1:00 AM Eastern
This one’s going to be short and sweet, because I have to get up really early in the morning to run my sim league auction, sorry about that. I’ll let you know who I land tomorrow night, I have a few targets in mind, but might not get any of them.
So the Blue Jays fly out of town at 2:00 AM after a disheartening 12-inning loss, get to their hotel rooms at about 5:00 AM local time (6:00 Toronto time), and then go out and pound the Rangers in the series opener.
The struggling offense managed 13 hits, but only two for extra bases. They made up for it, though, by taking advantage of the suddenly weak-armed Gerald Laird (that was different – good advancing by the Jays, though), and steal four bases, and they watched the Rangers trip all over themselves on the field.
It’s pretty obvious, to anyone who reads or listens to me, that I don’t like the sacrifice bunt. Actually, that might be a little conservative. I detest the sacrifice bunt. But a lot of people have taken that stance to mean that I also don’t like the stolen base, and nothing could be further than the truth. Like the phobic who isn’t afraid of flying, but crashing, I love the stolen base, but I hate the caught stealing. When the opportunity presents itself wherein the odds of a successful steal are greatly in your favour, you have to run, and it’s great to see that the Blue Jays are doing that this season.
Last year, there were dozens of times when the opposition was all but handing Toronto baserunners an extra 90 feet, and they would say “thanks, but no thanks.” The threat of the possibility of the consideration of a stolen base wasn’t even there. Now, all is different. They nabbed four bags tonight, and twice Laird threw the ball past his middle infielders into centre, allowing the runner to advance to third. Another time, on the Coats-Zaun double steal, Laird short-hopped it to second, and the bounce away allowed Zaun to score without a problem. I’m really hoping the Jays keep this up, but that they don’t get overzealous about it like they did in the second game of the season.
Nice to see Vernon Wells do some damage in his hometown, it’s something that hasn’t happened a lot (on the baseball field, at least, I know nothing of his personal life). He hit two absolute ropes tonight – one for the RBI double in the 4th on which Frank Catalanotto almost made a spectacular running catch – and he took advantage of some I-got-it-you-take-it between Ben Broussard and Kazuo Fukumori to pick up a third hit.
Jesse Carlson looked great again. He’s certainly showing the Jays’ brass that he can help them. He’s going back down to AAA in a week, more than likely, but he’s leaving an impression, at least.
People will debate whether the appearance of Scott “SnakeFace” Downs to pick up the save was a vote of non-confidence in Jeremy Accardo. Notwithstanding the fact that if the vote of non-confidence were to pass, the Governor-General would be forced to dissolve the Blue Jays’ bullpen and they’d have to go to Spring Training again, I think it probably was.
Accardo did some great things last season, and some great things the first week of this season, as well, but he seems obviously to have lost either the feel for or his confidence in his splitter, which served him so well in picking up most of his 30 saves last season. Until he’s comfortable bringing that weapon back, he shouldn’t be the automatic option at the end of every game. With a switch-hitter at the plate and two lefties to follow, Downs was the right guy, and thanks to his newly-shaven head and fierce tattoo, he was able to intimidate two batters into getting out, and thereby pick up the save.
This unsettled bullpen situation is likely to only last a week, because B.J. Ryan should be back that soon.
One last thing before I go – if Buck Coats is going to be a reliable defensive replacement for Shannon Stewart or Matt Stairs in the outfield, he’s got to learn to call off his infielders when they’re sprinting back to try to catch a pop-up whether they call it or not, and whether or not they’re former World Series MVPs. The fact that he let Eckstein try to make the catch on Milton Bradley’s pop-up in the 7th is pretty much inexcusable. There was no way Eckstein had a better chance of making the play than Coats, and rookie new guy or otherwise, he has to get the shortstop the Eck out of there and make that catch. Both Stewart and Stairs make that play.
Comments are encouraged, as always, but I probably won’t be able to answer them tomorrow. The auction is going to go from 9:30 AM until I have to leave to get to the radio station for the pre-game. I’ll try to find some time somewhere, though.