12:25 AM Eastern
I’m sure after tonight’s terrific finish (thank you, Shawn Camp), most people will be talking about the fact that Jonathan Papelbon drilled Adam Lind in the 9th inning, but that’s not my major issue with this game.
Lind had a fantastic night, belting three homers – two to dead centre and one off the Pesky Pole in right, and then got hit by Papelbon’s first pitch to him as he came to the plate with two out and nobody on in the 9th. Try as you might – and Papelbon did with his “My bad, man. My bad” comment to Lind as the inning ended – there’s no disguising intent when you hit a guy in that situation. None.
I do hope a significant Red Sock gets drilled tomorrow, but at the appropriate time. I don’t want Roy Halladay getting thrown out of the game in the first inning for putting one in Dustin Pedroia’s or Victor Martinez’ ribcage. Actually, I suggested on The JaysTalk tonight that Camp be given the ball to start tomorrow and that he hit as many Red Sox as he has to in order to get thrown out, and then have Halladay brought in from that point. It won’t happen, but that’d be a lot of fun.
My problem with tonight’s game was the starting line-up. I understand that there are a lot of people who think I criticize Cito Gaston too much, but I defy any of you Cito fans to explain this one.
In what universe is the 2009 version of Kevin Millar EVER an appropriate choice to start a major-league game at third base?
Granted, he had a fine game over there – even made a nifty turn of a double play with the shift on – but, to use one of the greatest journalistic arguments ever, come on. Cito has made himself so deathly afraid of using Lind in left field that he’d rather start Millar at third than put Lind out there, move Travis Snider to right and Jose Bautista to third. I understand why Cito does a lot of the things that he does, though I don’t agree, but I absolutely can’t wrap my head around this one.
I understand last night. Encarnacion got hurt mid-game, Lind was already DHing, Marco Scutaro and Joe Inglett are hurt, there weren’t a lot of options, they were leading 11-3. But tonight? You have got to be kidding me.
You know that Millar will start in the series finale with Tim Wakefield on the mound, given Millar’s .419/.486/.903 mark against Knucksie in 35 career plate appearances. Millar has homered more often off Wakefield than off any other pitcher he’s ever faced. I’m just really, really hoping that with supergroundballer Roy Halladay on the mound, we won’t see Millar at third. Heck, put HIM in left field if you’re so scared of Lind out there. No, wait – don’t.
But the bigger question is – why is Cito so reticent to let Lind play the outfield? He’s not a good outfielder, but he’s not THAT bad. He’s certainly a better left fielder than Millar is a third baseman. And allowing Lind to play some left will let the Jays see if they can go with a Lind/Wells/Snider outfield long-term.
What’s the point of running Jose Bautista out there every night? Sure, the defense is good and the throwing arm is outstanding (as are the seven September homers – a career high for any month) . But if the Jays up the payroll, Bautista’s not going to be the right fielder next year. And if they cut the payroll, Bautista (who is arbitration-eligible and will earn about $3 million next season if tendered a contract) isn’t going to be the right fielder next year. Sure, this 8-1 run is a lot of fun right now, but doesn’t it have to be about 2010 and beyond?
This just adds more fuel to the “Cito must go” fire.
By the way, I couldn’t resist the shot at Camp, who was awful tonight, but let’s not forget that he has had a relatively outstanding season. For a guy who was pretty much the definition of “nothing special, if even that” going into this season, he’s been a big, big part of any limited success the Jays’ pen has had. Going into tonight’s game, Camp had a WHIP of 1.234 and was holding the opposition to a .238/.311/.367 line, which is pretty terrific. Right-handed hitters have barely touched him (.218/.288/333) and he’s gone more than two innings ten times.
As a true long man, he’s been ridiculous. Over those ten outings in which he was asked to pitch more than two innings, he’s thrown a total of 29 innings, allowing three runs on 16 hits, walking five and striking out 23. That’s a 0.93 ERA and a 0.724 WHIP when the team has needed him to suck up some innings.
Here’s tonight’s edition of The JaysTalk, for your listening pleasure (can you believe there are only three or four left?):
Tomorrow night, it’s Halladay against Wakefield. Hopefully, the game presents itself with the opportunity for the Blue Jays to even the score for Lind. Despite what the last caller said, putting the winning run on in the bottom of the 9th via the hit batsman wasn’t the right way to go.
Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome!