5:25 PM Eastern

The Blue Jays fell back to .500 and dropped to 1-4 on the current homestand with a second straight loss to the Rays and third straight loss overall, but there were more than a few highlights on the losing side.

The game really turned in the 7th inning, when Jesse Litsch came in to hold the Rays’ lead at 3-2, but Jesse had his first poor outing since being moved to the bullpen.  Litsch walked two in a row around a groundout and a strikeout, and his first pitch after what appeared to have been a big K got taken way out of the yard in a hurry by B.J. Upton to blow the game open.

Litsch had allowed seven hits and three walks in his 15 1/3 innings of work since being moved to the bullpen, striking out 17 – that’s a WHIP of 0.652.  Opponents were hitting .143/.189/.306 against him, so I guess he’s entitled to a bad outing – it was his third time working in four days, as well.

The Jays got  back to within one as Brett Lawrie tripled in the 7th and scored on a J.P. Arencibia groundout, and Eric Thames (on a 9th pitch after falling behind 0-2; fantastic at-bat) and Edwin Encarnacion went deep in the 8th, but that was as close as they would come.

That RBI groundout by Arencibia was part of a big day for the rookie catcher – he also doubled in a run in the 4th to tie the game 2-2 and threw out three Rays baserunners who were trying to steal. Arencibia nailed Upton and Elliott Johnson at second and Sean Rodriguez trying to take third.

Rodriguez may well have been safe on that stolen base attempt, but he may well have been out the inning previous, when Bill Welke called him safe on a play on which an out call would have been the Blue Jays’ first triple play since 1979.  Shawn Camp came on to work the 6th and hit Upton with a pitch, then gave up a single to Rodriguez to put runners on first and second with nobody out.  Kelly Shoppach was sent up to bunt the runners over in what was a tie game, and he bunted it too hard back towards the mound.  Camp pounced on the ball and threw to third, where Brett Lawrie had to reach up to snare the high throw.  Lawrie held onto the bag, then threw to first to double up Shoppach as Rodriguez rounded second and raced to third.  Kelly Johnson, who was covering at first, threw back to third and Rodriguez slid into the bag, safe by an eyelash according to Welke.  Replays may have disagreed.

Every Blue Jays fan remembers the last time the team turned a triple play that wasn’t – thank you very much, Bob Davidson – when the call was missed on Kelly Gruber’s tag of Deion Sanders to complete the triplet-killing against the Braves in Game 3 of the 1992 World Series.  But the last time the Jays actually turned a triple play that counted was all the way back on September 21, 1979 against the Yankees.  Damaso Garcia, who would be traded to the Jays that winter, lined into a 4-3-6 triple play turned by Dave McKay, Craig Kusick and Alfredo Griffin.  That was the third triple play turned by the Jays within 16 months, and they haven’t turned one since.

And speaking of triples in general – the one Lawrie hit in the 7th inning was his fourth so far in what’s been a 21-game big-league career.  That would put him on pace to hit 31 three-baggers over a full season; the Blue Jays’ record is 17, set by Tony Fernandez in 1990.

It was a brief, but spectacular edition of The JaysTalk, and here it is, for your listening pleasure:

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The series continues Sunday afternoon with Brandon Morrow trying to bounce back from a rough outing against the Royals and with the Blue Jays trying to beat David Price for the second time ever, and also for the second straight time.  We’ll be on at 12:30 PM Eastern for a 1:07 first pitch – join us, won’t you?

Please give me a follow on The Twitter – you can find me at www.twitter.com/wilnerness590

Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome!

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7 Responses to “Plenty Of Silver Lining”
  1. 1.

    This team was 64-60 on 18 August ’11. From August 19 until today the team went 2-6 and not everything works. What happened on the 19th?

    MW: They lost 5-1 in Oakland, then got shut out the next day.

    - Richard Spackman
  2. 2.

    Hi Mike

    Looking at the year, the jays starting pitching failed to last past the 7th inning. Even Morrow, he often exit after the 6th. The priority next year is for the pitcher to pitch efficiently so that the bullpen is not taxed. The bullpen as I recalled was one of the best in the early months, but slowly degraded due to overuse.

    Thoughts?

    MW: I don’t agree – not with the fact that the Jays don’t have a lot of pitchers who throw into the 8th and beyond, but with the fact that it has cost the bullpen. The bullpen has been almost completely overhauled from the start of the season to now.

    - francis
  3. 3.

    As President of the Travis Snider Fan Club, did you have to bite your tounge when saying something positive about Eric Thames?

    MW: Not at all, and you’re really embarrassing yourself with that assertion.

    - Jay Rule
  4. 4.

    Mike im really curious how you grade these 3 players and what updide they have and will the two pitchers be in starting rotation 2012 Henderson Alvarez,louis perez and kelly johnson. also where do you see kyle drabek pitching in 2012

    MW: I think Drabek will spend more of 2012 with the Blue Jays than anywhere else, but my crystal ball is in the shop. I love Alvarez’ stuff, and his poise at his age is incredible. Perez has impressed me a great deal, and Johnson is an established guy with an established good year-bad year pattern.

    - david mackin
  5. 5.

    mike,

    love the job you do as it is greatly appreciated living here in NYC.

    I know it is a common practice to work in a young player into the line-up but sometimes you can make exeptions when you have great talent. The jays have a great TALENT in Lawrie. sometimes a middle of the order bat is a MIDDLE OF THE ORDER BAT, we all dont learn at the same pace put him no lower than 5th next year and let it ride. Thoughts

    MW: I have no doubt that next year Lawrie will be hitting in a very high-leverage spot in the batting order. I’d say either second or fifth.

    - corie j
  6. 6.

    Despite all the warm feelings surrounding Encarnacion’s recent performance, is this cause next year for taking at bats away from Snider or Thames? Given the direction of the team it seems these two would benefit from a LF/DH combination with Snider getting most of the starts in left.

    MW: Encarnacion has been the best bat of the three so far, though, and he’s only 28. He deserves a look, too.

    - Will
  7. 7.

    Hi Mike,

    I think I’ve got an answer for Richard Spackman (the gentleman who asked a question on the first response.)

    I called in to the Jays Talk praising the offense on being exciting to watch and they took a real nose-dive right after that.

    If I get a chance tomorrow, I’ll call in and complain about how terrible the offense is and maybe the Jays will start hitting really well following that.

    Mike, you do a tremendous job and I’ve finally starting listening to the Jays this Week podcast and it is a lot of fun! Until recently, I had assumed that the podcast was a collection of interviews with players and coaches and maybe highlites of the Jays Talk… I had no idea it was something new on top of everything else you do. (My wife wants to know how you have time to play in a rec ball league with all the work you do.)

    Keep up the great work Mike, and I’ll try not to jinx the Jays in the future.

    Wouldn’t it be nice to have that kind of power, where all it would take is for me to insult the Jays and then they started winning all the time?

    MW: It would be great! Many people seem to assume that I have that kind of power, but very obviously it’s all in your hands.

    - Eric C
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