The Jays moved into the Hub to play the big, bad Boston Red Sox in a 4-game set. Many would tell you that this series is crucial. Don’t believe them. If there’s anything that we can learn (again) about baseball, it’s that the season is very long. The Jays were 10-21 on May 4 and have gone 29-17 since. I can’t remember the number of times I heard and read “this series is crucial…if the Jays don’t win at least [x] games…”. Yet, despite losing many of those early series, the Jays are right in the thick of things. Now don’t get me wrong: I want them to sweep the Red Sox in the same manner that they swept Texas (+20 run differential) but if they don’t it’s not the end of the world.
Chasing the 1930 Phillies
Game 78 for the 1930 Phillies pitted Eppa Rixey against Ray Benge in a rematch of the second game of their double header the previous Saturday. Rixey pitched the Reds to victory that afternoon, but hit them to victory in this game. This one was ugly for both sides with a capital Ugh. Rixey had two hits and scored three runs as the Reds won 14-9, but the story was Tommy Thevenow and Ray Benge. Thevenow made two more errors to give him 30 on the season. Benge faced 44 batters in 8 IP, giving up 16 hits and 14 runs (9 ER) and had 3 errors committed but only one DP turned behind him. Hopefully manager Burt Shotton slipped him a sawbuck after the game for saving the pitching staff. Check the boxscore here.
There were a couple of noteworthy things about the first inning. Jose Reyes walked to lead off the game, getting on base for the first time since his return. In the bottom of the inning Starter Chien-ming Wang induced 3 ground outs, meaning his sinker is working early. The real noteworthy incident was Jose Reyes ranging to grab a grounder by Pedroia and throwing him out from behind 2B.
Jon Lester’s command wasn’t Lester-like but he seemed to be fighting a winning battle, setting the Blue Jays down in order after Reyes’ walk.
The Red Sox had Wang’s number in the bottom of the 2nd inning. Back-to-back walks and a couple of hits had the Red Sox up 2-0 with no one out. Stephen Drew hit a long drive to right field that Jose Bautista overran. His cramp scored one, leaving runners on second and third. Jose Iglesias hit a high-chopper for an infield hit, scoring another run. Jacoby Ellsbury singled up the middle to score the fifth run of the inning with no one out. Aaron Loup was warming up in the ‘pen. Shane Victorino helped out by grounding into a double play on a 3-1 count. Dustin Pedroia followed that with a 2-run homer into the net over the Green Monster. This one is over early, as the Red Sox lead 7-0 after 2 innings.
This is the flip side of what we can expect from Esmil Rogers and Chien-ming Wang. It’s nice to have a few good starts from unexpected sources, but there’s a reason that it’s unexpected. We still have no idea what to expect on a game-to-game basis from these two. Both started reasonably well, but both have been hammered in their starts this week. The Jays’ rotation is still a fetid, stinking morass of under-achievement. RA Dickey has one good start, then a bad one. Mark Buehrle has been anything but consistent. Brandon Morrow is Brandon Morrow: his hallmark is inconsistency, then getting injured. Chien-ming Wang and Esmil Rogers are largely unknown quantities. Josh Johnson has been underwhelming: hittable, injury-prone, and he doesn’t have an off-speed pitch.
Melky got the Jays’ first hit of the game with one out in the top of the 5th inning, and was followed by a Rajai single and a Maicer Izturis double that scored both runners. Jose Bautista popped out to end the inning
The Jays put up a two-spot in the 8th on the strength of base hits by Rajai and Izturis and a walk to Bonifacio. A sac fly by Jose Reyes brought home the third run and a ground out by Jose Bautista brought home the fourth run for the Jays. Boston led 7-4.
Koji Uehara relieved Junichi Tazawa to start the 9th inning. Uehara is the closer for the Red Sox, with Hanrahan out for the season and Andrew Bailey completely ineffective. Adam Lind pinch hit for Mark DeRosa and grounded out. Melky and JP Arencibia followed with strike outs to end the game.
It’s an inauspicious way to start a series against the divisional rival who leads the division. Toronto has now lost 3 of 4 since inning 11 in a row. Chien-ming Wang got three easy ground ball outs in the first inning, then didn’t get out off the second inning before Boston had scored 7 times. Bautista’s gaffe in right field, although not an error, was a contributing factor. This loss, coming against a struggling Jon Lester, makes it difficult to expect them to win the series. Let’s hope the Jays can pull themselves together and do the unexpected.