4:00 PM Eastern
The Blue Jays took the field at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium (hereafter to be known as The FAES) to take on…..themselves, in the first of two intra-squad games before the real fake season starts on Saturday afternoon with Brett Cecil on the mound against the Tigers (we’re on the air at 12:30 PM Eastern! Woo-hoo!).
It was a 5 1/2 inning game dominated by pitching, with only five hits overall. Both Ricky Romero and Zach Stewart pitched two perfect innings, with Romero disappointed by the fact it took him 28 pitches and Stewart garnering rave reviews for his efficiency, control, strong sinker and the way his ball moves.
Kyle Drabek, who took the mound during infield practice with a bubblegum bubble stuck to his cap, needed only nine pitches to get through his 1-2-3 inning that included a strikeout of J.P. Arencibia on back-to-back 94 mile-an-hour fastballs.
Speaking of infield practice, which was back at the Bobby Mattick complex this morning, it was a real treat to see Arencibia, Jose Bautista, Yunel Escobar and Edwin Encarnacion on the field taking ground balls from Luis Rivera. The pace was quick, the smiles were huge, and they were all screaming in Spanish and laughing pretty much the whole time. I’m not sure if Adam Lind, Aaron Hill and John McDonald felt left out, but it really was something to see.
Back to the game – Jose Molina scored the game’s first run, teaching a couple of young players some valuable lessons in the process. Molina hit a slow roller to short on which Adeiny Hechevarria came charging in, making a nice play on his backhand on the run. Without realizing who was running, though, Hechevarria made a quick, rushed throw from a terrible angle and it wound up about 10 feet over the head of first baseman David Cooper. The young Cuban had all kinds of time to stop, get set and make a good throw, but only because it was Molina running – a fact of which Hechevarria was, apparently, not aware.
The other lesson was taught to Anthony Gose, who caught a shallow fly to centre off the bat of Yunel Escobar after Rajai Davis had singled. When Gose caught the ball, Molina tagged up, and did a little two- or three-step decoy, the harmless type that almost never leads to anything – but when Gose didn’t throw, Molina kept going, and wound up safe at third as Gose’s eventual throw was off the bag and had to be short-hopped by Brett Lawrie. Molina then scored on a groundout by Bautista.
Speaking of Lawrie, he made the defensive play of the game, charging hard in and towards the line, scooping up the ball and throwing a bullet in one motion to nail the very speedy Rajai Davis at first.
Adam Lind passed all the tests at first base, even recovering very nicely from bobbling a grounder off the bat of Eric Thames. Lind kept the ball in front of him, didn’t panic or hurry, and fed Joel Carreno for the out.
Corey Patterson took Alan Farina deep in the 5th for the game’s only homer, and Mystery Minor Leaguer Matt Nuzzo followed with a double off the right-field wall – he later scored as Davis reached on a Lawrie fielding error for the 3-0 final, favour of the Black Team.
After the game, I went into the clubhouse and got comments from John Farrell, Ricky Romero, Zach Stewart, Corey Patterson and A.J. Jimenez, who threw out Davis trying to steal in the 5th. Here it is, compiled for your listening pleasure:
Having jumped into the Twitterverse, I was happy to twoot the play-by-play of the game, and will do so again tomorrow as we do Black versus Gray once again. But only intra-squad games.
Part of the whole Twitter thing seems also to be re-tweeting and answering questions from you, my fine followers @InTheWilnerness. Generally I’m going to try to take advantage of the 3 1/2 mile walking path where I’m staying, and over the course of those walks most (every?) evening, I’ll be on Twitter and we can interact that way!
Comments are welcome, as always, and this season I’m going to try to get back into the habit of answering them!