4:19PM Eastern

Ricky Romero and Jon Lester put on one heck of a show in the series finale at Roger Centre, and it was the home side that came out on top, with the difference in the game being the wheels of Rajai Davis.

Romero and Lester gave up only three hits each, with all of Romero’s coming over a span of four hitters in the third inning.  Singles by Cody Ross, Mike Aviles and Jacoby Ellsbury sandwiched around a failed bunt attempt by Kelly Shoppach gave the Red Sox an early one-run lead, but Ricky shut it down right there, retiring 17 straight Sox after the Ellsbury safety, taking that run all the way to the 9th inning.

The Jays answered Boston’s run with two of their own in the third.  Eric Thames, a bit of a surprise starter against the lefty, singled to start the inning, moved to second on a wild pitch and then scored easily as Davis legged out an RBI triple on a ball hit down the right-field line.  Yunel Escobar cashed Davis with a fly ball to medium-deep right field, and after a walk to Kelly Johnson, Lester went on a run of his own that saw him set down 15 Blue Jays in a row.

That run took Lester to two outs in the bottom of the 8th, with the Blue Jays leading 2-1, and it ended when he walked Davis.  Knowing Rajai was likely to try to steal second, Lester threw over to first base immediately and Davis was on the move.  He should have been dead to rights, but Boston first baseman Adrian Gonzalez bounced his throw to second, which gave Davis enough room to slide safely into second, from whence he scored as Escobar came through with a clutch single to centre.

Having thrown only 90 pitches, and on one heck of a roll, Romero came back out for the 9th to try for the complete game win, but Ricky lost the plate.  He walked the first two hitters of the inning on just nine pitches – the only free passes he’d allow all day – but stayed in to get Gonzalez to fly to centre.  The ball was deep enough, though, that both runners were able to move up, giving Boston men on second and third and one out, trailing by two.

That was when John Farrell came out to get his closer, Sergio Santos, and his faith was rewarded.  In just about the toughest save situation possible – having to face Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz with the tying run on second base – Santos was terrific.  He jumped ahead of Youkilis with two quick strikes before eventually getting him to chase a slider down and away, then got Ortiz to ground out harmlessly to short to end it.

It was Santos’ first save as a Blue Jay – though it would have been his second if Luis Perez hadn’t stolen a save opportunity from him in the season opener – and it showed just what a prize the Jays dealt for back in December.  He won’t be perfect, very few have been over a full season, but he’ll close out far, far more games than he doesn’t.  And, it should be mentioned, the Blue Jays are now 3-1 in the four games in which Santos has pitched.

And as I write this, Santos is speeding to the airport to spend the off-day attending the birth of his third child, so the heartiest of mazel tovs to him and his!

It being a weekday day game, there was no real BlueJaysTalk, though I was happy to sit in with Tim and Sid for a couple of segments on our flagship station Sportsnet590 The Fan until we were derailed by technical issues.  We’ll have time to do it up right after the opener with Baltimore on Friday night.

Speaking of which, the Jays have Thursday off and will welcome the Orioles for a three-game set beginning on Friday, with Brandon Morrow facing Tommy Hunter (not THAT Tommy Hunter), and we’ll have it all for you along the Blue Jays Radio Network beginning at 7:00PM Eastern.  Both Morrow and Hunter were brilliant in their season-opening starts; Morrow going seven innings of one-hitter without allowing an earned run in Cleveland, Hunter also not giving up an earned run over seven innings of work in Minnesota, though he did give up six hits.  Strangely, they both allowed a pair of unearned runs.

Please give me a follow on The Twitter – you can find me @wilnerness590!  Ricky Romero hangs out there as well, and he can be found @RickyRo24.

Comments are welcome – I read them all and respond to most!

 

20 Responses to “Pitching Personified”
  1. 1.

    Mike, do you know what the attendance was today? What is the point of these weekday afternoon games, especially when it’s not summer? I’d have to imagine they’d get more attendance at night, considering most people can’t even watch because they have work or school.

    MW: The attendance was 25,285 – it’s easy to find just by looking at any boxscore of the game online. Weekday day game generally happen because of ease of travel for either or both of the teams. That wasn’t the case Wednesday afternoon, I wonder if the motive wasn’t “why not?” since generally the second and third home games of the season don’t draw particularly well.

