Buck and Tabby mused about the Jays needing to have a “good road trip…going five and two, or six and one” to start turning around the season. Both records are still possibilities but last night’s loss wasn’t the way anyone wanted the road trip to start. Tonight, newcomer Chien-ming Wang starts for the Jays. He’s the 743rd starter the Jays have used this season, and if you listen very closely, some will say that this (i.e. ‘too many injuries’) is a big reason why the Jays are stumbling. Never mind the shoddy defense. Never mind the poor pitching by healthy starters. Never mind the poor situational and fundamentally-unsound offense. It’s the injuries. Last year it was a rational explanation; this year it’s a flimsy excuse. Alex Anthopoulos said maybe the Jays can ‘catch lightning in a bottle’ with Wang. 64 games in, and it’s come to that.
Chasing the 1930 Phillies
The 1930 Phillies played the Boston Braves in the nightcap of their double header. They won the opener but lost game 2 to settle for a split. The Braves had 2 future Hall of Famers in their line up. Rabbit Maranville—one of the all-time great defensive shortstops—and George Sisler, who was in the final year of his great career. Sisler is one of 35 players to hit .400 for a season. Conversely, Wally Berger was in the midst of one of the great rookie campaigns of all-time. Ray Benge threw a complete game 13-hitter for the Phils, giving up 9 runs (!). Again O’Doul, Klein, and Monk Sherlock provided most of the offense, but Benge gave up 4 runs in the last 2 innings in a 9-7 loss. Errors by Thevenow and O’Doul didn’t help matters. Check the boxscore here.
The White Sox were about half way through the line up when they began to figure out that Wang throws 2 pitches. Another home run by Adam Dunn cut a 2-run lead in half. I actually laughed to myself when I saw Dunn in the line up against Dickey. Dunn now has 3 home runs in the series.
In the 4th Chien-ming Wang joined the rank and file of the Jays’ pitching staff. A run-scoring single by Dayan Viciedo preceded a 3-run homer by Conor Gillaspie, making the score 5-2 White Sox.
The Jays’ offense did what they could to keep up with their own pitching staff. A 2-run homer by Edwin in the 5th inning and a solo homer by Jose Bautista in the top of the 9th inning knotted the score at 5 in exciting fashion. It was Bautista’s 3rd homer of the series.
Another (very) bright spot was the pitching of Brett Cecil. He was the subject of a piece we wrote not long ago, where we mused about his continuing effectiveness. The source of this musing was his workload—which has been heavy—and a somewhat-disconcerting drop in velocity. This is no chicken-and-egg scenario: his dramatically-increased velocity has led to uber-effective appearances. He’s now pitching more regularly in higher-leverage situations, as was the case tonight. He relieved Wang in the 8th inning and wound up pitching 1.2 innings of scoreless relief. He faced 5 batters, threw 12 pitches (10 for strikes), striking out 2, while walking none. He lowered his ERA to 1.59.
A single by Rajai Davis, a stolen base, a sac fly by Adam Lind, and a wild pitch gave the Blue Jays a 6-5 lead in the 10th inning. A 2-out single by Maicer Izturis and a long double into the left field corner by Munenori Kawasaki led to another run fr the Jays. The throw by De Aza was good, as was the relay by Alexei Ramirez (who dropped the throw to 2nd base when Rajai stole the base), but Flowers dropped the ball at the plate when ther l’il Hulkster, Maicer Izturis, jarred the ball loose. Izturis would have been out by 15 feet. The White Sox defense has been as shoddy in this series as the Jays defense usually is. The Jays lead 7-5, and Casey Janssen is on to pitch.
In their half of the 10th inning, a single by Alex Rios and a walk to Paul Konerko brought Adam Dunn to the plate with 2 out. Dunn homered in his only career plate appearance against Casey Janssen, and he has homered 3 times in the series already. Janssen induced a ground ball to short on a 3-2 pitch.
It’s difficult not to sympathize with the Jays’ braintrust: they are, in fact, facing some pretty serious injury problems. They’ve put 12 different starters on the mound, but there are other teams that are facing similar, if not greater, difficulties. That makes it sound like an excuse when people use it to describe the Jays situation. Their pitching troubles are much deeper than injuries.