11:25 PM Eastern
What are these things, when the guy in the Blue Jays uniform hits the ball with the bat and no one catches it? I mean, I’ve seen it a bunch of times this year, but there usually aren’t other people in Blue Jays uniforms scattered about the field when it happens. And these strange, crooked lines that get put up on the scoreboard when they do it. Weird.
For over two weeks now, there has been a big, fat “0″ in the Blue Jays’ first-inning runs column. Over two weeks! On June 7th, Alex Rios singled in Marco Scutaro’s first-inning double to tie the score 1-1 in the now-famous “A.J. Burnett wasn’t prepared mentally” game against Baltimore. Remember all that way back? They didn’t score in the first inning again until today. You have to go all the way back to May 24th to find the last time the Jays had scored more than once in the first inning – two days shy of a month! Brad Wilkerson hit a Grand Slam with two out against Luke Hochevar and the Royals. I usually don’t yell, but THIS WAS ONLY THE SECOND GAME ALL SEASON IN WHICH TWO DIFFERENT BLUE JAYS DROVE IN A RUN IN THE FIRST INNING!!!!!!!!! That’s just sick-making. The other time was April 9th against Oakland, by the way.
They got two runs today, from two different guys, and probably could have had more had Rios not gotten himself picked off third with one out and Lyle Overbay at the plate. Still, even with that blunder, the Jays managed to put up a total of eight runs and snapped the losing streak at seven, picking up their 5th win in June and their first for Cito Gaston v.2.0.
Vernon Wells contributed a couple of sacrifice flies – one to deepest left-centre (a homer in any other ballpark save Fenway Park and old Yankee Stadium) and another to right field. Both of them came on the first pitch. That’s not a surprise, Vernon’s M.O. has never been to get deep into counts, but dig this – Overbay’s 6th inning double, the two-out two-run blast off the centre-field wall that broke the 4-4 tie, also came on the first pitch. Stop and digest that for a second.
That one hit, more than anything else that has happened all season, lends a bit of credence to the idea that the hitters might just have screwed themselves into the ground trying to follow Gary Denbo’s lead.
I’m still not buying it completely – I can’t imagine that a group that has had so much collective success in the past wouldn’t realize that what they’re doing isn’t helping and go back to doing things the way they always used to. Too eager to please? Too smart? That’s what people used to say about John Olerud and Shawn Green when they were here under Cito Gaston v.1.0. I’m not convinced.
The argument could be made as well that the changes to the coaching staff may have caused a virtual team-wide exhalation, releasing the tension by figuratively wiping the slate clean. That wouldn’t explain the three runs in the first 21 innings thing, though. Still, it was fun to watch.
Also fun to watch was Adam Lind blasting a home run to almost straight-away centre, hitting a hard grounder through the 3-4 hole for a single and drawing a walk in four plate appearances. Welcome back. Twice as many hits today for the kid as he had in his entire first call-up this year. He’ll be in left pretty close to full-time, and hopefully will improve drastically on the .278 obp of a year ago. At least he can hit the ball out of the park.
It should be noted, before everyone gets too excited, that the Jays’ 8-run outburst came off two pitchers who are having spectacularly bad seasons in Ian Snell (165 baserunners in 85.2 IP) and Franquelis Osoria (81 baserunners in 50.1 IP) – ok, maybe Osoria hasn’t been SPECTACULARLY bad, but still awfully rough. Still, the Jays have faced crappy pitchers having awful years before, and haven’t hit them.
Confusing, like I said. Good thing we get another 85 games to watch!
I like the idea of using Scott Downs as a two-inning reliever, and so too does Cito, it seems. Of course, it means that he likely can’t be used on back-to-back days for that kind of work, which means more late-inning stints for Brian Wolfe or maybe Brandon League, who blew Gaston away with his stuff a couple of years back. Although, maybe Cito knew that with an off-day coming up, he could get away with using Downs for two. Crazy like a fox, that guy.
Dustin McGowan was unbespectacled (despectacled?) today, which leads me to believe that he feels he only needs the glasses to aid him with night vision as his diabetes affects his system. The lack of artificial vision aid didn’t help him in the 4th inning, when he gave up five straight singles to lead it off, allowing Pittsburgh to tie the game. Of course, he looked pretty bloody good the rest of the time, and looked great making that diving try on the Freddy Sanchez bunt in the 4th. Speaking of which – why the hell would you pinch-hit for your pitcher in the 4th inning and send the replacement up to bunt? Especially when that replacement is Freddy Sanchez, a year and a half removed from a batting title? Sanchez may be hurt, but if that’s the case, send a hitter up and wait until a better time when you need to get that bunt down, although he did pop up two bunts in that at-bat. Confusing.
Here’s today’s edition of The JaysTalk, by the way:
I’ll close by saying that I’m really not impressed with some of the commenters taking my saying that I’m not allowed to criticize Ernie Whitt to mean that I’m admitting that I’m a corporate shill. Do you really think that if they were going to tell me not to take shots at someone, that Ernie would be the guy? Again – NO ONE tells me what I can and can’t say on the air. I’m not going to tell the whole story, because I’m going to have to try to deal with Ernie at the World Baseball Festival in March, but last month there was a now-famous edition of The JaysTalk when someone actually suggested in all seriousness that Whitt should take over as the General Manager. There were about a dozen calls saying he should take over as the field manager (at least it felt like it), and I was pretty dismissive, but without getting personal or stating any of my reasons other than Ernie’s lack of experience as a manager. Whitt decided to confront me about it the next day, and based on the manner in which he spoke to me and the language that he used, I decided it wasn’t worth the headache to discuss him on the air anymore. I believe he again revealed himself in today’s Toronto Sun, with his quote that he believes he’s the best manager the Blue Jays have never hired. This is a guy who has never had a full-time gig managing professionals, at any level other than the odd week-long tournament.
Comments are encouraged, as always. The 24/7 JaysTalk includes off-days!