Carpenter had already walked two—Edwin and Colby—and instead of bunting the players up a base, he swung, grounding into an inning-ending double play. The only plus is that it makes it seem as if Carpenter pitched well, meaning he’ll bat lead off and he’ll pitch next inning.
Carpenter flied out to Bautista in RF and Andrelton Simmons flied out to Rasmus in LCF before Rogers walked massively-struggling (.155/.305/.258) Jason Heyward on 4 pitches. The Braves, though, strike out an awful lot, and Justin Upton—who’s cooled off after a very hot start to the season—struck out to end the inning. It was another good inning for Rogers.
A slap single into the hole at short by Bonifacio started the 4th inning, but was erased almost immediately on a CS. Given the two walks in his first inning, perhaps stealing wasn’t the best call by the Jays. Munenori worked Carpenter for a full-count walk, bringing Rogers to the mound in another sacrifice situation. Carpenter’s had trouble throwing strikes to Rogers but Esmil laid down another excellent sacrifice bunt, this time up the first base line. Melky, who came into the game sporting a .368 OBP in May (.291 in April), walked to put runners on first and second, but Jose popped out foul on the first pitch to end the inning. The Jays squandered an opportunity in this inning. Carpenter wasn’t sharp and the Braves have only 6 pitchers in the ‘pen. A single and 2 walks didn’t lead to anything. The Braves are a quick-strike team with their power; hopefully it doesn’t come to that.
Esmil Rogers put two of the first three hitters on base in the 4th inning, and was relieved by Juan Perez. It was a good spot start by Rogers, who was on a pitch count of about 65 pitches. Not only did he acquit himself well on the mound, but he was an important contributor at the plate with 2 sacrifice bunts. His line: 3.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 B, 4 SO.
Perez is a career minor leaguer, but a fringe major leaguer. He throws a fastball and a lot of sliders. He came in with runners on first and second and induced a foul pop-up by Juan Francisco. The next batter, BJ Upton, struck out on 4 pitches, 3 of which were sliders.
David Carpenter’s contribution was amazing. The Blue Jays have become a good offensive team but Carpenter held them at bay by being effectively wild. He faced 12 batters, walking 4 and giving up an infield single, without giving up a run. He only struck out one.
34-year old Juan Perez was considerably less wild than Carpenter, but no less effective. He retired all 8 batters he faced, 4 by strikeout, and got Rogers out of a jam. Because of injuries and ineffectiveness the Blue Jays have pitched by committee again tonight, and they’ve done well.
The Braves have also pitched by committee—not by design; Medlen was injured—and have also done well. Anthony Varvaro retired the Jays in order in the sixth, keeping his team close.
Neal Wagner relieved Perez to pitch the 7th inning. Wagner’s numbers at Buffalo were eye-popping, as he filled the closer’s role in AAA about as effectively as Janssen has with Toronto. Not for the first time, I wonder how AAA fans feel when their best players are cherry-picked to fill roster spots. Wagner’s 29, throws a fastball, slider and a splitter, and in his first inning he hit 98 mph on the gun. He struck out the first two batters he faced and induced a medium-depth fly ball to Bautista to complete his first ML inning since 2011. He was consistently in the 95-97 mph range, and topped out at 98 mph If he can command th strike zone, he’s a keeper.
Jordan Walden, formerly the ‘next thing’ with the LAA, pitched effectively in his one inning of work. Walden, fresh off the DL because of shoulder inflammation, also topped out at 97-98 mph.
A broken-bat duck-snort into shallow left field by Jordan Schaefer broke a string of 11 straight batters retired by the Jays. Andrelton Simmons then immediately grounded into a 1-4-3 DP and Jason Heyward popped out to third to end the 8th inning.
Esmil Rogers and the call-ups—Juan Perez and Neal Wagner—did their job very well with 8 IP of 4-hit, 2-walk, shutout ball. They turned the ball over to Casey Janssen for the 9th inning. Justin Upton popped to deep short/shallow center for the first out, Freddy Freeman flied out to shallow left, and McCann struck out.
This was one of the Jays’ best games of the year, with the combined four-hit shutout. The offense was timely—it was th first time in 6 games that the Jays counted neither 11 hits nor 5 runs—and efficient, the defense was solid, and the pitching was excellent. It was a good win.