Well, at least I got to see a game that was played at Yankee Stadium, though I’ve done that before. It’s a shame that it was close to a replay of a bunch of games that the Blue Jays played last season: Great pitching, crappy hitting with gusts to awful when it was most important.
There was a lot of good mixed in with the bad, but the standout fact is that the Jays got one hit in 12 at-bats with a runner in scoring position. If they had gotten maybe one more, which would have given them a .167 batting average under those conditions, they might have won the game. Of course, the Jays got one more hit with runners in scoring position than the Yankees did, but the Yankees won.
I’m not going to go nuts about the fact that Vernon Wells went 0-for-4. He worked counts nicely, which is new and exciting and bodes well, but it is troubling that well ahead in the count in his first at-bat, he tried to pull a fastball over the middle of the plate instead of looking to hit it where it was pitched, and pulled it foul. He’d been doing so well going to right-centre in the spring. And that fourth at-bat was ridiculous. To strike out looking on a curveball that started at his chin and was caught by Jorge Posada at Wells’ letters. Gary Darling should be ashamed of himself.
Nor am I going to get upset that Frank Thomas looked completely overmatched by Joba Chamberlain in the 8th. It’s troubling, but he’s been just this bad early in the last two seasons, and has rebounded to have very good years each time. Now, if he still looks this bad in two weeks, it’s time to take him out of such an important position in the line-up.
The good things about this game include the fact that the Jays scored all the runners who made it to third with less than two outs (one of the bad things is there were only two). Also, the Jays stole three bases and the Yankees failed in their one attempt. As well, this was a game that the Yankees needed breaks in to win, and not just those provided by the home plate umpire. They needed a 315-foot homerun, which is an out in any other ballpark in the majors, and they needed both David Eckstein and Aaron Hill to mess up on defense in the 7th inning. It’s a good thing when it’s the Yankees who need the Jays to screw up in order to win, as opposed to it being the other way around.
One thing I wanted to touch on before I go was tonight’s JaysTalk. It was especially raucous, and I’m not quite sure why. Good radio, though, I thought. I certainly didn’t go on intending to get into a couple of big arguments (but you know you can always get me going when you talk about how bunting in an incredibly wrong situation is a good idea), nor did I plan to quote John Lennon. I wasn’t sure how things were going to go, though I knew there would be alarm bells ringing if the Jays lost, and there were.
I went and did some research, by the way, and I found the resulting runs for every base situation in every major-league game played over a four-year period (1999-2002). This stuff is relatively easy to find when you look on the internet, which I understand is on computers now.
So, here we go: With a runner on second and none out – 1.189 runs. With a runner on third and one out – 0.983 runs. So even if your ill-advised “tie-game-in-the-7th” bunt is executed perfectly, moving the runner at the cost of an out, you have REDUCED the expectancy to score in that inning. Put that in your proverbial pipe and smoke it.
I know there are a lot of people who love to see bunts and who love to see runners trying to steal and guys hitting and running. I’m a big fan of the hit and run (providing the ball is hit), but my mind isn’t going to be changed on the other stuff, and the numbers (otherwise known as the facts) bear me out. A bunt in the American League is only a good idea in very specific, very rare situations. Stealing a base is a great thing, getting thrown out not so much, so you have to balance the two and only run when you have a very high percentage chance of being safe.
I should note that bunting for a hit is a good thing. I love that and I wish guys would do it more often.
Also – strikeouts are just outs. Same as a fly ball to medium-depth left field (unless there’s a runner on third). If a guy gets on base 38% of the time and strikes out 250 times, that’s fine by me.
Comments are encouraged, especially since there may be no JaysTalk after Wednesday’s game because of the Raptors conflict. Those of you in Toronto can hear the Jay game on 610CKTB.