The Blue Jays must have known that I had a sim-geek-league rookie draft to get to tonight, because they took down the Phillies in a crisp two hours and seven minutes.
Brandon Morrow walked two and allowed a ground single in his five innings of work, striking out only one while getting seven ground ball outs and three infield pop-ups. His fastball control left him in the second inning, when he issued both walks and only seven of the 19 pitches he threw were strikes, but scathe-wise, he emerged from that frame relatively un, and went on to retire nine straight Philbos at one point. His pitch count was low – about 60 for the five innings of work – so much so that he had to go to the bullpen after he was done and throw 15 more.
It’s been quite the spring for Morrow, who is so far doing a very good job transforming himself from thrower to pitcher. That might not be good news for people in fantasy leagues who pick him up in order to jack their strikeout totals, but it seems to be good news for everyone else.
Here’s what the trying-to-get-to-be-Halladayesque righty had to say after the game:
Morrow and Clifton Phifer Lee engaged in a nice little pitchers’ duel, with Lee striking out seven without a walk over his six innings of five-hitter, but Lee was the one who blinked. The Philly lefty got lucky in the first inning when Kelly Johnson led off with a single and stole second, but then didn’t score on Jose Bautista’s double off the right-field wall. Either Johnson read the ball poorly or it carried a lot more than he thought it would, but KJ was at second tagging up on the play, so he could only manage to get to third. The Phils’ outfielders just assumed he would score, and the throw came into second base. Strikeouts by Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion got Lee out of that jam.
Bautista doubled again his next time up, in the 4th – this time a laserbeam off the left-field wall that seemed to take less than a second to get there. He daringly stole third and this time, Lind drove him in. Lind’s third RBI of the spring came on a bouncer that got through the right side of the infield for a base hit.
The Jays’ other run came in the 8th, when Travis Snider came off the bench and drilled a hard line drive to straightaway centrefield that Scott Podsednik just plain dropped. Johnson followed with a double down the right field line to score him.
Snider was 0-for-1 with that scorched liner, Eric Thames got the start and went 0-for-3 with a hard-hit fly ball to left, a pop foul and a strikeout. Thames also threw his glove in the ring as The Battle For Left Field(TM) rages on. He made a really nice running catch of a hot shot by Ty Wigginton that seemed ticketed for the gap in left-centre.
Darren Oliver and Jason Frasor each threw a perfect inning of relief behind Morrow and Carlos Villanueva to finish things up.
For the second straight game in which they’ve both played, John Farrell has had Yunel Escobar and Kelly Johnson flipped at the top of the line-up, with Johnson leading off. I like the idea, as I mentioned a couple of days ago. The move mitigates Johnson’s strikeouts to an extent, and even with them, he’s capable of getting on base at a high rate. Escobar is a very solid hit-and-run man to go with all the other positives he provides at the plate. Yes, it has the Jays stacking righties at the top of the line-up a bit, which makes it even more difficult to move Adam Lind out of the clean-up spot should that be required, but both Escobar and Bautista are guys who can hit right-handed pitching just fine. I don’t know if that set-up is one they’ll continue to use, but I hope they give it a real shot.
John Farrell spoke about that, as well as about Morrow, after the game:
Before the game, Alex Anthopoulos held court with the media, and touched on several subjects. Included among them was the idea that Travis Snider might make this team as the centrefielder, pushing Colby Rasmus aside. The General Manager’s response to that was “Zero chance.” We also discussed yesterday’s firestorm on The Twitter brought about by my disagreeing with the notion that Adam Lind has been one of the very worst hitters in baseball the last two years – Anthopoulos says that he believes in Lind because he’s won batting titles in the minors and has “always hit”, and because of 2009 and the first half of last season, but he does believe this is a “big year” for Lind as far s proving himself goes. He also said that since the Blue Jays won’t need a 5th starter the first time through the rotation, the winner of that job (likely Dustin McGowan) will remain in Florida to get another start in. If it’s McGowan, though, the Jays wouldn’t be able to manipulate the roster to add another player in the interim, because he’s out of options and can’t be sent down.
Here’s most of what Anthopoulos had to say – I had to switch batteries mid-stream:
The Blue Jays hit the road to Port Charlotte Friday night to take on the Tampa Bay Rays. Brett Cecil will get the start against David Price, and he’s expected to throw five innings. Drew Hutchison is scheduled to take the next three, The rest of the travel squad for that game is as follows: Drew Carpenter, Jesse Chavez, Robert Coello, Yan Gomes, Jeff Mathis, David Cooper, Jonathan Diaz, Edwin Encarnacion, Mike McCoy, Luis Valbuena, Chris Woodward, Rajai Davis, Ben Francisco, Anthony Gose, Travis Snider, Eric Thames, Ruben Gotay, Brian Bocock, John Tolisano, Ricardo Nanita and Brian Jeroloman.
I won’t be at that game, since there’s a Sportsnet590 The Fan event around here tomorrow night.
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