    - JackO
  2. 2.

    Hey Mike
    Good to see Rick get the win in his duel against Lester. It seems that in the past few seasons, all too often Romero has got pounded in starts against the Bo Sox (in particular those versus Lester). So it was good to see him and the club pick up a win. Lets hope that games like these are signs that this years Blue Jays are the team which we have all been waiting for, and wins like this will continue to follow. Cheers, and keep the insightful blogs coming.

    - Jamie C.
  3. 3.

    Mike,

    2.81 runs allowed per 9 innings so far this year!

    That is one impressive stat and that will win you a lot of games!!

    There is a lot of reasons to be optimistic about this edition of the Jays so far. Our bat has not be particularly hot and we have been winning without Bautista but we are getting some key hits in clutch situations. Once our hitters get on track, there likely won’t be as much negativity towards Santos as the Jays are good enough to win comfortably on most nights (Hopefully!).

    With great pitching and terrific defence, we are seeing a whole different team this year compared to last. Pitching and defence requires a lot more mental sharpness in my opinion compared to offence. So far, we are seeing a lot of great plays from our the team including JP catching 17 innings and making some key plays to Rasmus/Lawrie and company.

    It’s very easy to lose focus on the defensive end, but so far so good, the bat will come around, but it’s the attitude and the hard work the Jays are showing that’s given them the early success.

    Like I said in my previous posts, I truly believe Alvarez is the real deal and the 3rd starter we need to give us the big three. He has top of the rotation stuff!

    Quick question for you Mike, do you prefer the new blue or white jersey?

    MW: I like them both a lot, but I think I’d pick the white if I were forced to choose.

    - Antony
  4. 4.

    Just a quick comment to note that you still have the old logo on your blog page.

    - DD
  5. 5.

    Great team. Now if they would just paint the overhang outside the RC it would help. The rust make the place look like buffalo.

    - adam
  6. 6.

    Hey Mike,

    I asked you after the opener if you thought Rasmus looked lost at the dish… Having missed seeing the first 10 innings, I missed his hard hit balls. Since then, I’ve been impressed with Mr. Rasmus. In the field, he’s been stellar. Hitting- The average doesn’t show it, but he’s hitting the ball hard and contributing where he can. A few seeing eye singles and other Crash Davis hit phrases from a good average that drops any questions.
    Given Rajai’s performance today and so far this season (with exception of pop-up bunt fiasco from opening night), do you see him being rewarded with a few more starts?
    I’m pumped from what I’ve seen and heard so far this season with the Jays and am giddy with anticipation for the offence to start clicking… Who would’ve thought that 3 hits vs the Red Sox would give a 3-1 win… I love it!!!!
    Almost forgot… I heard Snider dove into a bag and jammed his finger and has been out since. Do you have any word on the severity?

    MW: Snider is already back from that finger injury, it was very minor. As for Davis, I continue to believe that he’ll start against most (if not all) left-handed pitchers and will wind up being a very important weapon for the Blue Jays this year.

    - Ted
  7. 7.

    Hi Mike,

    I cannot say enough about how much of a weapon Rajai Davis has been early in this season. His speed is so valuable, especially late in games when he has gotten key stolen bases which have led to important runs. The question has always been Rajai’s abilty to get on base. If he can do it more consistently, he is flat out disruptive on the bases. A tremendous weapon off the bench and in starts against a tough lefty

    As for Colby Rasmus, I know some have gotten down on him for his lack of offense since he arrived in Toronto, but I really like this kid and I am pulling for him. He provides excellent defense in CF and I truly believe he will hit. He has such an nice, easy, fluid swing. I think he will be fine. He is a favourite of mine along with my guy Ricky Romero.

    I am so happy to see Sergio Santos nail it down in a very tough situation. His slider was nasty today. I know he has probably been too amped up in games. He has only been pitching 2 years and he finds himself as the closer for a new team. I am assuming Cordero will close while Sergio os away for the birth of his child?

    MW: Yes, that’s the plan.

    - Charlie Harper
  8. 8.

