VOTE FOR TOM CHEEK – DETAILS AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST
12:30 AM Eastern
Calm down now. I don’t mean by the title of this post that I believe the Blue Jays are going to make it to the post-season, though I won’t stop anyone from thinking that way. What I mean is that, for the Blue Jays, the playoffs begin NOW. Problem is, it’s not simply a best-of-7.
The streak has been great, 11 wins in their last 12, 37-20 since July 7th (105-win pace over an entire season) and all of this current streak coming against teams ahead of them in the standings, but the real work begins now. If the Jays don’t take at least three out of four in Boston, starting tomorrow night, then they’re all but done. If they do, there’s a pulse, and if they sweep (which would mean 15 wins in 16 games) then that pulse becomes pretty strong. But enjoy this, because without question, the Blue Jays are now playing MEANINGFUL GAMES IN SEPTEMBER.
As for this last one against the White Sox, it was almost a carbon-copy of seemingly every other Shaun Marcum start in the first half, except that this time the Jays scored early enough to get him a win. Marcum seems to be the king of six shutout innings only to have the score be 0-0 going into the 7th, and tonight it stayed that way into the 8th, when the Jays exploded off of Gavin Floyd and two relievers. In the 8th inning, Jays hitters actually went 7-for-8, with Adam Lind’s strikeout against Matt Thornton the only time a Blue Jay got out against his will. Joe Inglett willingly gave himself up – a good time for a sac bunt!- and Scott Rolen was eliminated on the basepaths.
Marcum seems to have keyed into the same magic that Jesse Litsch picked up in his return from a short demotion. When Litsch got back, he went two starts without giving up a run, and Marcum hasn’t been scored upon (while he’s been on the mound, at least) in his two starts since his return. He turned things over to the usually-reliable Scott Downs, who has been anything but the last three times out.
I was curious as to why Downs would be called upon in the 8th inning of a 6-0 game, especially with the four-spot in Boston coming up, but then I thought it should just be a quick two-out tune-up, not so bad. Instead, it may have given Cito Gaston a reason NOT to use Downs as his automatic 8th inning guy in the big series in Boston. After Brian Anderson took him to the base of the right-field wall for a fly out, Jermaine Dye ripped a double to right-centre, then Jim Thome destroyed a ball to dead centre for a two-run homer – the only round-tripper Downs has given up to a left-handed hitter all season.
Granted, Thome is a great hitter, but he struggles making contact against lefties, hitting .227 with 46 strikeouts in 132 at-bats. He does however, tend to make the ball go far when he does hit it, slugging .500 against the southpaws.
That’s three shaky outings in a row for Downs, though this was the first one in which he’s been scored upon. I mentioned it on the show and in the comments section, but how weird is it that at a time when the Jays are playing their best baseball of the season, Downs and B.J. Ryan are the weakest links?
Ryan wasn’t bad today – he hit A.J. Pierzynski, which is commendable, to lead off the 9th, but then struck out the side around a routine grounder to third that Rolen booted.
Here’s tonight’s edition of The JaysTalk, for your listening pleasure:
Remember, today and every day in the month of September, please vote for Tom Cheek and ONLY for Tom Cheek to be on the ballot for the Ford C. Frick Award to gain entry into the broadcasters’ wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. It’ll make more of an impact on the voters if Tom alone gets the overwhelming majority of the votes. Just click on this link:
It’s a bit of a pain to fill out all the info, but it only takes two minutes at the most, and Tom Cheek was certainly worth your time. Thank you.
Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome!