4:53 PM Eastern
Of course they will!
Two games into spring training without the Blue Jays having scored a run may cause some panic among a certain segment of fandom, but really it doesn’t mean a single thing. It’s an old saw that the pitchers are ahead of the hitters in the early part of Spring Training, but what it really is is just dumb luck at this point. Heck, they’ll probably score seven runs of Roy Halladay tomorrow.
The only run of the ballgame, off Henderson Alvarez in the 6th, was unearned. Detroit’s ninth hitter, Andy Dirks, reached on an infield single and DJ Will Rhymes came up intending to bunt him over to second. The bunt was too short, though, dropping right in front of the plate and giving Jose Molina a brilliant opportunity to take care of the lead runner. But Molina’s throw was wild and bounced into centrefield, moving Dirks to third, from whence he scored on a sacrifice fly by Victor Martinez.
That was it.
Marc Rzepczynski made a strong statement in the competition for one of the final rotation spots, throwing two perfect innings, 30 pitches, 20 strikes. He struck out a pair, including lefty-killer Martinez, got a pop-up and a ground ball and gave up a well hit fly ball each to Magglio Ordonez and Ryan Strieby, both caught for outs.
Jesse Litsch followed, and while he wasn’t as impressive (he allowed a soft line single to Don Kelly), he pitched pretty well his own self. After starting off by giving up that base hit, Litsch retired the next six hitters he faced – two ground balls, two fly balls (one of which, by Martinez, was caught by Moises Sierra at the base of the wall in right),a pop-up and a strikeout of Magglio Ordonez.
Rzepczynski and Litsch are in a pitched battle for one of the final two spots in the rotation, along with Kyle Drabek, Scott Richmond, Jo-Jo Reyes, Robert Ray and maybe even Zach Stewart. I’d say Litsch and Drabek are the leaders at the moment, but Drabek’s stiff neck that got him scratched from tomorrow’s start may have something to say about that, though the Jays say he’s only going to miss one turn.
One defensive highlight away by which I’m still blown three hours later was a play made by Adeiny Hechevarria in the third. With a runner on first and nobody out, he was crowded up the middle, in double-play depth, and Audy Ciriaco hit a grounder into the hole to his right. It was a ball that most shortstops wouldn’t be able to get to, and almost all the ones who could get to it would have to take it on their backhand. But Hechevarria got such a great jump on the ball, and is so quick, that he was actually able to circle around it and pick up the ball with his glove between his legs, facing home plate. Just fantastic.
I spoke to Zep, Litsch and Molina – the gathered audio is here, for your listening pleasure:
Before the game, manager John Farrell regaled us with a couple of tales of his playing days, since he wrapped up his big-league career with the Tigers. In his final major-league start, while he says he was getting his tail kicked by the White Sox, Farrell felt something hit him in the arm and wondered if the fans had started throwing things at him. He looked down and saw that he’d received a gift from a seagull passing overhead – it had hit his cap and trickled down onto his arm.
By the way, he did get his tail kicked by the Sox, allowing five runs on six hits in only 1 1/3 innings, but he made one more start after that, losing to the Royals. I wonder if his memory has just combined both games – they were both pretty forgettable on his end, I’m thinking.
He also talked about stopping Paul Molitor’s 39-game hitting streak as a rookie in 1987. Molitor went 0-for-4 against Farrell that day in Milwaukee, as the Jays’ eventual skipper threw nine innings of three-hit shutout. But Farrell had help in ending the streak, because the Indians didn’t score, and Molitor was on deck in the bottom of the 10th when Rick Manning singled off reliever Doug Jones to drive in the winning run. The Brewers got a walk-off win, but they were booed by their own home fans!
Tomorrow, the Jays play a team other than Detroit for the first time this spring, taking on the Phillies at the FAES. Roy Halladay will start against Jo-Jo Reyes. Then it’s back here to Lakeland again on Tuesday. We won’t be broadcasting either of those games, so keep an eye on my twitter feed for updates @InTheWilnerness! I’ll be around tonight again, sometime between 7:00-9:00, not quite sure, going on my big 5-7 mile walk around the condo complex, so if anyone wants to do sort of a live chat over Twitter about the Jays, I’m happy to chat then.
The second edition of The JaysTalk in 2011 was terrific – so great to be talking baseball again – here it is for your listening pleasure:
I have to add this – on the way to the ballpark today I was listening to a radio station down here that was rebroadcasting an old Casey Kasem Top 40 countdown from some week in 1972. Man, the music people listened to back then was scary. Granted, there was some good stuff, like “Black Dog” by Led Zeppelin and “Mother and Child Reunion” by Paul Simon – heck, even “Brand New Key” by Melanie was a cute little song. But Joe Tex’s “I Gotcha” was downright disturbing, and the Chakachas’ big hit “Jungle Fever” really was just, well, it should have been on the soundtrack of an adult film. What were you thinking back then?
Ratonal, reasonable comments are always welcome – and I’m answering them!
Here’s today’s edition of the “Miked Up Live!”: