5:50 PM Eastern

And it certainly was.  Take nothing away from the something-ness of yesterday’s 17-11 J.P. Arencibia show, but today’s game was  – as the late, great Tom Cheek used to say – something else again.

It was a phenomenal capper to a magical weekend at the ol’ ballyard in which the Jays swept away the Tampa Bay Rays in three incredible games, each one better than the last.

This time, it was the Brandon Morrow show.

Morrow was one out away from a no-hitter and struck out 17 with a fastball in the mid-90s and a slider that couldn’t be hit with a tennis racket.  The one hit came on a weak grounder by Evan Longoria hit in the exact perfect place in the 3-4 hole, right between Lyle Overbay and Aaron Hill.  Hill came over a long way, dove, and had the ball kick off of his glove.  There’s no question at all that it had to be scored a base hit, and it certainly brought back memories of Dave Stieb, Julio Franco and Jim Traber.  Like Stieb, Morrow composed himself, bore down and got the next hitter to finish up the shutout.  In Morrow’s case, it was a strikeout of Dan Johnson with the tying run on third base for his first career complete game and shutout.

Stieb had those near no-hitters in consecutive starts, his last two of 1988, and then threw another one-hitter in his second start of 1989, so Morrow has a tough act to follow, but his 137-pitch performance this afternoon stands up with any one of Stieb’s efforts, including the lone no-no in franchise history.

Morrow is the third Blue Jays pitcher to lose a no-hitter with two out in the 9th inning – Stieb did it three times (twice on little cheesy nothing hits to second, just like Morrow today) and Roy Halladay did it once, in his second start in the big leagues.  Morrow can take some solace in the fact that both Stieb and Halladay eventually got their no-no’s.

But this wasn’t a day to lament what could have been, at least not too much.  It would have been even more incredible had Longoria’s ground ball been three feet to the left or to the right and Morrow picked up the no-hitter, but the complete-game one-hitter with 17 strikeouts against only two walks is pretty freaking amazing.

By Game Score, this was the best-pitched game in Blue Jays history, and I’m inclined to agree.  Sure, Stieb got the no-hitter against the Indians, but it didn’t come complete with 17 strikeouts.  Yes, Clemens has the club record with 18 strikeouts in a single game, but he gave up three hits, two of them line drives (one to Larry Sutton – come on).  The Rays didn’t even put a ball in play in fair territory today until the 9th batter of the ballgame, and though they hit a couple of deep fly balls, they didn’t hit a single line drive all afternoon.

One of those deep fly balls, by the way, was hit by Ben Zobrist with two out in the 6th and Vernon Wells tracked it to the wall in deep left-centre, leapt and made a fantastic catch.  He either caught his right big toe in the wall when he came down or jammed it on the warning track, and dislocated it.  He’ll have his foot x-rayed tomorrow, and if there’s no fracture Wells hopes to be back in the line-up on Tuesday.  Wells drove in the game’s only run with a two-out bloop single in the first inning, scoring Yunel Escobar, who had just gone from first to third on a hit-and-run groundout by Jose Bautista.

It’s pretty amazing that in a three-game series in which the Blue Jays outscored the Rays 20-12, we saw two brilliantly-pitched games.

These last two games felt magical.  There was a buzz in this place that (outside the Canada-USA game at the World Baseball Classic last year) hasn’t been here since “The Glory Days”.  Hitters are getting standing ovations, fans are chanting players’ names, people are really getting into the game.  Honestly, you can’t ask for two better games as far as crowd pleasers go than the last two, but it does feel like some folks are starting to realize just how good and how exciting this group is.  I really hope it carries forward. Who knows, maybe there will be more Blue Jays fans than Red Sox fans in the building for the Boston series that starts on Tuesday!

What a weekend.

Here’s this afternoon’s edition of The Extendo-JaysTalk, for your listening pleasure:

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And here’s the transcript from this afternoon’s “Miked Up LIVE!”:

23 Responses to “And I Thought Yesterday Was Something”
  1. 1.

    Wow.

    I’m not gonna forget Roy Halladay, certainly, but Morrow makes Brandon League fade away pretty quickly.

    That trade looks like highway robbery now.

    I think you forgot Molina’s steal as the comic relief for the day. Can you find out what he told the Rays first baseman just before he brok for second?

    - Greg W
  2. 2.

    Brilliant in every respect despite Cito. Although he had the insight to leave Morrow in after the no hitter was broken up. Why no Snider in the line up or Arencibia as DH? I dunno. Although I much prefer Wise coming off the bench than former bench players. I real pleasure to see the Jays youth succeed.

    - Will
  3. 3.

    BTW I came up with a game score of 100…. which makes it the highest score in the majors this year, just ahead of Halladay’s 98 in his perfect game. Is my math right?

    - Greg W
  4. 4.

    Once again Aaron Hill’s lack of range was in plain view. During yesterday’s game in the top of the 5th he dove to his right and missed a ball he probably would have gotten to had he not started out in double-play depth with no-body on. Yesterday it didn’t matter (although the Rays did score some runs in the inning).
    Today he dove to his left again from double play depth.
    This time it put a blemish on one of the greatest pitching performances in Blue Jays history.
    I hope this kid from Cuba comes up soon and they put him at second, moving Hill to 3rd. In fact Hill plays 2nd like a third-baseman. And to think he was drafted as a short-stop!

    - Cito Man
  5. 5.

    How is this for elite company? Here’s a list of all the Games Scores of 100 and up:

    Year Pitcher Team Opp GS
    1998 Kerry Wood Cubs Astros 105
    1991 Nolan Ryan Rangers Blue Jays 101
    1965 Sandy Koufax Dodgers Cubs 101
    2010 Brandon Morrow Blue Jays Rays 100
    2004 Randy Johnson Diamondbacks Braves 100
    2002 Curt Schilling Diamondbacks Brewers 100
    1973 Nolan Ryan Angels Tigers 100
    1972 Nolan Ryan Angels Red Sox 100
    1960 Warren Spahn Braves Phillies 100

    - bluejaysstatsgeek
  6. 6.

    Hello Mike, indeed, what a game…what a weekend…If the Rays continue to slump & with the Red Sox injuries, the Jays can get back into contention for the wild card. But that is a BIG IF they can keep winning series & get some lengthy winning streaks down the strech. 50 games is plenty for a hot team. A couple of points I would like to make.

    The first is that you said on Jays talk, you could of caught Brandon Morrow 2day. Either you were mocking Cito for his decision or meant it. If that was the ladder & say if it was true, we all know there is alot more to being a catcher than catching. Molina did a superb job at calling pitches & picking off pitches off the dirt. That was not mentioned. If Arencibia was in, I wouldn’t say Morrow wouldn’t of had the game he did but the chances are is like 1 in 500. Molina has like 10 years experience in not just the majors, but in the American league. So he knows what pitch to call after batters foul off pitches & what their tendencies, weakness are. You or Arencibia, have far less or none so with the game being only 1-0, one bad call would of been a different game & the Jays may have not of won this game. So, Cito has got to get credit for starting Molina. I bring this up because stuff like this gets overlooked, & if the Jays loose, fans would be calling in & calling for “Cito’s head” as one caller said for not starting Molina or Snider. Just like that 3rd game against the Yankees when Snider lead off. Jays loose, Cito is the reason in post game comments from fans..If they won that game, his shuffling of the lineup doesn’t get mentioned.

    The second point is that I was listening to Jays talk & was glad to hear that a few fans actually called in & gave Cito some credit instead of bashing him. Obviously the main reason was that they won. I’m glad a caller(forgot his name) but he mention that most managers would of took Morrow out after that hit but he left him in. That was a great point. Stuff like that doesn’t get metioned enough. Cito shows confidence in his players & more often than not, they repay him back. If not, that experience of being in jams will benefit the player in the future. I just want to bring these points out so the fans that bash Cito know he does make good decisions & he’s not afraid to put himself out to make gutsy decisions that do end up working out. I know if the Jays loose this game, there would of been a no ending to Cito bashing for this game. These bashers probably don’t notice the good little things in games & only see the mistakes. Like a manager is suppose to be perfect. The bottom like is the Jays are 7 games over .500 & looks like they will improve on that on a year they were suppose to loose 95-100 games & finish dead last in the division. Even with his 2 World Series wins, this manager has yet to recieve an ounce of credit for how this Jays team is over performing this season.

    - David F.
  7. 7.

    Hello Mike, one last point is that I’m like 100% sure that if Hill comes up with that ball & threw to the Overbay with a strong accurate throw in the 9th inning, Longoria would of been out. It would of took a great play though. I looked at the replay many times from MLB.com & Longoria was just past the half way point down the line to first when Hill golved the ball. There was plenty of time to get up or maybe throw from his knees, & he would of got Longoria out especially with Hills strong arm. I think all these people that called the game to sportscasters from the Fan only say he would of been safe anyways are just saying that to not put the blame on Hill & to not make Hill feel like he was the reason Morrow didn’t get the no-no. Nevertheless, Hill’s play along with Wells catch was an unbelievable effort regardless.

    - David F.
  8. 8.

    I just want to say the way you make it sound like baseball in Toronto can be exciting to this level is very pleasing to me!!! It also gives fans like myself a ray (npi) of hope! GO JAYS GO!!!

    - Matt in BC
  9. 9.

    Hi Mike

    As amazing as J.P. was on Saturday and Morrow/Wells were today, there is nothing less spectacular about your blog post today and everything that you do to augment the experience of each Blue Jays game for us.

    I moved from Toronto to NYC in 2000 to work as a computer programmer for Bloomberg and the Fan590.com is my life-line to the Blue Jays and the amazing city of Toronto.

    Keep it going, Mike.

    Regards,
    Todd

    - Todd (NYC)
  10. 10.

    To-Morrow I’ll be Perfect…

    - Paul
  11. 11.

    I wonder what the first base ump was thinking with a possible bang bang play to complete the no hitter. If only…

    Truly an exciting weekend for the Jays. I’ve really enjoyed this season. I’m going to put my money where my heart is and bring my 3 year old to the park the next Saturday home game.

    - Arthur
  12. 12.

    Sat and Sun were 2 of the best back-to-back Jays games in a long time .

    Noticed Arencibia had 21 ABs in spring , with 3 homers , then 2 homers in 5 ABs Sat .

    Along with his 31 in Vegas, maybe he deserves to be in Jays line-up as a regular , maybe at DH?

    - Chas
  13. 13.

    Great performance by Morrow who i personally think within 2 years is the ace of this rotation…and obviously Anthopoulos deserves alot of credit for stealing him from the Mariners for Brandon League (lol).

    The point i really wanted to make tho was what was Aaron Hill thinking on his defensive positioning on that 2 out hit ? Why was he playing Longoria so far up the middle when clearly most Rays hitters were behind on his stuff most of the day…

    I was watching as the ball went thru the right side and thinking why is Hill so far over left….

    Makes no sense to me why he was positioned like that and it definitely cost Morrow the no no,if he was positioned properly he gets to that ball and probably makes an easy play…

    If Alomar was at second,Morrow would have had his no hitter SMH

    - Michael
  14. 14.

    Do you know that MLB hitters have a historic .833 batting average against Blue Jay pitchers who have tossed 8.2 innings of no hit baseball.

    Four times Dave Stieb went 8.2 innings of no hit baseball, once Halladay and once Morrow.
    The conversion rate to complete game no hitter is only 1 out of 6 tries (Stieb).
    That means hitters are batting .833 against Jays pitchers who have gone 8.2 innings of no hit baseball.

    - Andre
  15. 15.

    Well, what a weekend for the Jays. Unfortunately, I missed both the bombing on Saturday and Morrow’s incredible game on Sunday. Hopefully, some excitement about this team is starting to build in Toronto.

