7:45 PM Eastern
You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and John Parrish did pretty well at that this afternoon, looking terrific in pitching six strong innings. It was the first win for a lefty starter for the Blue Jays this season, and it gives them a chance for a second straight series victory after taking until this week to get their first one for the month of June.
What struck me the most about Parrish is that he only walked two over his six innings. This is a guy who historically has walked more than twice as many, on average, over his major-league career, but in Syracuse he got his BB/9 down to 3.84. This spring, Parrish worked with Brad Arnsberg on staying straighter and not throwing across his body so much. The goal was to increase both his control and his stamina and if that’s been accomplished, the Jays might have another nice weapon on their hands. Still, he’s only scheduled to make one more start before Shaun Marcum comes off the disabled list, against the Yankees on July 13th, the day before the all-star break.
Cito Gaston put a different line-up out there for the first time since last Sunday (when they had no DH), and it worked rather nicely. The additions (Eckstein and Barajas) combined to go 3-for-7 with a double and a homer, four runs scored and two RBIs. Joe Inglett kept up his surge in the last game of his 20s, singling twice, once driving in a pair of runs. And it came in a bat-around inning – the 5th time the Jays have sent eight hitters or more to the plate in an inning in the last five games. If you’re looking for a basis for comparison, the Jays had had four such innings the first 23 days of June.
It’ll be interesting to see how Gaston uses Brian Tallet next. The Braves hit for the cycle off Tallet in the 8th inning, scoring four runs to turn a 6-1 blowout into a temporary nailbiter. The lefty only gave up one hard-hit ball, Mark Teixeira’s home run, and Cito did leave him in after that to strike out Greg Norton and get Brian McCann on a grounder. Gaston hasn’t found a situation yet where he trusts Brandon League, despite having had 8th-inning leads of 13, six and five in the last five games, and now you have to wonder what might happen after that Talletic performance.
One thing that made me raise an eyebrow was the lack of a pinch-runner for The Captain in the 8th inning. Lead-off double in a one-run game, you have speed on the bench in Brad Wilkerson, Johnny Mac and Scoot. I would have pinch-run with McDonald and then pinch-hit Gregg Zaun for Eckstein. What Cito did worked beautifully, though, with Eck singling in the run. The Wells two-run double made the defensive replacement idea kind of moot anyway.
Make sure you tune in Sunday afternoon for a fine conversation with Cowboy Joe West – we went about 14 minutes and I could easily have talked to him for another hour. That interview will headline the pre-pre-game show, starting at noon Eastern on the FAN590 and here on the website.
Here’s today’s edition of The JaysTalk, for your listening pleasure:
Comments are encouraged, as always. The 24/7 JaysTalk seems to be a big hit!