Melky May Meter
Melky’s found his hitting shoes, just in time to face his old mates with the Giants. Melky’s not the only one, though. Since our last recap the Jays have started to make some noise offensively, helping them to take two out of three from the suddenly-reeling Red Sox.
It’s not just the number of hits that’s impressive, it’s the at bats and the obvious plan at the plate. They’re seeing more pitches, hitting the ball to all fields, and they’ve modified the all-or-nothing approach that plagued them for the first few weeks of the season. Make no mistake, though: as well as the Jays are playing lately—and they are, indeed, playing well—they have their work cut out for them. Their 4-3 road trip which, in itself, is impressive (.571 ball works out to about a 92 or 93 win season), would give them about 85 wins if they were to play that well for the rest of the season. They’ve dug themselves into a deep hole with very few players playing either well or consistently.
Okay, let’s not belabour the early season difficulties. RA Dickey pitched very well tonight, complementing the barrage of hits. Part of me wonders, though, at the timing of this good effort: it’s the first time that he’s faced a National League opponent. His line for the night was more than solid: 6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 10 K. Maybe the Jays just need to tell him that every opponent is a National league team, or a National League wannabe. At any rate, we’ll take it.
In the second inning he ran into a little trouble. A full count ground out followed by two walks led to a trip to the mound by Henry Blanco. I don’t know what they talked about (pizza after the game? the Leafs? good investment strategies?), but White Hank began positioning himself in the middle of the plate, and Dickey benefited greatly. His knuckler was sharper and caught more of the plate more often. There were other changes in strategy (first-pitch fastballs to patient hitters like Marco Scutaro), but the catcher’s positioning was pivotal.
Dickey was relieved by Brett Cecil, who continues to impress. He, of course, is one of the few players who has played both well and consistently early in Mission ’13. The heavy ball program he used in the off-season has paid handsome dividends already with increased velocity, a sharper curve ball, and the pleasing intangible: greater confidence. This is the first time in several years that Brett Cecil looks as if he thinks he’s capable of getting big league hitters out regularly. He’s a different pitcher; he’s a better pitcher.
The Jays played well again, the only exception being Brad Lincoln, and have now won six of their last nine games against good quality teams. This is a little stretch upon which they can build.
**Note: Munenori Kawasaki entered the game as a pinch runner in thee sixth after Adam Lind singled. One of the first things he did was bow to 1B umpire Tom Hallion. Whether we agree or disagree with Kawasaki’s religious beliefs, the respect he has is something the Jays need to emulate.