11:05 PM Eastern
It’s been a season of ups and downs so far for the Blue Jays – or maybe better said a season of “up” and “down”. A 27-14 start meant that the Jays, in many people’s minds, went from a last-place team to a playoff pretender to a playoff contender to a playoff lock. Then a nine-game losing streak and a bucket load of mediocrity since (12-10 since the losing streak) had ankles breaking all over the GTA from fans throwing themselves off the bandwagon. We’ve had more than a few “season is over” and “now we’re seeing the real Blue Jays” comments over the course of the Jays’ 12-19 run.
But with tonight’s win over the Reds – one that was far closer than it ought to have been thanks to Shawn Camp and Jesse Carlson – the Blue Jays are tied for the American League wild card spot. Quibble over percentage points and the loss column if you will, but in the crucial “games behind” column, the Blue Jays and Yankees are tied atop the American League wild card race. To quote a great Yankee announcer who has long since left us, “How about that?”
Brian Tallet was sensational, pitching on three days’ rest following his shortened outing in Washington – he left after five (76 pitches) having been pinch-hit for. He shut the Reds down on just three hits over six, none of which were hit hard, walked one, struck out seven and left with a 6-0 lead that Camp did his best to give back. Carlson came in to clean up Camp’s bases-loaded, none-out mess, and gave up four fly balls. Problem is, one of them fell in for a two-run double and two others went for sac flies.
Jason Frasor stood tall, though, nailing down just his second save working around a Chris Dickerson single in the 9th. The offense was terrific, with home runs by Scott Rolen, The Captain and Marco Scutaro (his first since Tax Day) and Alex Rios and Vernon Wells running wild on the basepaths. The Jays cashed their opportunities tonight, scoring three of their four runners who were on third with less than two out.
We also saw Scoot’s baserunning derring-do rubbing off on Aaron Hill a bit, with Hill tagging from first and going to second on Wells’ fly out in the 5th.
Before the game, Reds’ first baseman Joey Votto held court in the Cinci dugout to talk about his time on the disabled list with anxiety disorder. Votto seemed to really let us in, giving us a clear picture of the difficulties through which he has been going in the aftermath of his father’s passing last summer. You’ll be able to read a story about it pretty much anywhere you want to go in the morning (or even overnight on the internets), so I won’t go into too much depth, but he has suffered through a combination of panic attacks, depression and anxiety. He couldn’t be alone at night, he had all the physical symptoms of heart attack, there were occasions when he honestly thought he was going to die.
Votto was near tears several times when he told us his story, and I empathize with him tremendously. He seemed incredibly genuine, and it’s most assuredly as open as he’s ever been with me and the rest of the media corps. It’s kind of strange to say, because I don’t really know the guy other than spending five or ten minutes with him every time the Reds have played the Jays (including spring training games) and, of course, during the WBC, but I’m really proud of him.
The world of professional athletics is one where machismo tends to be in overdrive and anything viewed as a weakness is jumped on and pounded away at from all angles. Those weaknesses can include such things as kindness and intelligence, believe it or not, but a psychological issue is a whole other matter indeed. To admit and then to be so open about about a mental issue is a very daring thing for a pro athlete. Bravo, Joe.
Here’s tonight’s edition of The JaysTalk, for your listening pleasure:
Tomorrow, Scott Richmond takes the mound for the first time after his valiant extra-inning sojourn in Washington, facing Bronson Arroyo who is, in fact, named after the Death Wish guy. We’re on at 7:00 PM Eastern for a 7:07 first pitch. Tune us in then, and tune in The Fan590 (or right here on the website) Wednesday morning, I want to say 10:20 AM, I’ll be hopping on with the Mikes, Hogan and Toth, on The Bullpen.
Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome!