10:10 PM Eastern
I’m embarrassed to admit it, but Zeppelin was the third musical act that came to mind when I typed that title up. The first, of which I’m not ashamed, was the Pat Benatar classic. You know, dream-maker, love-taker, don’t you mess around with cheese, that one. The second, that’s the issue for me. After thinking of the Benatar song, and deciding that lyrics from there wouldn’t fit into the title of this post, my inner insanity took me to Dionne Warwick. It’s sad, I know. Maybe as sad as most Jays fans feel about this afternoon’s result.
Make no mistake, this was a terrific game. It featured great clutch pitching, some timely hitting, sensational defense and tremendous bullpen work. It’s just that the wrong team came out on top.
This wasn’t a game that the Blue Jays lost, nor was this a game where they threw away a bunch of opportunities and made their fans pull their hair out in frustration. This was a plain old fun game to watch, with a great atmosphere at the ballpark. Actually, the atmosphere was terrific all week, with Jays’ fans and Red Sox’ fans doing their best to shout each other down. Will this be as close as we’ll get to a playoff feel at the Dome this season? Probably, but you never know.
A.J. Burnett had one bad inning, and when the Jays recovered from it to take the lead, he gave it up right away. Coco Crisp’s leadoff homer in the 7th was a dagger, tying the game mere moments after Barajas’ big double put the Jays ahead by one, though it should have been two.
The Captain was in a 3-for-22 drought when he stepped to the plate following a two-out intentional walk to Matt Stairs in the 6th, and he ripped a ground ball just inside the line at third. Vernon Wells was at third, and scored the go-ahead run. Stairs came chugging all the way around the bases, and slid in under Jason Varitek’s tag, but home plate umpire Angel Campos called him out. I’ve railed against this before, but it’s sad that at the height of the profession, where allegedly the best officials in the world are working, an umpire will still call a player out on a tag play at least 90% of the time when the ball beats him to the base, regardless of the tag. It certainly wasn’t painfully apparent that Stairs was safe, but he was, and he was called out because the throw beat him.
So the Jays only had a one-run lead going into the 7th, as opposed to two or more, and Crisp’s homer tied it up instead of drawing Boston back to within a run.
Burnett was done after seven, despite his protests, and Scott Downs came in to provide two shutout innings, followed by a perfect tenth out of B.J. Ryan against the 2-3-4 hitters in the Sox line-up. That guy should really hang ‘em up, he’s done. Brandon League pitched the 11th, and hung one to Jed Lowrie and the rookie crushed it for what stood up as the game-winning home run. Before you bury League, please note that this was the same guy who struck out David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis as part of a 1-2-3 inning yesterday, and even moreso, remember that he hadn’t given up a run in his last 12 outings!
As much as some people seem to think that a pitcher can get every hitter out when he really wants, or every hitter has the capability to get a hit (or at least hit a fly ball) if he deems the situation important enough, that’s just not the case. Remember, the other guys are really, really good at this, too.
Speaking of really good, after several fans were burying him for his 0-fer on Friday night, Vernon Wells came up huge again – a first-inning, two-out, two-run homer for the second straight game, and then an RBI double in the 6th to pull the Jays back to within a run. Wells was 6-for-9 on the weekend, with a double, three homers, six runs scored and six RBIs.
Here’s today’s edition of The JaysTalk, for your listening pleasure:
So, the Jays are off to Tampa Bay now with a little less of a spring in their step, eight games out of the wild card instead of six, three games back of the third-place Yankees instead of two with only 32 games to go. Roy Halladay starts Tuesday night’s opener, but is followed by David Purcey and John Parrish. It certainly seems less and less likely that the miracle is going to happen, but that’s why they call them miracles. If they happened all the time they’d just be called things.
Here’s the deal. In order to finish with 90 wins, the Jays need to go 23-9 down the stretch, which means they’re going to have to put a mean streak or three together. But they showed us today how entertaining and fun they can be to watch even if they’re not going to be taking part in the post-season yet again.
Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome. If you’re going to come in here and spew bile, please take your act somewhere else.