12:45 PM Eastern
A crazy road trip wrapped up with a crazy game, and the Blue Jays headed home a .500 club, almost unimaginable given how the trip started.
The Chicken Littles were out in full force just a week ago after the trip started with Vernon Wells breaking his wrist in an eventual 6-1 loss in Cleveland and the Jays going 30 innings without scoring a run after Wells came out of that first game.
While I have never been a member of the “sky is falling, season is over” contigent, I did feel that had the Jays lost that last game in Cleveland, and done so without scoring a run, that would have been it for John Gibbons’ tenure with the club, fair or not (and it wouldn’t have been fair). But after the offensive struggles reached the point of utter hilarity in the ninth inning of the nightcap at The Prog, the Jays scored three in the 10th and really haven’t looked back since. They’ve won six of seven, they’re scoring runs, they’ve climbed out of last place and hit the break-even mark, and things are looking swell as they come home for a week’s stay against the Angels and Royals.
Even yesterday’s road trip finale summed up just how much the worm has turned for this club over the course of the last week. Down 3-0 after four innings a week ago was a death sentence, even more so in a get-away day game that had already been delayed two hours by rain, but they managed to come back. Not only did they come back, but the comeback rally started with two out and nobody on! The Captain doubled, Marco Scutaro worked a walk, and then that power-free first baseman who doesn’t deserve to play because he doesn’t hit home runs came off the bench and hit a mammoth shot to deep right to tie the game.
The Jays took the lead in the next inning thanks mostly to doubles by the revitalized Aaron Hill and Shannon Stewart, and managed to hold onto the lead thanks to their ace, Roy Halladay, who played the part of the cavalry.
As the story goes, during the second rain delay Gibbons walked past Halladay and Doc pointed to his cleats. Gibbons told him that he wasn’t going to send Halladay in to pinch-run at any point, and Halladay then pointed to the bullpen. Cool story, very John Wayney – without a word, Harry Leroy Halladay III tells his skipper that he’ll win him a ballgame.
Whether or not that’s the way it really happened, Halladay did go out and win the Jays a ballgame. Because of the first rain-out, Shaun Marcum lasted just one inning, so by the time the rains hit a second time, Shawn Camp, Brian Tallet, Jason Frasor and Jesse Carlson had all been used, which left just Armando Benitez, B.J. Ryan and Snakeface, who had thrown an inning and a third the night before. Carlson could probably have come back out, because the second delay was only 39 minutes long, but lefty-masher Pat Burrell was at the plate with the tying run on first.
So out rode Halladay on his white horse to pop up Burrell and face the minimum through his 2 1/3 innings of relief, handing the same two-run lead to Ryan that he had been given. It was a tremendous performance by a tremendous pitcher, and Halladay should be lauded for being willing to do it and then for going out and getting the job done. It’s a difficult thing to do, as we saw from A.J. Burnett back in the 14th inning of the Texas game, but that’s why Halladay is who he is.
Ryan came in to close it out and finally gave up a run for the first time this season, when Pat Burrell took him deep with two out on the 10th pitch of the at-bat. Ryan couldn’t put away Chris Coste either and had a hard time with Eric Bruntlett before striking him out on an 8th pitch to finally end the game. The off-day comes at a perfect time for everyone, with the all-hands-on-deck relief work and The Beej working on a second straight day and flagging a bit. Still, though, Ryan is 9-for-9 in his save opportunities and has only given up the one run all season.
The day off allows the Jays a great opportunity to re-jig the entire starting rotation, because theoretically any of Halladay, Marcum or Dustin McGowan could start tomorrow. If it were up to me, I’d go Marcum Tuesday, Halladay Wednesday (because Halladay threw more than Marcum did yesterday), A.J. Burnett on his regular day Thursday and then fill it out with McGowan and Jesse Litsch. Marcum and Halladay are the best the Jays have, and I want them out there at every possible opportunity.
That’s the way I would do it, but that’s not the way the Jays will. McGowan is going to get the start tomorrow on his normal 5th day and Marcum will slot in on Wednesday. Halladay, for some strange reason, is being pushed back all the way to Friday. That means he’ll get the full four days off after having thrown just 23 pitches yesterday, which boggles the mind.
We had a long rain-delay show, and Jerry Howarth was kind enough to hop on for nearly an hour and take calls, but The JaysTalk was abbreviated so that we could get the network to the Yankees loss in time for the first pitch. Here’s the abbreviated JaysTalk for your listening pleasure:
Comments are welcome, as always, hope you’re enjoying the long weekend!