Melky’s May Meter
Melky continues to tear the cover off the ball this month. He has 25 hits in 17 games and is about half-way to the 51 hits has raked last May for the Giants. May has been a good month so far for the Melk-ster; he’s emerged from the offensive doldrums he experienced in April.
The Jays played poorly in New York but received a weather-related respite and didn’t have to face CC Sabathia trying to salvage game 3 of that series. However the Tampa Bay Rays are on the playlist, and the Jays traditionally match up poorly against Maddon’s Rays. It’s RA Dickey against Jake Odorizzi, the young pitcher that Tampa picked up from Kansas City in the James Shields deal.
The Jays’ offense took advantage of a couple of early opportunities, leading 3-1 after a Brett Lawrie triple, but the Rays came right back to knot the game at 3 runs each. That’s the way it would stay for a few innings.
The way things have gone for the Jays this year, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the next team that scores will win and the next team that scores will probably be the other guys. Today it wasn’t the other guys. Things have been a little weird, not only for the Jays but for other teams as well. Last year the Rays’ ‘pen pitched to the tune of a 2.88 ERA, thanks in large part to Fernando Rodney’s career year. This year the ‘pen had a 4.78 ERA. The Jays were beneficiaries of the less-effective ‘pen in Tampa Bay just a few games ago, as the ‘pen coughed up leads in successive games, allowing the Jays to split the 4-game series.
Today it was Josh Lueke. Lueke was just called up from AAA Durham, and was brought in to face the bottom of the Jays’ line-up. Three walks later, Edwin Encarnacion made him pay the piper. He doubled to drive in all three base runners and the Jays led 6-3. A Kawasaki triple drove in Henry Blanco from first base to round out the Jays’ scoring. Make it 7-3 Blue Jays.
Strangely, the game wasn’t over, as Casey Janssen was called on to pitch the ninth inning. It’s been a little more than a week since Casey’s last appearance, so a little rust would be understandable. Given his customary efficiency, that means maybe a walk and a hit. Not so. A single and a 2-run home run by Yunel Escobar made the score 7-5 Jays. Then a single by Brandon Jennings and Matt Joyce’s 3rd walk of the day set up a confrontation with Ben Zobrist. Janssen didn’t need to be told who followed Ben Zobrist in the Rays’ line-up. A 3-pitch strikeout ended the Rays’ uprising, and the Jays scuffled away with a not-so-pretty 7-5 win.
RA Dickey pitched very well again and, like Melky, seems to be emerging from his first-month blues. The Nashville native has pitched better of late but the Jays, their fans, and RA himself expect more. Today he delivered. He pitched eight innings of 4-hit ball, and gave up 3 runs—2 earned—while walking 3 and striking out 5. The walks (3) and passed balls (1) are going to be a staple of RA Dickey starts. We Blue Jays’ fans need to realize and accept that.
The other side of that coin is Henry Blanco. Typically White Hank has been an automatic out, but today he was on base three times (2B, 2 BB) and scored twice. I don’t think his offense is the issue anyways. Comments are being made regularly about his influence in the dugout, as well as his rapport with the pitchers—RA Dickey in particular—and JP Arencibia. If there’s one thing the Jays have lacked in recent years, it’s good quality leadership. This year they have several of them, and it’s one of the few pleasant surprises early in the season.
No matter how you slice it, taking game 1 from the Rays is good. The Knashville Knuckler did his thing, and the defense and offense followed suit. Even Emilio Bonifacio’s getting on base regularly.Good win.