12:45 AM Eastern

Well, that was certainly a fun way to end a road trip.  Ninth-inning excitement and whatnot, and the way things played out definitely generated quite a bit of debate.

I have to admit that I was disappointed, but not surprised, by the calls for Jose Bautista to bunt in the top of the 9th after Bobby Abreu butchered a fly ball that allowed Alex Gonzalez to be standing at second with the tying run and nobody out.  It’s funny, people accuse me of “hating on” Bautista because I’m not convinced that what he’s doing this season is his new normal, but then they want the guy bunting in the 9th inning when you’re down a run!

It’s insane to ask a .900+ OPS guy – the major-league leader in home runs – to lay down a bunt.  As it turns out, he struck out, but John Buck then doubled in the tying run.

In the bottom of the 9th, Scott Downs came back out after an 8th inning in which he gave up three fly balls to the warning track and Mike Napoli led off with a looper that wasn’t hit nearly as well as the other three balls that fell in for a double.  Mike Scioscia, as he is wont to do, sent Maicer Izturis up to bunt the potential winning run to third, and Izturis failed.  He fouled off a couple of pitches to get himself into an 0-2 hole, but still managed to hit a ground ball to the right side to advance the runner.

At that point the decision was made to intentionally walk the bases loaded.  Fine by me.  The winning run is 90 feet away, you need to get yourself into a situation in which you can come home on any ground ball and force that runner out, and that’s what wound up happening.

With the infield in, Alex Gonzalez made a spectacular dive to his left and, sprawling on the ground, fired a strike to Jose Molina to nail Napoli at the plate.  Molina then threw to first to try to double up Howie Kendrick because he hadn’t seen that Juan Rivera suddenly forgot how to run the bases and was standing at second, mouth agape, watching Gonzalez.  Had Molina thrown the ball to third, the game might well still be going on right now.  It’s tough to blame him, though.  The automatic move is to throw to first there because out of all the runners, the batter is the one who gets the worst jump, and even if there were people screaming at him to throw to third (doubtful), there were also 35,000 other people just kind of screaming in general.

Bobby Abreu followed with the sweet redemption of a walk-off line single to left.

So the Jays close out the road trip at 3-5, which is just fine.  Coming out ahead on a western road swing is phenomenal, breaking even is pretty good.  Missing the break-even mark by one win is just fine and the Jays are 2 1/2 games out of a playoff spot – that far back only by virtue of the division in which they play.

Brandon Morrow wasn’t great, but he wasn’t awful, and he left in a 3-3 tie after five.  He’s had 10 starts this year – four great, four ugly and two ok.  He’s still only 25 and has the potential to easily be the best starter on a very, very good staff.

One more thing before I go.  Edwin Encarnacion has been fantastic at the plate since coming off the disabled list, but in consecutive games now he has cost the Blue Jays a shot at a triple play with his defense.  Tuesday night, with runners on first and second and none out, Encarnacion fielded a ground ball by Izturis, stepped on third, turned and fired the ball about five feet over the glove of a leaping Aaron Hill and into right field.  A good throw there, and the Jays turn their first triple play since 1979.

Tonight, first and second and none out and Edwin botched his shot at redemption.  Kendrick hit a ground ball directly over the third base bag that Encarnacion short-armed and saw go right off the fingers of his glove and down the left-field line.  If he catches the ball, again, triple play.  How many chances are they going to get?

Once Travis Snider comes back – though his wrist is still bothering him to the point where he’s not yet able to swing – Jose Bautista has to move back to third base.  You don’t want to lose Encarnacion’s bat (though he is only hitting 9th – more of the continued what’s-up-with-thatness of the Cito Gaston school of lineup-building), so you can’t just bench him.  The solution is that Encarnacion moves into a platoon with Lyle Overbay at first – he’s played there before with the Reds -and gets another game or two a week at third when Snider, Fred Lewis, Vernon Wells or Bautista gets a day off.  That way, each of the four of them gets a day off every two weeks.  So crazy it just might work?  I know.

Here’s tonight’s edition of The JaysTalk – which extendo’d into The Night Shift with Roger Lajoie – for your listening pleasure:

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And here’s the transcript of this evening’s edition of “Miked Up LIVE!”  Interesting indeed that when things started cooking in the 9th, people actually started talking about the game!

9 Responses to “Abreu Giveth and Abreu Taketh Away”
  1. 1.

    What about EE playing some OF?

