Last night, I began the recap with a bold comment to remember that game. Well, you can forget it if you wish. Buchholz vs. Buehrle is a mismatch. Buchholz pitches very well against the Jays; Buehrle doesn’t pitch well against the Red Sox. Buchholz is off to a torrid start; Buehrle is not. Buccholz misses bats; Buehrle does not. However, normally Buccholz is mercurial, while Buehrle is dependable. Not this year.
The Red Sox drew first blood in the game. Will Middlebrooks was hit by a two-strike pitch and Stephen Drew homered. Drew came to the plate 1-14 against lefties; he also had zero home runs this year. A couple of things here. First, Buchholz hasn’t given up more than 2 runs in any start this season. Second, the Jays continue to have problems with players who are struggling.
The Blue Jays ensured that a Boston offense that just scored a couple of runs go back to the plate very quickly. Generally, they don’t have much in the way of plate discipline and they don’t make pitchers work any harder than necessary. The adverse effects of this ‘strategy’ on their own team are numerous.
Munenori Kawasaki worked Buchholz for a one-out single in the bottom of the third inning. It came on the 8th pitch of the AB, meaning Kawasaki saw almost 20% (8 of 41) of the pitches that Buchholz threw to that point in the game. The Jays need to be much more patient at the plate. Several players (Rasmus, Arencibia, and Bonifacio especially) strike out a lot; most of the rest of the team doesn’t seem to have much off a plan when they approach the plate. Home runs are sexy, but they should rarely be the primary focus.
Unfortunately home runs are the bane of both the offense and the pitching staff. As I put this thought into words, Mike Napoli pounded a home run to deep center to make the score 3-0, followed by Daniel Nava’s long home run to left. Mark Buehrle has now given up 9 home runs on the season. Clay Buchholz, by contrast, has given up one home run this season. Last night the Jays refused to give up: they gutted out a 9-7 win. What will the Jays do tonight? A double play and another very good defensive play by Lawrie at 3B brought the inning to an end. Boston leads 4-0.
Jose Bautista started the bottom of the fourth well, drawing a five-pitch walk. This brings Edwin to the plate with a runner on and no one out. Regardless of the outcome of this particular AB, the Jays need to do this much more: have a plan, know who’s hot, and do whatever you can to get on base in front of him. They can then expand this to every AB, not just the ones in front off hot hitters. As it turns out, Edwin struck out on a 3-2 pitch. Again, more pitches were seen and Buchholz showed that he’s really not commanding the strike zone very well. Adam Lind swung at the fourth pitch of his AB, but it was a good pitch. Melky’s at bat wasn’t pretty: he swung at everything and hit a lazy fly ball to center. This is the Jays immediate response to Boston.
A quick half-inning by Buehrle was followed by an even quicker half-inning by Buchholz. TOR only saw 8 pitches to make three outs. Buchholz has re-discovered his groove; the Jays are in trouble.
David Ortiz began the 6th inning with a double high off the left field wall. The throw to 2B was a little late, but Izturis didn’t even put leather on it. In the early going, I swear Maicer Izturis is Chone Figgins 2.0. Napoli and Middlebrooks followed with a walk and a single to load the bases in front of Stephen Drew. Drew hit into a 4-6-3 DP to end the threat.
A comment has been made about the relative energy level of the Jays and the crowd tonight. It’s funny how flat everyone is after last night. The fans are just waiting for signs of life. The Jays grounded to 2B, popped out foul to 3B and struck out in the inning. It took fewer than 10 pitches. Quickly and quietly.
Surprisingly, Buehrle came out to pitch in the 7th inning. Despite his troubles and the score, I’d actually love to see Buehrle pitch a complete game: the ‘pen could use the rest, and someone needs to be allowed to finish a game. Unfortunately Gibbons isn’t listening. Kuroda and Sabathia worked through their problems. Buehrle looks ticked sitting on the bench. No wonder: he was replaced by Esmil Rogers, a marginal major leaguer with a decent fastball.
Rogers gave up a single to Pedroia and threw a wild pitch to Ortiz, scoring Gomes from third. Buehrle’s line is complete: 6.2 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 1 K. He threw 106 pitches. Rogers, predictably, threw gasoline on the fire. He walked Ortiz intentionally, then gave up a long three-run HR to Napoli. Izturis snared a hard line drive to end the inning. BOS leads 8-0.
The Blue Jays’ answer? They saw 13 pitches. This Jays’ squad has no heart, no professional pride, and their skill level is in serious doubt.
The balance of this game is merely academic, fulfilling stat lines and League rules. Is there a mercy rule in that rule book somewhere? Can the Jays’ season be ‘mercied’? If not, we will be subjected to an endless succession of Esmil Rogerses and Justin Germanos. Please stop the madness.
The positive impact of the dramatic 9-7 comeback win is lost in a haze of utter futility. The Jays are back to ‘normal’. Frankly, I’d be pleased if John Gibbons was fired. That won’t happen because of why he was re-hired: AA wanted him back because they have similar philosophies. If their philosophy leads them to believe that Esmil Rogers is more likely than Mark Buehrle to keep the game close, then perhaps they should both be shown the door together. The Blue Jays’ record has declined every season since Alex Anthopoulos became General Manager.