The Blue Jays looked to even the series at a win apiece tonight, as they sent Josh Johnson to the hill. An effective start by Johnson would go a long way to continuing his adjustment to the American League. The Red Sox countered with Allen Webster, whom they acquired in the blockbuster trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers last August. Webster has been an injury replacement for the Red Sox who’s had trouble getting major league hitters out with regularity.
Chasing the 1930 Phillies
The 1930 Phillies didn’t match up very well against anyone but the Cincinnati Reds, except in game 79. Both teams scored 6 runs by the 4th inning, but the Reds pulled away with 7 runs late in the game. Three homers and four doubles by the Reds, combined with 3 errors by Monk Sherlock and the Phillies led to a 13-run outburst as the Reds overwhelmed Chet Nichols and four relievers. Check the boxscore here.
The Jays are in pretty tough against the Red Sox. Early in the game the Red Sox took a 3-0 lead, forcing the Jays to play catch-up once again. The Red Sox extended their lead to 5-0 and Josh Johnson’s night was over after 3.1 IP and 90 pitches. Providentially for Johnson, he was removed from the game and relieved by Aaron Loup. Loup, brought in before the 5th inning for the second consecutive night because of an ineffective starter, recorded an out, then had the benefit of an interference call against Shane Victorino. The Red Sox lead 5-0.
I’m unclear about Johnson’s value as a starter. He’s injury prone, but we knew that. A pitcher can be effective before and after an injury. What I was unprepared for was his passivity on the mound, a low 90s fastball, and his inability to get major league players out. It’s no wonder he’s getting knocked around like a pinata at a 7-year old’s birthday party. I doubt very much whether he will contribute meaningfully to any success the Jays might experience this season.
This raises a twofold problem, though. Morrow and Happ are both out for the foreseeable future, and the Jays don’t have the depth to replace 3 starters. Johnson either needs to improve dramatically, which is unlikely, or he needs to be replaced. Looking ahead, can you see the Jays pursuing him when the season’s finished? Neither can I.
Johnson’s mound opponent, Allen Webster, entered the game with an 11.25 ERA but he cruised through the first 4 innings. The Jays seem tense at the plate—who wouldn’t be, when facing another deficit or 5 or more runs—and Salty and Webster took advantage. There are two things in the Jays’ favour, thoough. They’re playing in Fenway, where the Red Sox have been giving up cheap runs since 1912, and the Red Sox ‘pen is near the bottom of the AL in effectiveness.
The Jays answered the two runs by the Red Sox with three of their own in the top of the 5th inning. A single and a walk set up Jose Reyes, who hit into a fielder’s choice. Jose Bautista followed with a single, as did Encarnacion and Lind before Allen Webster got out of the inning.
Rajai led off the 6th inning with a single, and stole second as soon as JP Arencibia allowed him to do so. Arencibia then grounded out to 2B with a 2-strike count, advancing Rajai to 3B. A sac fly to deep RF by Maicer Izturis brought home Rajai to make the score 5-4 for the Red Sox.
Neil Wagner was summoned with one out in the bottom of the 6th inning. Aaron Loup pitched very well again, needing only 23 pitches to pitch 2 complete innings of 2-hit ball.
Andrew Bailey relieved Allen Webster and gave up a long chicken wing to dead center field by Edwin Encarnacion. It’s 420′ to the triangle just to the right of center field, and that wall is about 18′ high. That was a long, high homer by Edwin to tie the game at 5.
Neil Wagner didn’t record an out in the 7th and was relieved by Brett Cecil with runners on first and second. Cecil’s first assignment was David Ortiz. Big Papi’s dangerous but he’s cooled off considerably and he doesn’t hit well against Cecil. Cecil buckled his knees and struck him out with the yellow hammer. It didn’t get easier, as Mike Napoli followed Ortiz and walked to load the bases. Pinch hitter Jonny Gomes singled into left field to give the Red Sox a one-run lead.
Cecil gave way to Darren Oliver, ostensibly to save Cecil’s arm. The run given up by the Jays’ ‘pen was only the 4th relinquished by the ‘pen in their last 47 IP. The Jays and their fans couldn’t ask or expect anything more from the bullpen.
Oliver walked Saltalamacchia to force in another run. Brandon Snyder, who replaced Stephen Drew (right hamstring tightness), struck out for the 2nd out of the inning. Jose Iglesias, who reached 50 hits faster than any other rookie since 1958 when they began to keep rookie records (118 AB), grounded out to Jose Reyes for the third out.
It’s a shame that the Jays ‘pen gave up runs in a tie game. The offense needed to find another way to claw back into the game. A double play grounder by JP Arencibia brought the 8th inning to a close.
Pitching and defense betrayed the Blue Jays in this one. Colby Rasmus for instance, who has been as dependable as any CF in MLB, made two errors. The pitching—both the starters and the relievers—was poor in this game. The rotation is an ongoing problem for the Jays, and will prevent them from getting much above the .500 mark. As they stand right now, this pitching staff is ‘good’ enough to maintain a pattern of win 1, lose 2, win 3, lose 2, but no better than that.
Teams like Boston who have terrific offense, will abuse this Blue Jays’ pitching staff regularly. Mark Buehrle and Esmil Rogers are slated to pitch games 3 and 4 of this series. I fully expect the Jays to get swept. It’s too bad the Jays aren’t good enough to take advantage: the Red Sox were 8-8 since ace Clay Buchholz went on the DL. They really wasted another opportunity.
**Wes will be out of the office for the next couple of weeks. This will happen a few times during the summer as we take advantage of the good weather and the opportunities presented to us. We’ll catch up with you and the Jays when we return. Enjoy a safe and happy Canada Day (long) weekend, everybody.