9:25 PM Eastern
I’m just assuming.
I can’t think of any other reason that the Blue Jays would put on such a pitiful display both with Halladay on the mound on Saturday and with his main competitor for the Cy Young Award on the mound today.
Yesterday’s travails are well-documented in the previous post. One would think that, given the events of yesterday, the Blue Jays would want even more to stick it to Cliff Lee both to show the world (or at least those portions of the QEW and I-90 between here and Cleveland – no one else is really paying attention) who really ought to have started the All-Star game and whose claim to being the best starting pitcher in the A.L. is more legit.
Instead, it was an entire afternoon of “thank you, Cliff, may I have another?” (Of course, it might have something to do with the fact that baseball isn’t a game that can be won by motivation, intimidation or “wanting it more”.)
The bats weren’t as awful as they were in rolling over for Paul Byrd yesterday. The Jays had at least a man on in each of the first five innings against Lee, and they hit some balls awfully hard. They just didn’t score. Grady Sizemore made a couple of nice catches on the warning track to take extra-base hits away from Vernon Wells and Marco Scutaro, Adam Lind flied out to the base of the wall in left and Alex Rios did the same in centre, and Shin-Soo Choo made a really nice play to run down a David Eckstein gapper at the track in left-centre.
Of course, his next time up, Eckstein was asked to bunt with runners at first and second and nobody out in a game his team trailed 3-0 IN THE FIFTH INNING! I’m not going to go on my usual diatribe here about that decision, but I will say that if your confidence in a hitter is so shaky that you’d want him to give himself up in that situation, you shouldn’t be hitting him at the top of the line-up. Personally, I’d have put the hit-and-run on, which is something I’m not sure I’ve seen Cito Gaston do at all since he took over.
I saw Scott Rolen in the clubhouse before the game, walking towards Cito’s office with trainer George Poulis, so I figured something was up, though I wasn’t sure he’d land on the DL. It’s probably the best thing. I’m no doctor, nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I couldn’t quite figure out how intensive therapy plus a day off or so a week was going to get Rolen’s shoulder right. Maybe two weeks of nothing but intensive therapy will help, or maybe he’ll need another surgery, though it’s tough to imagine Rolen wanting to put himself through that a fourth time. They’ll miss his glove badly, but they certainly won’t miss his post-June bat. He’s hit .172/.291/.242 since the calendar flipped to July.
Rolen’s injury means that Marco Scutaro will be the everyday third baseman, with Eckstein and Joe Inglett likely platooning at second and John McDonald standing firm at shortstop. Mac has started seven games in a row, and it appears now that Cito couldn’t take him out of the line-up even if he wanted to. But why would he want to? Two more hits for Johnny Mac this afternoon though, like the other six Jays hits, they didn’t amount to anything scoreboardically.
Vernon Wells is back, after a two-day rehab. He went 0-for-4, although he did bust it down the line on his grounder to second in the 3rd – a good test for the hamstring. Wells crushed the ball to centre in his first at-bat, on a line, but right at Sizemore. It’s a huge indictment of the Blue Jays’ hitters as a group that Vernon, despite having missed nearly NINE weeks of the season, stands second on the club in home runs and third in RBIs. Lyle Overbay, a favourite whipping boy by you comment-type-folk out there, has played 50 more games than Wells, and yet has one fewer homer and only four more runs batted in. He’s scored 19 more runs, so that’s at least something.
On The JaysTalk, you may have heard me mention that A.J. Burnett isn’t talking to me. When I asked him for a few minutes this morning for The Blue Jays This Week (you know, since he’s leading the team in wins with a career-high number and all), he declined. When I asked why, he informed me that he didn’t like what was being said about him on the radio station. He didn’t seem to understand that the fact that it wasn’t me saying those things made a difference – but I’d be almost as disappointed if he was complaining about me, given the fact that the things I say about him and his teammates are fair. I mean, if you can’t handle the truth, get out of the kitchen. Or something.
Regardless, you, the fans, will not be hearing from Allan James Burnett on the radio anymore. Sorry to have to pass along the bad news. A.J. has been a different sort of guy from his first day with the Jays. I wouldn’t say alternating hot and cold, but you definitely don’t always know who you’re going to get. In his first meeting with the media he was cordial, gracious, friendly and seemed pretty terrific. Then, in his first Spring Training, I want to say that it was after his third start (he hadn’t yet gotten hurt) that he tore a strip off a group of us reporter-types for “crowding his locker” – despite the fact that we were about five feet away waiting for him to grace us with his presence. The ups and downs have continued from there – he was great to me this spring, for example – so I don’t know if this is just another “down” or if this is for good. If he never talks to me again, it’d be a shame, because you, the listeners, want to hear from the players, I think. That’s why I’ll keep trying, anyway, if only for another seven weeks or so. Then I won’t have to deal with him anymore.
Here’s today’s The JaysTalk for your listening pleasure:
Reasonable, rational comments are always welcome.