Yesterday’s 18-inning marathon left both teams weary. Edwin Encarnacion showed his fatigue at the plate in the later innings when he almost twisted himself into the ground fouling off a pitch. The two longest standing relievers in the game—Brad Lincoln and Ross Wolf—pitched 4 and 6.2 innings respectively. Ron Washington managed his ‘pen by leaving 3 relievers unused in the game. John Gibbons managed his ‘pen by using each reliever (7 of them) for an inning or less. Lincoln was the exception. He was optioned to Buffalo, not because he performed poorly but because the Jays need fresh arms. It seems as if Thad Weber is the fresh arm.
Today the Jays send Josh Johnson to the mound for his second start since returning from the DL. The Rangers counter with young pitcher Justin Grimm. Both teams are slumping offensively, with some obvious exceptions (Adam Lind; Jeff Baker), meaning we could be in for another pitcher’s duel.
Chasing the 1930 Phillies
The 1930 Phillies were also weary—weary of losing. Nine in a row is a lot of futility, but Ray Benge and the Phils’ offense and defense took care of that. No errors combined with a solid complete game start left the job up to the offense. Utility man Monk Sherlock didn’t play. In his place Don Hurst singled three times and stole two bases. Amazingly, none of the Phils scratched out an extra-base hit. Their 13 singles, 3 stolen bases, a sacrifice hit, and a hit batter (Chuck Klein) did the job. A late rally by the Pirates—single runs in the 8th and 9th innings—fell short, and the Phils won 6-4. Check the boxscore here.
Back to 2013. Both pitchers were sailing the first time through the order then the hitters began to catch up to them. It began with a 4-run 3rd inning for the Jays, highlighted by a 3-run homer by scorching hot Adam Lind.
Then the Rangers began to figure out Josh Johnson in the 4th inning, with a Nelson Cruz solo homer, a walk by David Murphy, and a run-scoring double by Chris McGuiness. Another walk to Leury Garcia was the 4th of the game for Johnson, but a ground out by Leonys Martin ended the inning. The walks are driving up Josh Johnson’s pitch count in a game that the Jays would like him to go into the 7th or 8th inning, if possible.
Josh Johnson’s day ended at 5 IP. He worked hard to get through 5 after a relatively easy first couple of innings. However, Johnson showed a good live fastball and a sharp curve. Let’s allow him to get back into fighting trim by not pushing him too hard, too early.
Josh Thole and Andy LaRoche started for the Jays today. LaRoche didn’t seen much action but Thole is a very different catcher from what we’ve seen in JP Arencibia. He’s very definite about location, he’s mobile behind the plate, and he doesn’t come up out of his crouch as readily. Sure enough, as soon as this is written Thole fired a ball into CF when Craig Gentry stole 2B. This allowed the Rangers to score a run, tying the game at 4.
A 7th inning solo home run by Adrian Beltre against Neal Wagner put the Rangers ahead by one. The Jays offense has been limited to a one-inning outburst, while the Rangers pecked away until they finally took the lead. The Jays have had other opportunities but didn’t capitalize. All 9 runs in the ball game have been scored with 2 outs in the inning.
Jose Bautista hit a rocket to the wall in left field for his 3rd hit of the game. The ball was hit so hard that he was limited to a single. Have you ever seen so many balls hit to the wall for singles as has happened lately? Edwin, Lind, and Jose have done it regularly. Edwin followed Jose with a walk, bringing Adam Lind to the plate. Lind grounded out to 1B to end the inning.
Dustin McGowan relieved Neal Wagner and David Murphy homered on the first pitch he saw. As the commentators are saying, Josh Johnson changed the complexion of this game by failing to go deeper than 5 innings. That ensured Perez, Wagner, and McGowan would be needed. Neither Perez nor Wagner were as sharp as they have been this season, while it’s McGowan’s 2nd major league game in 2.5 years. This made the score 6-4 for TEX.
The Jays made a game of it in the 9th inning with a walk and Kawasaki reaching on an error. Then Melky bunted the runners up a base, bringing the meat of the order to the plate with one out. Jose Bautista struck out on three pitches, one of them a questionable called strike. He was tossed for arguing. Edwin popped out on the infield to end the game.
Interestingly, the 3 pitchers that Ron Washington didn’t use in the marathon—Kyle McLellan, Tanner Scheppers, and Joe Nathan—shut down the Jays on a hit, 2 walks and an ROE in 2.1 IP. Three RP used by the Jays today—Juan Perez, Neal Wagner, and Dustin McGowan—all pitched in the marathon and gave up 4 hits, a walk, and 3 runs today. You’d think Ron Washington had experience in this stuff before today. This was an ugly loss for the Jays, but they won the series and there’s something to be said about that. Now it’s on to Chicago to play the White Sox.