11:43 PM Eastern
Before you read the rest of what’s certain to be a riveting, informative and entertaining blog post, please go to www.facebook.com/baseballhall and cast a vote for Tom Cheek to win the Ford C. Frick Award for Broadcasting Excellence, gaining him entry into the Broadcasters’ Wing of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Tom was the Blue Jays’ lead broadcaster from Day 1, April 7, 1977, and didn’t miss a single game until his father died in June of 2004. 4,036 consecutive games – plus pre-season and post-season. A week after returning from his father’s funeral, Tom was diagnosed with brain cancer and he passed away 18 months later, far too early.
Cheek was the voice of summer in Canada for 28 years. Chances are very good that if you heard him, you loved him. If you never heard him do a game, odds are you’ve at least heard the great “Touch ‘Em All, Joe” call that ended the 1993 World Series. Please make your voice heard and let the decision-makers know how much Tom meant to you, to all Blue Jays fans and to an entire nation.
You can vote by, again, going to www.facebook.com/baseballhall and once you’re there, clicking on the wall (that link is on the left-hand side of the page) and scrolling down on the wall until you see the poll question about the Ford C. Frick Award. You’re allowed to vote once a day each day throughout the month of September. Thank you.
Now, about the game…..
This was the Blue Jays beating the Red Sox at their own game. For Boston it’s all about patience, grinding out at-bats, getting into hitters’ counts, taking the walk if need be, and that’s exactly what the Jays did in the bottom of the 8th inning in coming back from 8-6 down.
Luckily for the Jays, the Red Sox’ bullpen did their best impression of how the Jays’ ‘pen has looked all too often this season.
Daniel Bard hit a man and walked three in that 8th inning, allowing only one hit in facing seven batters. That hit just happened to be Adam Loewen’s first in the major leagues – a ground ball to right field just out of the reach of Adrian Gonzalez, who was holding Brett Lawrie on first base.
J.P. Arencibia – who had earlier hit a two-run homer to establish a Blue Jays record for home runs by a catcher in a single season with 21 – followed the Loewen hit by drawing a walk, and the Jays had the bases loaded with nobody out, down a pair. That was when Bard seemed to steel himself. He struck out an overmatched Dewayne Wise on three pitches, then caught Yunel Escobar looking on a gorgeous 3-2 slider. When Bard got ahead of Eric Thames 0-2, it appeared as though the Jays were set to waste a golden opportunity to at least tie the game.
But Thames fouled off a pitch, took a ball in the dirt and then – in a very out-of-character move – didn’t offer at a high fastball. Taking that pitch changed the dynamic of the plate appearance, and three pitches later, Thames was on first with a free pass and Lawrie had scored to get the Jays back within a run. Bard then threw one strike to Jose Bautista in five tries, missing badly with the 3-1 offering, to force in a second straight Canadian – Loewen – with the tying run. That was it for Bard, and Matt Albers came in to take Edwin Encarnacion to a full count before Edwin ripped one into the gap in right-centre to clear the bases and give the Jays an 11-8 lead.
For Encarnacion, it capped a 2-for-4 game in which he tied his career high with five RBIs. The double was his 34th of the season, putting him just outside the top 10 in the American League.
The three runs were exactly what the doctor ordered, as Frank Francisco worked his first nervous frame in a long while. Gonzalez took him deep to open the 9th – the first time Mr. McFrankFrank had been scored upon in 16 appearances – and the Sox cashed another on a two-out RBI single by Marco Scutaro. But Mike Aviles, who pinch-ran for Scutaro, was thrown out trying to steal second by Jose Molina to end the game with Francisco just having missed with an 0-2 pitch.
Francisco had allowed just one run since the all-star break, a total of 18 appearances covering 19 1/3 innings, before giving up the two in this one. But the Red Sox needed three to tie.
Four Jays were hit by a pitch in the game – Loewen, Bautista and Thames were all nailed by Wakefield before Lawrie got dinged in the 8th – and that tied a club record. It had happened twice before, the first time on Opening Day 2002 (my first game in the booth!), also against the Red Sox, when Pedro Martinez drilled Shannon Stewart and Carlos Delgado, Darren Oliver got Delgado and Rolando Arrojo nipped Homer Bush. The other occurrence was June 19, 2003 in Baltimore. Pat Hengten got Delgado and Orlando Hudson while Rick Helling nailed Delgado and Frank Catalanotto.
The Blue Jays have won all three games in which they’ve had four batters hit by a pitch.
They’ve also won every game in which they’ve had two Canadian-born position players in the starting line-up. That would be a grand total of one game.
Here’s tonight’s brief edition of The JaysTalk, for your listening pleasure:
The series wraps up Thursday night with the Blue Jays guaranteed at least a split and having the opportunity to take three of four despite having been outscored 24-12 over the first three games. Ricky Romero would love to shake a big monkey off his back as he gets the start against fellow lefty Andrew Miller. The Red Sox have had Romero’s number to this point in his young career – he’s 2-6 against them with an ugly ERA of 8.08 and uglier WHIP of 2.18. The Sox have hit .357/.447/.584 against him so far. Romero is coming off a loss in New York in which he was pulled in the bottom of the 7th with two on, two out and a one-run lead – the first game in which he’s taken the loss as a result of a bullpen failure. He’d like nothing more than to come out and shove it up Boston’s red sox and get the Jays a series win. We’ll be on the air at 7:00 PM Eastern – join us, won’t you?
Please give me a follow on The Twitter, you can find me @wilnerness590. Please also follow @VoteTomCheek and @jaysthis week – Ben Ennis and I recorded a new podcast, it’s up on this very website for your enjoyment.
Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome!