3:00 AM Eastern
Every other time B.J. Ryan has ever pitched with a runner on base, that’s when.
Sorry for the late post, to those who have been waiting. I had to sweep a Fat Elvis series when I got home. By the way, I have David Eckstein and John McDonald both on my team, too, and McDonald gets the 8th and 9th, at least, when I have a lead.
Anyway, it’s almost fitting that in order to escape this terrible road trip on a good note, the Jays had to win the same game twice, but that’s exactly what happened when second-base umpire Bruce Dreckman decided that Ryan didn’t come to a complete stop before delivering an 0-1 pitch to Covelli Crisp that the Red Sox’ centrefielder popped to shallow right for the game’s final out.
That’s cool, a pitcher has to come to a complete and discernable stop before he delivers a pitch, and Ryan barely stops at the top of his delivery. There’s reason to believe that it’s a balk. But the thing is, it had only been called on him once in his entire career prior to tonight, eight years ago. Also, after the balk call, Ryan threw eight more pitches, all with the EXACT SAME MOTION, and none of those were called balks. It defies logic. If you’re going to call a balk on Ryan, call it every time until he gets to the point where he actually makes a noticeable stop once he comes set.
When John Gibbons came out of the dugout to argue with Dreckman, the first words out of his mouth were, “Why now?” A balk had never been called on Ryan any time that Gibby had ever seen him pitch, and his delivery hasn’t changed since day one with the Jays, at least (I didn’t pay all that much attention to him before). Gibbons was absolutely right, and had to get thrown out of the game there. It’s rare that an umpire actually takes away a win once the game has ended.
Again, I have no quarrel with Dreckman if he thinks Ryan is balking. The call came on the second pitch that Ryan delivered with a runner on base, so it’s fair to think that after the first pitch, someone called Dreckman’s attention to the fact that Ryan appeared to be balking, so he looked more closely and called the balk on the next pitch. If that’s what happened, though, where were the balk calls on the next eight pitches? Again – Ryan never changed his motion. It’s mind-bottling.
It got scary for a while there, too, after Crisp wound up singling to bring the tying run to the plate, but Ryan struck out Jed Lowrie, and the Jays got to celebrate again. Amazingly, after a terrible, horrible, no good, really bad 2-7 road trip, the Blue Jays will come home just 4 1/2 games out of first place in the A.L. East – only one game farther back than they were when they left.
A.J. Burnett was terrific in this game, taking a three-hit shutout two outs into the 8th inning before giving way to Jesse Carlson. Burnett took advantage of a struggling Red Sox offense by not giving them a sniff. Even with the five walks, A.J. seemed as though he wavered only once. In the 4th inning, working with a 1-0 lead and therefore, no margin for error, the Sox had runners on the corners with one out when Brandon Moss ripped a line drive up the middle. Aaron Hill charged hard to his right, dove, and at the fullest extension of his dive, snared the liner, then casually walked over to second base to complete the double play. That was the only time Burnett needed serious help from his defense.
Apologies to those of you who refuse to give credit to Burnett for anything positive that he does, but he was great tonight. And hey, that’s two wins in a row for him! I thought that couldn’t happen.
The best of the anti-Burnetters was the last caller to The JaysTalk tonight, who said that all Burnett did was beat a Red Sox team that can’t hit at all right now. That’s not an unacceptable position to hold, considering that Boston has scored just four runs in its last five games. Thing is, when I asked him if Roy Halladay had simply gotten lucky, running into a cold Boston squad in his complete-game loss on Tuesday, he said no, that Doc dominated them, and pitched great. Truth is, he did. So did Dustin McGowan yesterday, and so did A.J. tonight. Sorry, folks, he’s a good pitcher. The only thing I’ll quibble with for this game is that he walked Kevin Cash twice. Honestly, how do you do that?
Scott Rolen continued to live up to his billing as the Best Blue Jay Ever even though he failed to notch an extra-base hit for the first time in his career as a Jay. Instead, he singled in the game’s first run, giving the Jays their first lead of the series, then dropped his elbow into a Wakefield knuckler in the 5th and wound up scoring on a sac fly by Vernon Wells to make it 2-0.
Alex Rios should have had his second four-hit night in four games, with two singles, a solo shot into the monster seats, and a line drive to deep left that Manny Ramirez ran down and caught with a leap as he was running towards the wall. I swear, Ramirez has made the two best catches of his life this season, and both have come against the Blue Jays. Still, it’s kind of karmic that Rios would be robbed of a potential fourth hit, since he didn’t exactly earn the fourth one last time, the pop up that fell in between Esteban German and Tony Pena, Jr. in K.C.
Even though the road trip ended on a good note, I have to point out two unfortunate things:
1. The Jays were 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position tonight. For the nine-game trip, they were 7-for-65 for a sparkling .108 batting average.
2. What on Earth was David Eckstein thinking in the 5th inning? After his leadoff flare double to right, he tagged up from second on Matt Stairs’ fly ball that hit about 30 FEET UP THE WALL! Once it hit, he took off, but had to be held at third. Rolen, never imagining a scenario in which Eckstein would fail to score on that ball, wound up at third too, and the Sox executed the pickle play to nail Eckstein. Why would you tag up on that ball? Did Eckstein forget where he was playing? It’s strange to criticize him for a mistake of that sort, because Eck is a guy who makes his living always making the smart play, always doing the right thing, never being caught unaware. But holy schnykies, that’s a tough play to misread.
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