Mission ’13, Game 68: Jays win 7-2

The Jays took the first three games of the series and had the opportunity to sweep the Rangers in Texas in a four-game series for the first time in 36 years. Chien-ming Wang has the unenviable task of keeping the modest win streak going against Rangers’ lefty Derek Holland.

Chasing the 1930 Phillies

Game 68

PHI 25-41

TOR 32-36

The 1930 Phillies got off to a good start in the ‘nightcap’ against the Giants but a team with that much talent is difficult to keep down, especially with a pitching staff as weak as the Phillies had. Everyone except Mel Ott had a hit in the game—Master Melvin did get a walk, though—and 3 errors by the Phillies outfield sealed the deal in game 68. Monk Sherlock didn’t start but came in as a pinch hitter late in the game, when the Phils were in comeback mode. The Phils lost their fifth in a row, falling to the Giants 6-2.  Check the boxscore here.

A 2-run homer by JP Arencibia was a little unexpected, given the overall situation, but welcome nonetheless. It scored Rajai Davis and the Jays took a 2-0 lead early in the game.

Chien-ming Wang put on a few base runners in the first couple of inning, but was able to make a good pitch or two to strike out a batter or induce the ground ball.

Colby Rasmus contributed to the cause in the 4th inning as he led off with a home run off the right field foul pole. The Jays put a couple more runners on base afterwards—one on a double by JP Arencibia—but Derek Holland and the Rangers’ defense shut the door to stay close. The Jays led 3-0.

A pair of singles to open the bottom of the 4th inning put Chien-ming Wang in a tough position. No problem. Third baseman Edwin Encarnacion’s diving catch on a sharp liner by Nelson Cruz took care of the second out and a long running catch on a twisting fly ball by Melky Cabrera kept the Rangers off the board.

It’s time to take a peek at the defense. The Jays’ defense has improved. It’s not great improvement, but it’s noticeable on the field and by the numbers. There a fewer multi-error games, fewer brain cramps, and the players—notably middle infielders, Munenori Kawasaki and Emilio Bonifacio—know each other better. All of these factors have contributed to a slight climb in their performance relative to the AL and their previous efforts. Here is the Jays’ defense by the numbers:

Innings

BIZ

Plays

RZR

ARM

DPR

RngR

ErrR

UZR

UZR/150

Total

5538

969

806

.832

5.1

-1.4

-4.5

-4.0

-4.9

0.8

Rank

5

3

2

9

3

11

10

13

10

8

May Rank

6

3

3

10

4

12

13

13

12

9

Apr Rank

3

6

8

14

4

10

14

14

13

13

This info was stuck to the fridge at: http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=fld&lg=al&qual=0&type=1&season=2013&month=0&season1=2013&ind=0&team=0,ts&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=22,d

  • The Jays’ weaknesses are pretty clear: double plays, range, errors, and UZR;
  • The positive note about these weaknesses are that the team continues to improve, even though it’s been in small increments;
  • The number of plays they’re making, RZR, and UZR/150 have improved noticeably;
  • the Jays are holding steady everywhere else (Inn; BIZ; ARM).

A lead off double by Melky Cabrera in the 7th inning spelled the end of the day for Derek Holland. Holland wasn’t as sharp as we’re accustomed to seeing, but he battled and kept th Rangers close. Jose Bautista greeted reliever Kyle McClellan with a bloop single into left-center field that scored Emilio Bonifacio, who pinch ran for Melky. McClellan then walked Edwin on 4 pitches, which brought the red hot Adam Lind to the plate. All game long, Buck and Tabby spoke about how Lind is just shy of the requisite number of at bats to qualify for thee batting lead in the AL. As I write this, Adam Lind stroked a 3-run home run to right-center field. Holy chicken. When is the last time that a Blue Jay hitter was this hot for this long? The Jays pushed their lead 7-0.

Chien-ming Wang was relieved after 7 quality innings, and he indeed seems to be the lightning in a bottle that Alex Anthopoulos was hoping to catch. Wang is doing for the Jays pretty much exactly what Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon have done for a couple of seasons. It’s only been a couple of starts, so ‘caution’ is the watchword when we consider his impact.

Juan Perez pitched a couple of innings in his first appearance in several games. An infield single, a pair of walks, and an error by Mark DeRosa led to a run. Neil Wagner relieved Perez and gave up another walk to plate another run before inducing a bases loaded fly ball out to the wall in left field.

The Jays allowed 4 runs in this series against the Rangers in Texas. The entire pitching staff pitched very well against a team that’s struggling, but usually has Toronto’s number. The offense was excellent for the series, continually applying pressure to the Rangers’ offense to keep pace.

The Jays have 4 good lefties in the ‘pen and are using 8 relievers. This leaves it open to speculation. If the Jays’ starters continue to improve, they make a move for a position player and cut the ‘pen back to 7 pitchers?

Additionally, Buck and Tabby openly hoped for a 6-1 or 5-2 road trip. Owing to the weather-postponed finale against the White Sox, the Jays have taken them seriously: today’s win made the Jays 5-1 on the road trip. This was a good win—both game and series—for the Jays. They face the Colorado Rockies, sans Troy Tulowitzki (broken rib), at The Rog starting tomorrow.

Wes Kepstro

 

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