The start of this game marks the first time the Jays take the field as a .500 team this season. It doesn’t seem like much but it’s better than being a .323 team, which they were earlier this season (10-21). The Jays’ quiet starter, Chien-ming Wang, took the hill against the Orioles’ surprisingly consistent starter, Miguel Gonzalez. The streak began in Chien-ming Wang’s first start as a Blue Jay.
Chasing the 1930 Phillies
The 1930 Phillies were still licking their wounds from being humbled by the Giants in game 72. Cincinnati rolled into town on a 4-game win streak and added to their total by beating the Phillies in the Baker Bowl. Monk Sherlock switched to 2B, which solidified the middle infield but Hap Collard couldn’t keep the Reds off the board late in the game. Unlike the Giants’ stacked line up only two Hall of Famers played for the Reds in this one, including Harry Heilmann who was playing his final season in MLB. The other Cooperstown-bound player was a light-hitting, fast-talking middle infielder. He was present when Bobby Thompson hit “the shot heard ’round the world” to complete an improbable comeback, and when Willie Mays caught the 440-foot drive in CF off the bat of Vic Wertz. He was Leo “The Lip” Durocher, one of MLB’s great managers. Check the boxscore here.
A wild pitch scored Melky Cabrera in the bottom of the first shortly after Adam Lind singled. Wang made this hold up until a one-out single by Travis Ishikawa scored Chris Davis. Other than that the starters dominated the game.
Maicer Izturis continued his ascent to respectability with a home run in th bottom of the 5th inning to restore the Jays one-run lead. The surprise, however, came with the next batter. Munenori strode to the plate after his game-tying heroics last night and pounded a ball to deep right field. It had home run distance, but was a few feet foul. I haven’t done the math, but I expect that very few long strikes have electrified The Rog as much as that one did. He walked, but was doubled off first on a line drive.
The Jays cruised through a couple of innings on the strength of ground ball after ground ball induced by starter Chien-ming Wang. Chris Davis was due up, so Manager Gibbons turned to Aaron Loup out of the ‘pen. Unfortunately that resulted in a weak backfire, as Loup plunked Davis on the hip. Gibby then turned to Neil Wagner, who cleaned up the small mess. The Jays didn’t score in their part of the 7th inning.
Darren Oliver relieved Wagner to open the 8th inning and promptly surrendered the lead, as Taylor Teagarden (is that name for real?) homered to deep left field. Believe it or not, it was Teagarden’s 2nd career homer against Oliver. A tough ground ball by Nate McLouth eluded Edwin at first, but he was erased by JP Arencibia as McLouth attempted to steal second. Oliver then retired Machado to end the inning.
The Jays have a little more work to do if they want to extend their win streak to double digits. Miguel Gonzalez has only yielded two hits into the bottom o the 8th inning, that is, until Munenori Kawasaki came to the plate. Kawasaki singled up the middle with one out to put the Jays into gear. A fielder’s choice by Rajai exchanged Rajai for Mune with Jose Bautista coming to the plate. A gritty at bat by Jose Bautista against Darren O’Day worked the count to 3-2, then side-armer O’Day threw a fastball knee-high on the inner half, and Bautista deposited it into the left field tunnel for a 4-2 lead. Bautista has 3 hits against O’Day in his career, and they’re all home runs. The Jays re-took the lead, 4-2.
Casey Janssen relieved Darren Oliver in the top of the 9th inning, looking for his 17th save of the season. He faced Markakis, Jones, and Davis and, as Buck Martinez mentioned, it’s nice to have a 2-run lead. Markakis popped out to shallow CF, Jones struck out (ending his personal 17-game hit streak against the Jays), and Chris Davis struck out on 4 pitches to end the game.
The Jays have won 10 in a row, and they’ve done it in impressive fashion. They’ve beaten good teams (TEX, COL, BAL), they’ve hit game-winning home runs (Bautista x2), walk off singles (Rajai), they’ve won at home and on the road, and they’ve done it with several surprising individual heroes (Chien-ming Wang, Izturis, Munenori, Rogers).
But really, this streak is about the Jays coming together as a team. The final piece to fall into place has been the starting pitching, after the offense and defense pulled up its socks. Coming together as as team isn’t only about the different facets of the team pulling together either, it’s about the individuals AND the groups picking up each other. RA pitches poorly, and the defense and offense do enough to win. The defense makes a couple errors, and the pitching and offense do the job. Bautista struggles and Munenori homers. Miguel Gonzalez pitches a two hitter for 7+ innings and Bautista homers. The Jays are a team, and they’re going to be a tough one to beat for the rest of the season.