11:48 PM Eastern
On the heels of the four-game win streak, the Jays’ bats were shut down by the cellar-dwelling Cleveland Indians, and the chance for a 7-0 homestand went up in smoke.
David Purcey pitched very well, save for the 4th inning, during which he faced six hitters and all of them hit rockets. Luckily for Purcey, Jamey Carroll’s line drive was snared by Scott Rolen, Brad Wilkerson ran down a Jhonny Peralta blast at the warning track and Franklin Gutierrez got greedy and tried to stretch his single to left-centre into a double. That was all that stood between the Tribe and maybe a seven-plus run inning. Aside from that one hiccup, though, Purcey was terrific. He struck out a career-high eight and walked only two, leaving after six innings down 3-1.
I’ve always really liked Anthony Reyes, who the Indians picked up in a trade with St. Louis last month. I thought he was extraordinarily unlucky to go 2-14 with the Cards last season, and that really his only big problem was an inability to keep the ball in the park (a very big problem, I’ll grant you). He didn’t have a problem with that tonight, though. The Jays really only threatened once – when they tried to do the same thing they did in the 4th inning last night.
Down 3-0 to the A’s, they rallied with two out and nobody on, picking up five straight hits, with John McDonald ending the inning getting caught in a rundown as the go-ahead run scored on his two-run double.
This time, they were also down 3-0 (to Cleveland), and in the same spot in the line-up, and again started a rally with two out and nobody on. This time it was three straight hits and a hit batsman, and once again Johnny Mac came to the plate with two out and the game dying to be changed. This time, though, Mac hit a fly ball to deepish centre which was easily run down by Grady Sizemore. The Jays didn’t threaten again before the Tribe tacked on two insurance runs in the 8th.
So the great Johnny Mac debate resumes. Would the Jays have been better suited having David Eckstein at bat in that situation in the 4th tonight? Definitely. Would Eckstein have come through? Probably not – the odds are against him doing something productive with two out , as they are against any hitter, but he gives them a better shot than McDonald. Does that mean Mac should sit? What about his glove? Truth is, his glove gives the Jays a better shot at preventing runs than anyone else on the team. They’re now 15-9 when he starts.
I’m still on the fence. I think that if the hitters were performing to their capabilities and if Vernon Wells and Aaron Hill were healthy, it’d be a no-brainer to have McDonald in there every night. But what I’ve said many times this year still holds true – the Jays have lost MANY more games because of a lack of offense than because of shoddy defense. It’s mind-bottling, I don’t even know which way I’m leaning. For sheer entertainment value, though, there’s nothing like watching John McDonald make magic out at shortstop.
Here’s tonight’s edition of The JaysTalk, extendo and all, for your listening pleasure:
Reasonable, rational comments are encouraged – with the day-game-after-a-night-game caveat.
Remember, the pre-pre-game show goes at noon Eastern Saturday on The Fan590 and on this very website. Scott Richmond will be joining us live, maybe I’ll see if we can get him to take some phone calls!