Josh Johnson got the call today as the Jays faced an old nemesis in Freddy Garcia. Perhaps the pitching match-up took a back seat to the Bautista-O’Day tension and the win streak. All of this just adds dimensions to a good intra-divisional rivalry. Johnson looks to continue his effective starts. Freddy Garcia may be just what the doctor ordered to extend the win streak.
Chasing the 1930 Phillies
Game 74 for the 1930 Phillies was about pitching and defense. In the 1930s much of what pitchers did was about ‘containment’. The helium-inflated balls, poor fielding, and hitter’s ballparks made it easier to score runs and harder to prevent them. Also, pitchers didn’t strike out as many batters, preferring to walk them when the situation called for it. Monk Sherlock played 2B again and went 2-4 and scored a run, but was one of 3 Phillies to make an error. SS Tommy Thevenow and RP Hal Elliot also made errors. The 3 miscues led to 7 unearned runs for the Reds in a 9-5 Reds’ win. Reds’ starter Larry Benton pitched poorly, scattering 9 hits and only striking out one, but he didn’t walk anyone and limited the damage. It was also a pretty good strategy to wait for the Phillies to kick it around a little, because that’s one thing they did well in 1930. Check the boxscore here.
The Blue Jays jumped out to an early lead—again. A single run in the first inning scored on a rally that began with a broken-bat hit by Edwin Encarnacion. A single, walk, and hit batter later, the Jays led 1-0.
The second inning saw the Jays score a run National-League style. Bonifacio singled, stole a base, was moved along by a Munenori bunt, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Melky Cabrera. Then the Jays scored in a more conventional manner. A walk by Bautista came around to score on a long home run by Edwin Encarnacion, pushing their lead to 4-0.
Josh Johnson struggled a little bit in his first couple of innings, giving up 3 hits and a walk and making 41 pitches. He settled in for the 3rd inning, retiring the O’s in order on 9 pitches.
The Jays knocked out starter Freddy Garcia in their half of the 3rd inning. A single by JP Arencibia came around to score on a long double into the right-center alley by Maicer Izturis. Izturis, in turn, came around to score on a double by Emilio Bonifacio that rattled around in the right field corner. TJ McFarland relieved Garcia and induced a ground out to JJ Hardy by Munenori Kawasaki. Bonifacio scored on a Melky Cabrera single off the pitcher’s mound into center field, making the score 7-0 Jays. A double into the right-center alley by Edwin—I called it, ask my wife—scored Melky and Bautista, who had walked. By the end of the 3rd inning, Edwin was only a triple short of the cycle and drove in 4 runs. The Jays stretched their lead to 9-0.
Josh Johnson came out in the 4th and retired the side in order on a couple of lazy fly balls and a liner to Bonifacio at second. This is one of the aspects of the pitching staff that has improved lately: when the team scores runs, the pitchers are getting them back out there quickly.
Josh Johnson threw 41 pitches in his first 2 innings, but only 23 in his next 2 innings. When he struck out Nate McLouth to end the top of the 5th, he’d retired 11 straight and only needed 12 pitches to do it. He’s in a groove and the Jays have a nine-run lead.
Similarly, TJ McFarland has settled in a little. He set down the Jays in order in the 4th inning and also in the 5th inning.
Josh Johnson hit a speed bump in the top of the 6th inning as Machado and Markakis opened the inning with back-to-back doubles. As Jack Morris mentioned, Johnson sort of fell in love with his fastball, and the Orioles are too good a team to feed them a steady diet of heaters. A ground out by Adam Jones moved the runner to 3B but led to a couple of discussions between the umpire, the runner, and Buck Showalter. An error by Bonifacio brought the runner home from third base before Johnson buckled down and induced a lazy fly ball and struck out JJ Hardy. The Orioles cut the Jays lead to 9-2.
TJ McFarland did exactly what I praised the Jays’ staff for doing: getting the hitters back up to bat quickly after a productive inning. Chris Dickerson hit a lead off single to right and was followed by Ryan Flaherty, who homered. The Orioles trimmed the lead to five with none out in the 6th inning. Aaron Loup came on in relief. Loup allowed a single by Machado, but erased him on a double play to end the inning. The Jays led 9-4.
Colby Rasmus took back one of those runs forcibly, as he homered to right off lefty McFarland. The next play was strange as JP hit a ball down the 3B line which Manny Machado fielded cleanly. The umpire signaled fair ball immediately and his voice was audible, but Machado didn’t even attempt a throw to first. Apparently he expected a ‘foul’ call and didn’t know what to do when he didn’t get it. JPA was safe at first on one of the strangest infield singles you’ll ever see. Arencibia advanced to 3B on a double by Maicer Izturis before McFarland recorded a pair of outs and was relieved by Pedro Strop. Rajai Davis, who singled off Strop to win game 1 of the series, pinch hit for Melky Cabrera with runners on second and third. Strop hit Rajai right in between the ones on his number 11 jersey to load the bases for Jose Bautista. Bautista then lined a double to the right-center alley to clear the bases and extend the lead to 13-4. Edwin grounded out to short to end the inning, just after hitting a long, loud fly ball just left of the foul pole.
Is this a turnaround game for Jose Bautista? He and RP Darren O’Day started a little feud in game 1. O’Day made a comment after striking out Bautista, to which Bautista took exception. When game 2 was on the line, Showalter brought in O’Day to pitch and Bautista homered. He said a few words to O’Day as he rounded third and O’Day responded in kind. Today, Jose was 0-1 after his first plate appearance but it was his second plate appearance that made it look like things were turning. He walked. That’s it, that’s all. Then he walked in his third plate appearance. Then he doubled to the right-center alley in his 4th plate appearance. He’s hit several homers in this cold stretch, but mostly because he’s a dead-red fastball hitter and pitcher like to throw fastballs. Other than that he wasn’t striking the ball with authority very often. Thee walks tell me that he’s seeing the ball well and has a good idea of the strike zone. The double tells me that he’s able to put it all—the strike zone concept, the knowledge, and the swing—in a nice, tidy package with a bow on it.
Juan Perez pitched just about the ugliest scoreless inning in Blue Jay history. Adam Jones and Chris Davis singled to start the inning, and switch hitter Matt Wieters came to the plate. He hit a ball past the bag at 3B, which Maicer fielded and turned into a double play. A passed ball by JPA advanced Davis to 3B before Perez induced a ground ball out to 3B by JJ Hardy.
Dustin McGowan came in to relieve Perez in the top of the 9th inning and struck out Dickerson but gave up a solo home run to Ryan Flaherty. It was his third HR of the series. Let’s put it this way: if the Jays keep Markakis, Jones, and Davis quiet and someone like Flaherty gets a lot of hits, the chances of sweeping Baltimore increase dramatically. A McLouth ground out and a Machado strike out brought this one to a close.
The Jays are winning in every conceivable way at this point. At times they’ve pitched well, hit well, fielded well, and run the bases well. At times they’ve put it all together in the same game (game 2 vs TEX). Sometimes the bombers carry he load, while at other times the Smurfs make the difference. Whatever the case, this team is playing as expected. Next up is Tampa Bay in Tampa, where the Jays have trouble winning. It’s another opportunity for this team to show that they are for real and they aren’t going away any time soon. They’ve won 11 straight and counting.