    - JW
  2. 2.

    “So the Jays close out the road trip at 3-5, which is just fine.”

    No, it’s not fine. Would you ever hear such a statement in connection with, say, the Yankees or Red Sox? Of course not.

    It reflects the loser mentality and acceptance of mediocrity that are major reasons why Toronto is fast becoming a joke on the North American sports scene.

    Unacceptable for the fourth largest market on the continent.

    Rogers should spend what it takes to build a winner in the AL East or admit they don’t have the baseballs to hang with the big dogs.

    The Jays annual spring tease (i.e., the baseball equivalent of the Leafs’ “Boys of March” charade) is just about over.
    What an embarrasment.

    - Paul McDougall
  3. 3.

    Methinks yesterday may have been the last time the Blue Jays are not in fourth place in the division this season. Yes, they play Balt. this weekend, but Boston has four against Kansas City, and that’s the end of the Blue Jays’ cushy early-season schedule.

    I think you’re a bit too generous in rating Morrow’s starts. The start against KC is the only one I’d call great; in the other non-disaster starts, he either allowed more hits than innings, or walked way too many guys, so you can’t call him great. In any case, the Jays aren’t really contending this year, so they need to keep letting him work on things. If he has a poor start and cost them a game, so what? It’s building for the future (which Eveland was definitely not).

    And Mike, you’re still mis-representing what Lyle Overbay has done. I heard you say last night that he’s certainly not been the Jays’ worst hitter over the last five weeks. That may or not be true, but his OPS in May is .624; in April it was .611. The batting average is up over 50 points this month, but the OBP is actually worse. I know you defend him based on what he’s done over his career, but please stop insising that he’s been okay since the first two weeks (he had one good six-game stretch over eight days, that’s all).

    - Nicholas
  4. 4.

    This time, I can actually write in fully supporting you on something you raise and that is the notion of getting Encarnacion off 3B. It is time to assume that he can never field like a ML third sacker must and be shifted. I really like your suggestion, but I would go even further in the short term. Let Bautista play 3B, put Lind into the line-up at LF with Lewis moving to RF until Snyder gets back. Then, Encarnacion can DH, at least against righties, immediately.

    - Lorne Cohen
  5. 5.

    michael,
    got to thinking as i was listening to the ballgame last evening & as the mgr. was making his bullpen pitching changes as the game wore on….
    what is exactly happening these days with the once lefty darling of the bullpen,
    one jesse carlson.
    is he ever getting back here you think?
    kind of off the radar screen now these days it seems.
    success can be ever so fleeting can it not?

    - darrell bishop
  6. 6.

    Hey Mike,

    Any chance that Edwin Encarnacion could play firstbase because his only real issue is his arm, his range is good and overbay won’t be here next year and then Wallace can go back to his natural position.

    - Jason
  7. 7.

    michael,
    you been noticing i’m going to safely assume our former hot corner human vaccuum, mr. scott rolen & his play thus far this season……
    tearing it up he is. 11 hr’s 30 rbi’s & not even june yet.
    and assume the defence in the field has been near spotless as usual for him.
    god i loved that guy michael.
    shame on him shunning us like he did. shame on him.
    but me thinks we’re going to come out of that deal looking sweet regardless.
    so take that scott rolen. take that.
    could have been my fave jay of all time with even just a bit of career traction here michael. my kind of ball player in every which way no doubt.
    but coulda woulda shoulda though i suppose.
    coulda woulda shoulda……..

    - darrell bishop
  8. 8.

    Regarding Bautista’s hitting:

    ESPN did a piece last Sunday why Bautista has been hitting well and it’s apparently all in his left foot kick timing.

    Before this year, he made ‘the kick’ after the ball left pitcher’s hand, getting behind the pitch when he starts swinging.

    But this year, he’s making the kick’ as the pitcher starts his delivery.

    So he’s following pitcher’s pace of delivery, leading to better timing, less K’s, etc.

    - BK Kim
  9. 9.

    Losing Marcum, Litsch and McGowan was a big blow to the rotation, but McGowan wasn’t etepcxed to be back until June at the earliest and Marcum was basically a writeoff for the 2009 season. Janssen was still having shoulder problems during spring training, and B.J. Ryan was just an accident waiting to happen.All things considered, health-wise the Blue Jays are in much better shape than the Mets but their records are almost identical.

    - Ola
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