11:32 PM Eastern
Now that’s the way you want to start a nine-game run against the only two teams in the league that are ahead of you in the standings. The Jays struck early against longtime nemesis Matt Garza and Brandon Morrow made it stand up all the way into the 8th.
Morrow was sensational, but not in the manner in which we’re used to him being sensational (in those starts in which he is sensational, that is). He came into the game with 65 strikeouts in 50 innings so far this season and increased his K count by just one. And yet, he took a no-hitter into the 6th, had a two-hit shutout through seven and saw the light of the eighth inning for the first time as a Blue Jay. Pitch efficiency is a wonderful thing, and Morrow used just 86 pitches to get through the first seven innings.
How talented is this guy that he can go from a strikeout thrower to a pitcher’s pitcher from one start to the next, and do it against the team with the best record in the majors? Morrow is some kind of talent, no question, though you can rest assured that there will still be a few bumps along the road to out-and-out awesomeness.
As for the sticks, the Jays only homered once, so they finished the month of May with 54 big flies – four shy of the all-time major-league record for home runs in a month, but the one jack was rather big. Adam Lind went deep in the first inning, an opposite-field laser beam into the Blue Jays’ bullpen to give the home side the early 2-0 lead. Aaron Hill scored ahead of Lind in what was a “Revenge of the BABIP” night for Hill. He had three hits, none of which were struck solidly. Two ground balls that found holes and a little looper at which he threw his bat and knocked into short centrefield. The latter drove in the Jays’ other run – one of Fred Lewis’ two doubles.
Kevin Gregg made the ninth inning awfully nervous, giving up a one-out triple to Evan Longoria, but give Longoria props for aggressiveness. The gapper to the wall in right-centre didn’t look like three bases off the bat, and most players would have stopped at second, especially since they represented the tying run in the 9th, but Longoria never hesitated. Even with the fantastic throwing arms of Jose Bautista and Hill performing the relay, he knew he had the speed to make it to third, and he did. Carlos Pena then walked on four pitches, though I’m thinking two of those pitches were strikes if someone other than Joe “The Games Take Too Long So I’m Going To Have A Really Small Strike Zone” West was umpiring.
With runners on the corners and one out, the Jays decided to play the infield in to cut the run off at the plate. I would have gone the other way, hanging back and hoping to get the double play ground ball that ends the game – especially since catcher John Jaso was at the plate. Jaso provided the grounder, but with the infield in, Alex Gonzalez came home and for the second time in a week, threw out a runner at the plate in the 9th inning. If they play my way, the game’s over then, but it didn’t last much longer as Gregg got Gabe Kapler to hit another grounder to short and that was that.
It was another exciting, well-played, fun game, and if they provide eight more of those as the ENORMOUS NINE continues, then it’s going to be a blast to watch.
Here’s tonight’s edition of The JaysTalk, for your listening pleasure:
Tomorrow, Brian Tallet returns for his one-off start before Jesse Litsch takes over the fifth spot in the rotation and faces Jeff Niemann, who outpointed Ricky Romero in Rookie of the Year balloting last season and is 5-0 to start this year with a 1.05 WHIP. Very impressive. Josh Roenicke was optioned to Vegas to make room for Tallet – he has closer stuff, but he needs to learn to throw strikes on a consistent basis. He was doing it in Vegas earlier this season, with just one walk and eight strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings before his call-up, but couldn’t do it here, walking 11 in 12 2/3. Maybe next time – and there will certainly be a next time.
Here’s the transcript of tonight’s edition of “Miked Up LIVE!”