Mission ’13, Game 31: Mariners win 8-1

RA Dickey faced Hisashi Iwakuma in today’s tilt; both pitchers have pitched well stretching back into last season. It’s the Jays’ offense that needs to get going. A bases loaded, two-out situation with less than two outs resulted in zero runs for the Jays. Perhaps predictably, the two Jays who came to bat with the bases loaded—Colby Rasmus and Rajai Davis—saw seven pitches while striking out to end the inning.

The Mariners have little problem scoring against this Jays’ staff. Four runs in game one will keep you in or win most games. Today, the home run is again the nemesis. A first inning lead-off home run by Michael Saunders and a grand slam by underachieving Dustin Ackley have put this one out of reach early for the Jays. It’s 5-0 M’s, and the Jays have demonstrated consistently that their offense is incapable of coming back very frequently. One thing that I’d like to see is RA Dickey go the distance: there’s no need to go to the ‘pen.

Michael Saunders stroked his second homer of the game, then when Dickey struck out Kendrys Morales something happened that I’ve never seen before: the Jays threw the ball around the horn. That I’ve seen before, but never with 3 out. The only player that started to run for the bench was Kawasaki, but even he backed into his position (ostensibly believing that HE was the one who was mistaken). Most of the players on the field lost track of how many outs there were in the inning. That’s amazing.

The Jays went quickly and quietly in the bottom of the inning: Iwakuma has found a groove. The Jays didn’t/couldn’t take advantage of two situations in the first three innings when they had runners in scoring position and Iwakuma, being a good pitcher, adjusted accordingly.

In the top of the sixth a triple by Raul Ibanez was plated by Kelly Shoppach. The boo birds began to voice their displeasure. RA Dickey has given up 8 home runs on the season, but 5 of those have come in his last two starts. I don’t think he’s pitched well enough for long enough this season to warrant going into a slump. Fans are impatient with the intolerably poor play by the Jays this season.

The Jays have played poorly in every way possible, but there are other things that are irksome. They play with no discernible passion. I don’t think anyone misses the childish tantrums from Romero or Cecil, but a Paul O’Neill juice-cooler-smashing by one of the seasoned veterans might be in line. Also, every time a player is interviewed they mention how good things are in the clubhouse and how no one is panicking. Really? Historical perspective suggests they should be (Dave Cameron at http://www.fangraphs.com wrote a terrific piece about this very topic).

My wish to see RA Dickey finish the game won’t be realized. He reached the 100-pitch mark and was pulled in favour of Brad Lincoln. Lincoln’s as good a pitcher to bring in as anybody, but that’s hardly the issue. The starters aren’t being allowed to work out any struggles they have. The score is 7-0, why not let Dickey hone his craft? The other aspect of the pitch count that I find bothersome is that it seems to be applied woodenly to every starter. This fails to take into account several factors, like pitching style and injury history. It’s superficially understandable for guys like Morrow and Johnson, but pitchers like Buehrle aren’t injury prone and would benefit from the work. RA Dickey throws a knuckleball and would probably benefit from extra work (it’s a cinch that the catchers would benefit). JA Happ is the #5, and inconsistency is almost a hallmark of the back end of the rotation, so it’s less of a factor. The ‘pen would benefit from days off: they haven’t had one yet, except when the team doesn’t play.

A rousing ovation—far out of proportion with the situation—was given by the crowd when a shallow fly ball to center by Kawasaki brought home Rajai Davis. It made the score 7-1, and marked the first time since Lawrie hit a lead-off HR vs. Ryan Dempster in game 3 of the Boston series that the Jays scored a run. If you’re counting, the Jays went 24.2 innings between runs scored and were outscored 24-3 in that time. Poor pitching + poor hitting + poor defense = poor performance.

Michael Saunders doubled to center, driving in Robert Andino with two out in the top of the ninth to make the score 8-1 Mariners. Michael Saunders joins Will Middlebrooks and Mike Napoli as players who’ve enjoyed very big games against the Jays this season. The Jays’ run differential at home this season is -40 (59 RS, 99 RA). Home, sweet home it ain’t.

Fittingly, the Jays put two runners on base in the bottom of the ninth and didn’t score either of them. Interestingly, Gregg Zaun maintains that none of the blame rests on Chad Mottola for their offensive woes. Given his reasoning I’m inclined to agree with him, though I wonder if his line of logic extends to Pete Walker and John Gibbons. I expect it does. That said, I honestly didn’t believe they’d miss Brian Butterfield as much as they seem to, either. “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot…”

Tomorrow the Jays hope to avoid the sweep. As it is, their record stands at a dismal 10-21.

Wes Kepstro

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