    And why not? Since the All Star Break, the Jays are hitting .291 (2nd behind Minnesota’s .316) with a OPS of .868 (1st). The worst regular on the team in terms of OPS is YEscobar at .762. Overbay’s BA is worst at .250 for the regulars. Hill has fully returned and Lind is coming back to form while the remainder of the team continues to be very good, including notably Bautista, Overbay, and Encarnacion.

    Compare this to the 1st half where the team BA was .240 with an OPS of .745 with only Bautista hitting over the current .868 OPS.

    Pitching wise, since the break, Jays have an ERA of 3.14 (3rd best). Downs hasn’t let in an ER since June 6 (20 appearances). Gregg has been very good. Morrow continues to lead the league in K/9 at 10.7. Cecil, Romero, and Marcum all are mostly excellent and just require a few more consistent starts to be a phenomenal foursome. Still lacking is that fifth starter, but that’s okay.

    So now there’s a thought of the wild card. With the Jays 8 back of a spot and a very tough schedule that includes a tough road trip that includes a very hot Oakland, it is doubtful that it will happen with Minnesota or Chicago, Tampa, the Yankees, Boston and possibly Oakland in the mix. It feels sad to root for the Yankees but it would be great for the Yankees to dominate Boston and Tampa so that the Jays can make a move on them. Still, I think the next 15 games are key.

    - Tim
  16. 16.

    Here’s a question:
    What’s the batting average of hitters who come up with 2 outs in the 9th inning of a no-hitter?

    I’m sure it’s no different than the norm…but it sure feels like it.

    Against the Jays, opponents are hitting at least .800 in those situations… maybe it’s best to intentionally walk that guy…(ha).

    - Jacob Brumfield Jr.
  17. 17.

    I enjoyed the broadcast on 590, thanks Jerry and Alan, and I just reviewed your notes from the miked up wire. Entertaining.
    Just passed today a newspaper with comment from Dave Steib, something about, it will haunt you.
    Balderdash! He pitched a great game, and I hope he sleeps like a baby. Keep up the good work 590.

    - Barb
  18. 18.

    Mike.

    Brandon Morrow didn’t call all those first pitch breaking balls that went over for strikes and got him ahead in the count a number of times. Jose Molina also helped make adjustments, and called a fantastic game. Brandon Morrow pitched brilliantly and with electric stuff, but niether you nor JP Arencibia calls a near-no hitter yesterday. Sorry.

    - Patrick
  19. 19.

    Mike, any idea if the Jays will give Morrow a bit of extra rest due to the high pitch count? Similar to what the D’Backs did with Jackson after one of the worst no hitters of all time?

    - Bguyred
  20. 20.

    No matter how nice the past few days went, this is a rebuilding year. I understand not trading Buck because we can get a draft pick when he signs with another team. But what about the benefit of just getting something and forgetting about the draft pick and letting J.P play? Would we not be better in the next 3-5 years having him get all the extra at bats and playing time now instead of starting from scratch next year. I think this is one of very few missteps from this admin.

    - Scott
  21. 21.

    Hmmmmmm. Wonder if there’s any connection to Brandon Morrows incredible performance and the housecleaning the Mariners had on Monday. I’m sure it’s all a coincidence, but I’m also sure some folks in Seattle gotta be seething. Always easier to make the manager and coaches look incompetent than the GM blame himself.

    - Jim in Ohio
  22. 22.

    Mike,

    2 questions about draft picks and signing bonuses. If a draft pick signs for say, $1 million bonus, does the player get that upfront or is it spread out over the life of the contract or a number of installments? Second, When teams trade for prospects, do they have to pay for part of the bonus originally signed?

    With Downs being a Type A player and being able to fetch 2 high draft picks if he signs elsewhere (when the Jays offer arbitration), it’s an interesting case if the Jays were to trade Downs instead for similar picks. Reason being, those two top picks could fetch something like $2 million combined and if the Jays trade for similar level/quality of prospects instead, they save some or all of the $2 million bonus and get guys who have played at least half a season in the minors rather than fresh out of college/high school. It would seem like much less of a crap shoot or gamble this way.

    - JT
  23. 23.

    If the replace Cito for next season. I hope they keep Dwayne Murphy as the hitting coach.

    - Doug
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