12:18 AM Eastern
Brett Cecil capped a wonderful day for the Blue Jays and for baseball fans all across Canada by completely dominating the Rangers in their own backyard and in so doing, beating back the Texas brooms and getting the Jays back to the .500 mark.
Cecil threw his first career complete-game shutout, recording outs in the 9th inning for the first time in the big leagues, and he was pretty ridiculous. Cecil allowed only one runner past first base all night and half the hits he the Rangers managed went less than 50 feet. He walked two and struck out seven, the last of which ended the game on his 121st pitch of the night – which was also a career-high.
In his last start, Cecil allowed five runs in the first two innings to the struggling Seattle Mariners, and as Cecil sat in the dugout after the second inning, John Farrell came over and not-so-gently told Cecil to get his, umm, “stuff” together. Since that exceedingly one-sided conversation, Cecil has thrown 14 innings of six-hit shutout.
Cecil got offensive support in only one inning, but he made it stand up. Alexi Ogando matched him almost pitch-for-pitch through the first five, but gave up Yunel Escobar’s third hit of the night leading off the 6th, and an out later, Jose Bautista smacked the night’s first extra-base hit – a double to left-centre that scored Escobar. Back-to-back two-out doubles by Edwin Encarnacion and Travis Snider later in the inning made it 3-0, and that was more than Cecil would need.
After the game, the Jays announced that Carlos Villanueva is going to be bumped up to pitch on Thursday night, which means that Jo-Jo Reyes’ now-vacated spot moves all the way to next Saturday. That’s a pretty broad hint that Jesse Litsch is going to be called up to make that start, which to me is the right thing to do.
Here’s tonight’s edition of The JaysTalk, for your listening pleasure:
There was much more than just a ballgame for Blue Jays fans, though. While eyes and ears were focused on Arlington, Texas, hearts were thousands of miles north and east, as Pat Gillick and Roberto Alomar were inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York. The greatest General Manager of all-time and arguably the best second baseman of all-time, and both went into the Hall as Blue Jays.
Gillick was the Jays’ GM from 1978-94, through the formative years and the glory years. It’s impossible to properly credit Gillick enough for the great Jays teams – he did the drafting and the trading and signed the free agents that helped the Jays win a pair of whole shebangs in a row. Gillick’s greatest strength was that he surrounded himself with terrific baseball people, men like Al LaMacchia, Bobby Mattick and Mel Queen, all three of whom he singled out in a wonderful, emotional speech (which you can find in the audio on demand section of this very website).
Alomar came over to the Jays after the 1990, in one of the most spectacular trades of all-time. He was the least known of the foursome that included bubble Hall of Famers Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez and World Series hero Joe Carter, and wound up being the best of the bunch. Alomar was a Blue Jay for only five years, but they were a pretty impressive five years. In that short span of time, Alomar wowed Jays fans on a regular basis with spectacular defense at second base – making some plays that still can’t really be believed in looking back. He also hit what might have been the biggest home run in Jays’ history, and what Jays’ fan can forget Alomar doing the Tomahawk Chop as he trotted home from third base in the World Series against the Braves.
Stats-ically, Alomar had a 123 OPS+ as a Blue Jay, walked more than he struck out and stole 206 bases in 252 attempts for an 81.7% success rate. he was an all-star five times, won (and earned) five Gold Gloves and finished in the top six in MVP voting three times.
Alomar spoke about all the teams for which he played, but saved the Blue Jays for last. He is the first player in the Hall of Fame wearing a Blue Jay cap on his plaque and could not have been more proud. He specifically singled out Cito Gaston, his only manager as a Jay, for teaching him how to be a professional, and Jays’ President then and now, Paul Beeston, who he said was like a second father to him.
The ceremony in Cooperstown unleashed a flood of spectacular Blue Jays memories; reminders of how much fun it was to follow a team that put together 11 consecutive winning seasons. A team that finished more than two games out of first place only ONCE between 1985-93. One hopes the Jays are on their way back to that kind of prominence; they certainly appear to be on the right track.
The 2011 edition of the Blue Jays will get back at it on Tuesday night, opening up a six-game homestand with a visit from the Baltimore Orioles. The Jays have won each of Brandon Morrow’s last seven starts, and they’ll try to make it eight straight in the opener against O’s righty Jake Arrieta. We’ll be on the air at 7:00 PM Eastern with our full crew back together – join us, won’t you?
Please follow me on The Twitter, you can find me @wilnerness590. If you want to follow the author of the latest Blue Jays’ pitching masterpiece, Brett Cecil can be found @CEC0208.
Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome!