Melky’s May Meter
RA Dickey vs. David Price seems to offer us one extreme or the other: it’ll be a well-pitched game or it will be a high-scoring affair. This is only the third time since the Cy Young Award was given to pitchers in each league that reigning CYA winners have faced one another during the next season. One hopes for better results from these guys..
David Price did his part. He set down the Jays 1-2-3 with 2 Ks in the top of the first inning. Perhaps this will be the former scenario: well-pitched and low-scoring.
Back-to-back doubles by Kelly Johnson and Evan Longoria, followed by a walk to James Loney and a run-scoring single by Matt Joyce staked the Rays to a 2-run lead in the bottom of the first inning.
The Jays answered with a run in the top of the second and two in the the top of the third inning to take th4 lead, 3-2. Then again, maybe one of the end-of-the-rainbow scenarios won’t happen at all. Buck and Tabby have mentioned Price’s velocity regularly in the game, and it seems to be down. He averaged 95 mph with his fastball last season and it’s topped out at something like 94 mph tonight. Price tried to muscle one of those fastballs past Jose Bautista on an 0-2 count but was disappointed: Jose ripped it past Kelly Johnson to the wall in left. Two of the Jays’ runs were unearned as Longoria made a throwing error on a sharply hit ground ball by Rajai Davis. It’s nice to see him give back a couple of runs. He and KJ have been outstanding in the series.
Speaking of Longoria, he strode to the plate immediately after a one-out hit by Ben Zobrist. There was no error on the play but Colby Rasmus clearly misread the ball. Zobrist hustled all the way and ended up on 3B. Longoria swung at the first pitch and scalded it to 3B, where Lawrie made a very good play to record the out. It’s a big out, as Longoria didn’t do any damage for the Rays. The big out is lost, however, as a Henry Blanco passed ball has plated the run, tying the game at 3. You can have an intellectual grasp of how difficult it is to catch a knuckleball, but it’s obvious when there is a runner on 3B. Three IP, three unearned runs in this game.
A walk by Rasmus and a single by Maicer Izturis preceded a foul ball hitting Rays’ catcher Jose Molina on an unprotected part of the knee. Molina went down hard and was clearly in agony. The tools of ignorance, indeed. A hit-and-run by the Jays with two strikes on Blanco resulted in a strike-him-out, throw-him-out DP. Izturis was out by 15 feet, and Molina has been fairly easy to run on for the last few years.
Rajai Davis is going to make up for Izturis. He followed a humpback liner to right-centre with a steal of second and third base, to put a runner on 3B with no one out. Melky struck out—apparently he doesn’t know about Melky’s May Meter. A long fly ball to CF by Jose Bautista has brought Rajai home, making the score 4-3 Jays. Price only needed 8 pitches to retire the side, but Rajai’s single and two stolen bases have put Toronto in the lead.
RA Dickey is clearly exasperated, and he has reason to be. Last June he shut down these very same Rays, throwing 106 pitches (101 knucklers) and striking out 12 in a CG. He followed that outing with a one-hitter against BAL. This year has been a different story. With the new catcher(s) to break in, the new team, and the new league, he’s frustrated. This game is no different. Even as I write this, Buck and Tabby were speculating that Desmond Jennings was going to run, but he didn’t need to: Dickey balked him to 2B. His facial expressions, mannerisms, and demeanor demonstrate clearly that he’s very frustrated. Following the balk, he walked Zobrist to bring Longoria to the plate with runners on the corners. He moved toward the dugout after throwing an excellent 2-2 pitch to Longoria, only to have it called a ball. Longoria popped up to Lawrie to end the inning, and RA’s first move was to walk to the home plate umpire to discuss the strike zone. The umpire didn’t look impressed. Despite his struggles, the Jays still lead 4-3.
Mark DeRosa sees his pitcher struggling so he’s all business, singling to Cf to open the 6th inning. Brett Lawrie didn’t seem to notice as he swung at and flied out on the first pitch to him. He seems to want Dickey back out there ASAP. The Jays went down in order after DeRosa’s single to start the inning.
Despite a BB to begin the inning, RA Dickey induced three straight pop-ups, one of which was dropped (in foul ground) by Henry Blanco, and then struck out Jose Molina to end the inning. Dickey has bounced back a little in the game. Here’s hoping that he’s left in for at least another inning.
White Hank dropped the pop up, but hit a sharp single into CF to start the Blue Jays off in the seventh. Rajai’s hard-hit liner was gloved by Longoria at 3B: each third baseman has ‘stolen’ a base hit from a player tonight. Melky’s fielders’ choice grounder means he’s unlikely to get a hit tonight. Bautista’s high chopper to Longoria turned into another fielders’ choice, as they head into the bottom of the inning.
Ugh. RA Dickey has been relieved after six complete innings. I like Steve Delabar but I don’t like seeing a pitch count applied woodenly to a knuckle ball pitcher. Yunel Escobar homered against Delabar to tie the game at four. Is every former Blue Jay going to enjoy success against this team? Incredible. Yunel’s HR boosted his slash line to .182/.236/.303 for the season. For the record, the 3 batters due up this inning were 2-7, R, BB against Dickey tonight. (Ex-Blue Jays have combined to hit 8 HR against TOR this season.)
The Jays went quickly and quietly in the top of the eighth inning. Edwin flied out to deep LCF, DeRosa struck out and Lawrie hit a lazy fly ball to RCF. I don’t have a good feeling about this game. David Price, despite his struggles, has now pitched eight complete, giving up 7 hits and a walk. The Jays haven’t capitalized since the early innings and Price is getting stronger.
Evan Longoria singled to open the bottom of the eighth, making him 8-16 in the series. Darren Oliver came in to pitch with 3 straight lefties due to hit. Delabar faced 5 batters, giving up a home run and a single. James Loney, the AL’s leading hitter, bunted Longoria into scoring position. Pinch hitter and ex-Jay Ryan Roberts flied out but Luke Scott singled to RF. A good throw by Bautista to the plate kept the game tied at 4.
Fernando Rodney is on to pitch the ninth for the Rays; Rodney was ineffective in game one, throwing 37 pitches and giving up JP Arencibia’s 2-run HR. Rasmus struck out on 3 pitches. I pegged him for a 0-4, 3 K night; he’s 1-4, 3 Ks. Izturis grounded to 2B on the second pitch he saw and JPA, pinch hitting for Blanco, was hit on the right hand (he needs to catch in the bottom of the ninth). Rajai followed the HBP with a single, but Melky K’ed on a 100 mph fastball.
A couple of strike outs and a lazy fly ball to CF by Darren Oliver have done the trick. The Jays and Rays are headed to extra innings. Both teams sport 1-2 records in extras. In the top of the 10th Jose Bautista grounded out on the first pitch from Kyle Farnsworth. Bautista’s been a top slugger over the last few years but he’s not a particularly intelligent hitter. Edwin popped up to short and Munenori Kawasaki was thrown out on a bunt attempt.
Staying away from Evan Longoria means pitching on the black. A double by the Rays’ 3B put a runner in scoring position; Loup walked Loney intentionally. Brad Lincoln came in to face Ryan Roberts with two outs and runners on first and second. Roberts walked to load the bases. Luke Scott walked to win the game. A series that began with such promise ends the way this season has gone: disappointingly.