11:10 PM Eastern
Even though the Blue Jays nearly blew a six-run lead far later on in last night’s game, you kind of got the feeling this one was over after the Jays simply took Bronson Arroyo to the woodshed off the hop. Five batters into the bottom of the first inning, the Jays had a 5-0 lead. Marco Scutaro worked an eight-pitch walk and Aaron Hill took the next pitch into the seats beyond the Jays’ pen in left. Vernon Wells took the pitch after that into the seats beyond the Jays’ pen in left, and after Scott Rolen Charlie Browned Arroyo with a line drive up the middle, Adam Lind went deep, though his didn’t make the seats.
It was the 27th time the Jays have hit three homers in an inning – the last time was on May 20th, 2007 when Alex Rios, Wells and Matt Stairs did it. When Hill and Wells went back to back (and belly to belly), it was only the second time all season that the Jays have had back-to-back jacks – Lind and Rolen in Cleveland May 5th.
Scott Richmond had his struggles early on, though there wasn’t much damage. He gave up a one-out solo shot to Jonny Gomes in the second and then a couple of wild pitches following a walk and a broken-bat single got the Reds a run in the third. But through those three innings, Richmond had real trouble closing out at-bats. He only allowed four baserunners through the first three innings, but threw 66 pitches.
Then, it clicked. After a rough, 26-pitch third inning that featured those two wild pitches, Richmond needed only 25 pitches to get through the next THREE innings! Richmond closed out his night with four perfect innings, retiring the last 14 hitters he faced, and Hey Dirkhurst came in to finish up.
On the lefty-meter, southpaws went 0-for-12 off Richmond with two walks and one strikeout. And this after he shut down all those left-handed-hitting Phillies in his last start! Very, very nice.
Even though it felt over early, the Blue Jays broke with tradition and continued to add a run here and there – one thanks to a terrible throw by Adam Rosales on a hard ground ball by Wells that had a good chance to be an inning-ending double play in the 4th, another on a Wells double in the 2nd (hey, he’s 13-for-his-last-32 <.406> and has an extra-base hit in four straight games!), and another when Russ Adams showed his wheels coming around on a hard line single by Hill in the 8th.
They didn’t need it, though, with the Reds managing a grand total of two singles after the third inning.
Scott Rolen shone again – first he extended his hit streak to 13 games (over which he’s hitting.446 – take that, Vernon!), and then he CLIMBED THE LADDER to pull down what should have been a two-run double by Jerry Hairston, Jr. in the eighth. If Rolen doesn’t get way up there, I’m thinking it was about 16 or 17 feet, it’s a 7-4 game with the tying run on deck, one out in the 8th, and the 3-4-5 hitters up, and who knows where things go from there.
I have said a few times on the air that Scott Rolen may just be the best defensive third baseman in the history of the game, and there are many around the game who agree with me, including Hall-of-Famer and 10-time Gold Glover Mike Schmidt.
GBOAT is a solid nickname for Rolen, no doubt, and I was all over that early, referring to him as the Greatest Blue Jay Of All Time when he started his career here late last April, but the more I see him, the more I want to call him The Caveman. I don’t know if I can accurately describe why, but just watch him in the batters’ box with that ferocious line-drive swing, watch the way he throws the ball, with that strange, raised-middle-finger grip, the way he snatches at those short hops off to his left. I say this with all due respect – its wonderful in its neanderthalicity.
And hey, that way we get The Captain and The Caveman!
Here’s tonight’s edition of The JaysTalk, for your listening pleasure:
Tomorrow night, the brooms is out! Brett Cecil against Johnny Cueto, tune us in at 7:00 PM Eastern!
Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome.