12:40 AM Eastern
The Jays had been waiting for a strong start from Casey Janssen this season, and I’m not sure they expected it would come in that hitters’ haven in Texas, but Janssen got the job done with five shutout innings before getting the old “death by a thousand paper cuts” and hitting the showers in the 6th.
It was a weird outing for Casey, who didn’t dominate at all over the course of those first five. Two of the four hits he gave up were booming doubles, he gave up a couple of really deep fly balls that were caught and Nelson Cruz hit an absolute rocket in the 4th that Scott Rolen somehow came up with and turned into a double play – making the throw to second off his back foot.
One would expected that when (if?) the roof fell in on Janssen tonight, it would have been because some more of those hard-hit balls would have been hit, and found holes, and the Rangers would have started beating him up.
Didn’t happen. Instead, Janssen didn’t give up a single fly ball in the 5th or 6th, but in that 6th inning he issued the dreaded lead-off walk, then gave up a solid single to Cruz. David Murphy – the man who had hit those two ringing doubles – hit a grounder to second that Aaron Hill left on the grass to load the bases, then Marlon Byrd hit a grounder into the 5-6 hole that Marco Scutaro couldn’t come up with, scoring a run. Janssen then struck out Chris Davis, but Rod Barajas couldn’t corral strike three, another run scored, and Casey was done.
It’s weird, it’s almost as though he found his stride those last two innings (well, 1 1/3), but the sixth was when he got knocked around.
Jason Frasor closed out the 6th and pitched a 1-2-3 7th – I guess putting his picture on the milk carton helped – and Brandon League and Scott Downs, with a four-out save, finished up.
Frasor caught a big break when Elvis Andrus bunted through what was supposed to be a suicide squeeze with runners on the corners and one out in the 6th. The potential tying run was erased as Barajas chased Byrd back to third and dove at his feet as Byrd dove for the bag. The Jays got the call, but it was impossible to see on replay whether Barajas actually tagged him.
Adam Lind provided the pop – all the offense the Jays would need, in fact – with a pair of two-run homers. It was the first time in his career he’d homered twice in a game. One of them was hit to right-centre, one to left-centre, and both cashiered Vernon Wells ahead of Lind, Wells having drawn a lead-off walk in each of the 2nd and 4th.
Lind was in left field tonight – so much for the theory espoused by a caller a couple of days ago that playing the field messed Lind up at the plate.
Aaron Hill had a hit for the second straight game as he continues to come out of that slump, Rolen returned to the line-up after two days off with a bad back and had three hits, and A.L. Player of the Week Lyle Overbay singled and walked, extending his hitting streak to 14 games.
A couple of people on The JaysTalk wanted to talk about the fact that Downs was brought in for the four-out save. I’m a big fan of this when the need arises, and it certainly wasn’t the wrong call by Cito tonight. Brandon League definitely did his job – he got a strikeout and two ground balls, but the second grounder went into right field for a hit, bringing up the all-or-nothing lefty Chris Davis. It had been all nothing for Davis to that point in the game, striking out three times against Janssen, but Cito didn’t want Davis to catch up with one and give the Rangers the lead, so he went to his closer. Ron Washington went to the bench, and Downs got Andruw Jones on a grounder to third.
In the bottom of the 9th, Downs was shaky to start, walking Jarrod Saltalamacchia and giving up a hard line single to Andrus, but he settled down and with help from a great catch by Wells in the left-centre gap on Hank Blalock, nailed down his eighth save. I think the long wait between the 8th and 9th had a lot to do with Downs’ hard time. That’s something through which he’s definitely not used to sitting. And asking him to get four outs after he hadn’t pitched since Friday night isn’t a big deal at all, I don’t think.
One more thing – one of the last JaysTalk callers, one in a long line of those who say Rios and Wells should be moved down in the line-up (yes, I know they should be, I agree, but they don’t suck), suggested that either Kevin Millar or Rod Barajas should be moved up into the 5th spot, with Adam Lind moving to clean-up.
I have no issue at all with Lind hitting fourth, I think it’s a great idea to move him up, but give me a break with Barajas and Millar. Here are some numbers for you over the last month, from May 8th to June 8th, including tonight’s game for Barajas, Millar, Rios and Wells. Try to figure out who is who:
.279/.347/.505 (.852 OPS)
.226/.247/.333 (.580 OPS)
.220/.279/.266 (.545 OPS)
.194/.270/.299 (.469 OPS)
Think about it, then check the answer below.
Here’s tonight’s edition of The JaysTalk, for your listening pleasure:
Tomorrow, we’re on the air with a pre-pre-game show at 7:00 PM Eastern on The Fan590 and here on this very website, then we hook up with the rest of the country at 7:30 for an 8:05 first pitch. Brian Tallet is going to try to get out of the first inning unscathed – the Jays will face Doug Mathis, who comes out of the ‘pen to make the start because scheduled starter Brandon McCarthy has a stress fracture in his shoulder. Make sure to tune in!
I keep forgetting to give softball updates – my old man league started up in May, but I didn’t get to play my first game until last week. We lost 15-10, and I went a disappointing 1-for-3 with a single. Turned a nice double play at short, though – thanks to a fair bit of generosity from the umpire at first.
Here are your answers, by the way – in order, those month-long numbers belong to Rios, Barajas, Wells and Millar.
Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome!