6:12 PM Eastern
It’s beginning to get unfair already.
The Blue Jays continue to cut a swath through their opposition, laying a pounding on the Atlanta Braves Saturday afternoon in which the score would have been the same had the interlopers from Disneyworld not even bothered to show up at all.
The Jays have won six in a row, and 16 of 18, and this one came courtesy the good right arm of Henderson Alvarez and the strong bats of Adam Lind and Kelly Johnson.
Alvarez was brilliant over his five innings, allowing just one hit – a line-drive single up the middle by Freddie Freeman on Alvarez’ only 3-0 pitch of the day – striking out four and not issuing a base on balls. Basically two of every three of his 61 pitches were strikes and he worked quickly and confidently, aggressively attacking the strike zone. He spoke to us afterwards, through a translator (one of the Spanish reporters who was covering the game), and was very pleased with his outing. He felt fuerte afterwards, which is very good to hear. Here’s the whole thing, for your listening pleasure:
Lind had a terrific game, going 2-for-3 with his first home run of the spring, a triple and a walk. The homer came on the 10th pitch of his second at-bat, after he’d fouled off five pitches in a row, and the walk was a 10-pitch plate appearance, too. The triple was a high fly ball deep into the right field corner that Braves rightfielder Matt Diaz never saw even for a second. It hit at the base of the wall, less than a foot fair, and Lind was able to easily cruise into third. It was great to see Lind get deep into some at-bats and see a whole big whack of pitches – it’s something he seems to have been struggling with, the whole “controlled aggression” thing. It’s a change from what Cito Gaston wanted from him, which was the approach with which he had his most success.
Here’s what Lind had to say about his day:
Kelly Johnson also swung a big stick, his three-run double was the big blow in the Blue Jays’ five-run fourth off Randall Delgado, and Eric Thames was 2-for-3 with a ringing double off the wall in dead centre. Thames also made a really nice running catch on an Eric Hinske drive that was tailing away from him into the left-field corner. He’s raised his spring numbers to .349/.396/.535. Here’s my conversation with Thames after he came out of the game:
Travis Snider was the DH and went 0-for-3, though his double-play grounder in the 4th was misplayed by Braves’ second baseman Josh Wilson and opened the door to the big inning. Snider has cooled off as of late, but is still hitting .283/.353/.652 and leading Thames by a few points of OPS. The Battle For Left Field (TM) is likely to continue right to the end of the spring, but the Blue Jays’ brass continues to insist that Thames’ incumbency has given him the leg up in the fight, and there continues to be no reason not to believe them, despite Snider’s better speed, defense and higher ceiling.
We saw an inning from Sergio Santos – he pitched a shutout 6th, striking out a pair while walking one and giving up a broken-bat double that just eluded a diving Lind at first. It was only Santos’ third appearance of the spring – he’s been doing a lot of work in bullpens and minor-league games developing his change-up. He seemed to be very happy with where he is, and expects to be getting a lot more work in Grapefruit League games to come. Here, listen for yourself:
Darren Oliver, Casey Janssen and Francisco Cordero finished up with a combined three innings of one-hitter.
Every Blue Jays starter either scored a run or drove one in, with the exception of Colby Rasmus, but Rasmus beat out an infield single in the second and was spectacularly robbed of a double that would likely have driven in two by Freddie Freeman, who simply stuck his glove up high and had Rasmus’ rocket of a line drive catch him.
We had a little bit of JaysTalk after the game, time for just three calls, and here it is, for your listening pleasure:
Friday night, the Jays scored four with two out in the ninth inning against the Rays – their second four-run 9th in three days – and overcame a rough Brett Cecil start to beat T-Bay. Cecil walked five in his 2 1/3 innings of work, allowing four runs on four hits. Since no reporters went down to Port Charlotte to cover the game, Cecil made himself available to the media before Saturday’s action, and here’s what he had to say about his rough night:
The Blue Jays are back at it Sunday afternoon, with the Red Sox making the long trip up to Dunedin. Aaron Laffey will get the start – he had a very good five innings against the Bosox down in Fort Myers on Tuesday night and starts again because Dustin McGowan will throw five innings in a minor-league game. If McGowan makes the team as the fifth starter, as expected, his first start of the regular season will be against Boston, so there’s no need to expose him to the Red Sox this late in the spring. Brett Lawrie is expected to play in the game – it’ll be his first action since suffering a mild hamstring strain on March 16th. We’ll have the game for you across the Blue Jays Radio Network starting with the pre-game at 12:30PM Eastern – make sure you tune us in!
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