Well, here it is. The big, bad AL East is threatening to spoil the Blue Jays’ fun. The Jays ‘welcomed’ the Baltimore Orioles into town, and the Orioles represent the first intra-divisional test for the all-of-a-sudden pretty good Jays. This is an important stretch for the Jays, as they play 10 straight (BAL, BOS, TBR) against their own division. They’re playing better than they were when they were racking up intra-divisional games. Here’s to hoping that the improvements aren’t merely a mirage. This will be a good test. If more improvement is needed, they still have almost 80 games after this stretch to make them.
Chasing the 1930 Phillies
The 1930 Phillies won a couple against the New York Giants and perhaps teased their fans into thinking that things might turn around a little. Well, the Giants took care of that little glimmer of hope in game 72. Philly tallied 16 hits; the Giants pounded out 26 hits. Philly scored 8 runs; the Giants scored 19. Philly made 5 errors; the Giants made 1. 5 errors—4 by Tommy Thevenow and Fresco Thompson—led to 5 unearned runs, as the Phillies gave up 14 runs in the first 3 innings. Monk Sherlock and the Phillies tried desperately to dig themselves out, scoring 8 runs in the last 4 innings, but the hole was too deep. The hapless—with the glove and on the mound—Phillies lost big to the Giants. Check the boxscore here.
Adam Lind is pretty hot with the bat, and has been for about 3 weeks now. He put the Jays ahead with a 2-run homer in the first inning, scoring an Edwin Encarnacion bloop double ahead of him.
The problem is that RA Dickey, when he’s not sharp, gives up a lot of home runs. JJ Hardy answered Lind’s blast with a solo home run in the top of the 2nd inning, to cut the Jays lead in half.
Both pitchers then settled in for a couple innings until the Jays manufactured a run to extend their lead to 3-1. All of the runs scored to this point n the game were scored with 2 outs.
The problem for the Jays is that the Orioles decided to bring Adam Jones and Chris Davis with them when they made the trip to Toronto. Jones came to te plate in the 6th with 2 runners on base and singled to left to score one of them, then Davis homered to give the O’s a 5-3 lead. One is not so naïve as to think that RA Dickey was capable of holding the O’s to one run for the game, but one also believes very strongly that the Jays and, by extension, Dickey and Thole, realize that Chris Davis is torrid lately and has a well-documented ability to change games. He does it a lot against the Jays, with 24 RBI against them since the start of last season.
Edwin followed with a chicken wing of his own in the bottom of the 6th as the Jays re-couped one of the runs to make the score 5-4 Orioles. However, Dickey gave it right back in the top of the 7th inning as Ryan Flaherty homered to deep right field to lead off the inning. A walk to Danny Valencia brought RA Dickey’s night to an end.
Brett Cecil appeared in relief. The Jays are in a hole, and the ‘pen needs to hold the Orioles at bay. Stat of the night: after retiring the first 2 batters he faced, Brett Cecil hasn’t given up a hit to 40 straight batters. He’s recorded 37 outs and given up 3 walks, 2 of which were IBB. Punctuating his overall effectiveness, he picked off Danny Valencia. RA Dickey should buy him dinner for not allowing the inherited runner to score.
Tommy Hunter relieved Jason Hammel, who’s enjoyed as much success in the ‘pen as Brett Cecil. That trade with the Texas Rangers looks pretty good for the Orioles now, as the O’s picked up Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter in exchange for Koji Uehara. Uehara pitches for the Red Sox now, having not led the Rangers to a World Series title. Of course, almost as soon as I put it in writing, Munenori Kawasaki homered to tie the game. That’s right, MUNENORI KAWASAKI. The Rog went nuts, the dugout went nuts, my wife went nuts, and Mune bowed to everyone after circling the bases. This is the kind of thing that wins playoff series and keeps win streaks going. I don’t know if the Jays will capitalize, but they’ve given notice: they won’t go quietly. A Jose Bautista strikeout ended the inning. Bautista has 9 hits, 4 BB, and 15 SO since going 0-7 against San Diego in the 18 inning game, a 9-77 (.117) stretch.
Brett Cecil retired the side in order in the top of the 8th inning. This allowed him to run his no-hit streak to 43 consecutive hitters, the equivalent of 1 game + 4.1 IP. The only pitcher to throw back-to-back no hitters in MLB history was Johnny Vander Meer of the Cincinnati Reds back in 1938. The ‘Dutch Master’ faced 63 batters in his no-hitters against Boston (NL) and Brooklyn in 1938. As was typical of the day, he struck out 11 but also walked 11. Interestingly, in the 3 previous games and the 1 game after his 2 ho-hitters Vander Meer gave up 5, 5, 3, and 4 hits in 37 IP (4 CG). He gave up 4 earned runs on 17 hits in 55 innings over those 6 games (0.65 ERA; 2.78 H/9; .096 Opp BA). Not bad for a 23 year old lefty in his 2nd full season.
Can you believe it? Munenori came to bat with runners on first and second in the bottom of the ninth, with a chance to win the game. It would have been pandemonium if he’d driven in the winning run. He didn’t but he did the next best thing, advancing the runners. Rajai, who pinch-ran for Melky in the 7th singled to left field to run the Jays’ win streak to 9 games. Hands up if your first or second thought was, ‘well, they can’t get swept now’.
The Jays picked up a poor start by RA Dickey for the first time this season. Previously, they lost every start that he’d made when giving up 5 or more runs. Not this time. The Jays are a different team, and the 9 straight wins are the most obvious demonstration of that fact. Re: the 10 games versus the AL East, it’s one down, nine to go.
PS: John Gibbons is a career .5oo manager again…