Mission ’13, Game 77: Jays win 3-0

The Jays took the first two games of the series, leaving it up to RA Dickey to salvage game 3. The Rays, who are looking for the sweep and an opportunity to put a little more distance between themselves and the Jays, countered with Roberto Hernandez (Fausto Carmona!).

Chasing the 1930 Phillies

Game 77

PHI 28-49

TOR 39-38

Back up catcher Tony Rensa booted a couple more balls in game 77 for the 1930 Phillies, but it didn’t hurt as much. Starter Phil Collins had the invisible touch and the bottom of the Phillies order (including Collins) was 7-15 and scored 5 runs, as the Phillies double up the Cards 10-5. “Sunny” Jim Bottomley was 3-4 with 2 doubles and a triple to move his BA above .300, leaving only 3B Andy High (.281) and starter Flint Rhem (.067) below the .300 mark. Pnch hitter Showboat Fisher (.420) and RP Al Grabowski (1-2 on the day, .455 for the season) more than made up for it. Monk Sherlock had the day off. Check the boxscore here.

Munenori Kawasaki’s “I love you guys” statement in the interview didn’t make the situation any easier for us fans. Mark Buehrle’s comments weren’t helpful either, but the Jays optioned Kawasaki to AAA Buffalo when they re-instated Jose Reyes. It’s the right move.

Jose Reyes re-assumed his position at shortstop and at the top of the batting order. A ground out to 2B Ben Zobrist is how he started offensively, but it was in the bottom of the 1st inning that we really got to look at his defense. Lead off batter Desmond Jennings hit a ball to the hole in between short and 3B. Jose took a direct path to it, gloved it and made a very strong throw to Lind to get a very fast runner by half a step. It was a good start.

RA Dickey and Roberto Hernandez look terrific in this game. Dickey especially looks solid as he’s set down every batter he’s faced. The Jays drew first blood, as Jose Bautista led off the 4th inning with a flare into right center that Wil Myers missed on a diving attempt. Bautista came around to score on a ground out, then a single by Melky Cabrera. The temptation is to say that this might be all that RA needs but he hasn’t been consistent enough this season to arrive at a conclusion like that.

That said RA’s fast knuckler is in the 79-81 mph range today, which bodes well. Josh Thole does a very good job catching him and, as they get to know the AL together, he will offer more than Henry Blanco did in his brief stint with the Jays. RA allowed one ball out of the infield in his first time through the Rays’ order (a fly ball to CF by James Loney).

James Loney was the first Tampa player to get a hit, with a single in the 5th inning. Luke Scott popped out to deep 2B to end the inning. RA Dickey and Josh Thole have it all working today. As the staff ace, everyone looks to RA Dickey to stop losing streaks and start win streaks. Perhaps today is the day that RA begins to pitch with the consistency that he’s shown over the last 3 seasons. It’s important to note that Thole snared a hard knuckler with Loney on first. He set up outside, but the pitch darted so far inside that it almost hit Scott in the knee. Loney didn’t get a chance to advance because of Thole’s nice play.

Stat of the day: Buck and Tabby informed us that prior to Roberto Hernandez’s first start this season, the Rays had 1,207 consecutive starts made by homegrown pitchers. That’s almost 7.5 seasons worth of starts by pitchers they developed internally. Holy chicken. Andrew Friedman and Scott Boras do NOT have each other on speed dial.

Adam Lind homered to deep CF with 2 out in the top of the 6th inning to stretch the Jays lead to 2-0. That home run ended an 0-10 stretch for Lind. He scuffled a bit over the last few games before the Tampa series, too. He was 1-3 after hitting the home run, but was 5 for his previous 30 AB, stretching back to the start of the Colorado series. He’s 6-33 now, and 3 of those 6 hits were home runs.

Yunel Escobar singled into the hole at short for the Rays’ second hit of the game, but he was erased quickly on a 5-6-3 double play. RA continues to pitch well: he’s allowed 2 hits and no walks through 6 complete.

A quick (5 pitch!) bottom of the 8th by RA Dickey ended with Jose Reyes ranging into shallow left field to track down a low pop up. He looks great on what was a severely sprained ankle: his range is good, he’s running well (4 ground outs have required that he run, rather than jog as one might on a fly ball), and he’s stopping and starting effectively in the field.

Edwin Encarnacion put a chicken wing on the board with a long home run in the top of the 9th inning. This gave the Jays a 3-run cushion, pushing the score to 3-0 Jays. Jamey Wright relieved Roberto Hernandez with no one out and Adam Lind at the plate. Wow, what an at bat. Lind had one strike when Jamey Wright threw one inside. Lind tried to move out of the way but it not only hit Lind’s bat (strike 2), it also hit catcher Jose Lobaton in the face mask. The next pitch was a sweeping curve in the dirt that Lind swung at and missed (strike 3), but the ball hit Lobaton on the bounce and he was struck on the back of the helmet by Lind’s back swing. The tools of ignorance, indeed.

No one was warming in the ‘pen as RA took the hill in the 9th inning. The prevailing idea is that they’ll travel from Tampa to Boston for a 4-game set and that a fresh ‘pen is to their advantage. He threw 7 pitches to finish off the 9th inning, making 93 pitches for the game. He didn’t allow a runner to get to second base, and it’s the first CG for the Jays this year. He only threw 25 pitches for balls on the whole game (68 strikes). Apparently my earlier comment was justified: Melky’s run-scoring single was all RA Dickey needed today.

I’ve been as frustrated and disappointed with RA Dickey’s performance this season as anyone. There have been several good starts, but too many fair-to-poor starts for the expectation level coming into the season. He touched on some of the reasons in a post-game interview with Arash Madani. The new league and good hitters were among the top reasons given. Injuries haven’t helped his transition either.  Here’s to hoping that today was a turning point for RA Dickey and Josh Thole.

Wes Kepstro


2 Responses to “Mission ’13, Game 77: Jays win 3-0”

  1. 1 @ALEastbound June 26, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Well that was easy. I’ll take another couple of those from Dickey.

    • 2 Wes Kepstro June 26, 2013 at 3:22 pm

      I’d be happy if he could string together, say, 5-6 quality starts or better (I’m thinking 1-3 runs, 7-9 IP) before his next stinker. That would affect the confidence level of the entire team just as much as it would affect their fortunes. I think the performance of the rotation as a whole rests with him now. As he goes, so they will go.

      I checked it out just before I posted, but I was shocked to see how poorly he’d pitched with Thole as his catcher (e.g. 5 HR in 16.2 IP). I think once Thole gets a ‘feel’ for AL batters, he and RA could be very strong. After all, he caught RA all last year and last year was pretty successful…

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