    I’m pretty disturbed by the ice cold Jays fans who think it’s a good idea to boo Lupul. Foul!

    - Matt in BC
  9. 9.

    Hello Mike

    Things are going well for the Jays so far. Everyone is pitching in. Davis proves to be effective so far, which is great.

    Just checking the stats. Pitching last year was their downfall. So far this year, the Jays are 6th in ERA at 2.57. Only KC and Texas in the AL with better ERA. THey are 5th in WHIP. In terms of hits, only Tapa has given up fewer hits than the Jays in the AL east. From their six starts, their starters have gone to seven innings in three starts, which is a good start.

    If there is any improvement at all they need from their pitching – it is their walks. They have given more walks than any teams in the MLB.

    How is your cold by the way. I started taking cold FX after recommendation from one of the guys I work with. For my wife and I, they work even when you already have a cold. We usually try to take it when we feel there is a cold coming. Either way, we found taking cold FX shorten the length of the sniffles. They are usually gone within two days.

    Take care, keep up the good work

    MW: It’s far too soon to even look at team stats, give them a few weeks to settle in. Thanks for the advice! The cold is improving.

    - Francis
  10. 10.

    For all the people who love bunting, we’ve just seen two recent examples of why managers don’t call for the bunt in many cases. It’s referred to as a lost art for a reason. Many players just aren’t good at it since situations that actually call for a bunt rarely arise in today’s American league.

    - Dat
  11. 11.

    Early in the season the Jays defense has been awesome. Look how many games have been won with good pitching, good defense and although not enough, the hits have been very timely! Imagine when this team starts to hit if the defense and pitching continue, although, the 3 rarely come together at the same time! Watch out Baltimore, if it all comes together this weekend!

    - Dan From Elmvale
  12. 12.

    We often hear that “players don’t wanna live in Toronto” and that’s why it’s hard to attract star players.
    During the 2012 season, if you take out the all-star break there are ONLY 5 days at home when there are no games/travel. Only 5! It doesn’t matter where you are living during home games, you have the same routine. Same bed, same food, same superstitions. Doesn’t matter if you are living in Toronto or Timbuktu, game days are game days. So all the whining for those 5 full days when you have an option of spending your millions in one of the cleanest and greatest cities in the world? Same goes for the basketball players, in there case there maybe 20 days over six months where they have to be in Toronto. What’s the big deal?

    MW: For most of the players who don’t want to live here, it has more to do with having to deal with customs and not having ESPN than anything else. But winning cures all.

    - Beburg
  13. 13.

    What can the Jays do to help Thames play better defensively?

    MW: Just keep working with him. There’s no magic formula.

    - ScoobyBP
  14. 14.

    Well, with two series under its belt, how are the Jays doing so far?

    They’ve won both their series against an AL East rival and Cleveland.

    Santos had two good appearances out of four, and one could argue easily that the home run he allowed was just sheer luck. All of the games except 1 have been close. The Jays could easily be 6-0 as easy as they could be 1-5. It’s early in the season.

    Statistically, the hitting has been pretty awful, with the pitching being a very bright star so far.

    Joey Bats is in a funk, as is Colby and Arencibia. But it’s early. It’ll take at least a couple of more weeks to straighten things up.

    So far, the bullpen has been impressive with the exception of Santos blown save, and Janssen’s nonmeaningful hiccup on Tuesday.

    - Tim in Niagara Falls
  15. 15.

    michael,
    this blue jays team after 6 games in the books is on pace for 108 wins.
    based on the fact that that’s where they are and not even truly firing on all cylinders as of yet i’ve got to up my win total prediction for 2012 at this point me thinks.
    as you may or may not recall from my previous prediction back just before opening day, i had them coming in at about 108-109 finishing second to only the rays.
    this needs to be rejigged obviously.
    got them at 112-113 now winning the division by a couple of games.
    and still wearing by colby r. jersey.
    good quality material in these sweaters btw michael.
    holding up extremely well in the shower thus far.

    - darrell bishop
  16. 16.

    Always a pleasure listening to Jays Talk and reading your blog. You always have a great perspective.
    Realistically, should we be worried about Jose and the rate at which he’s popping up? I think I read an article in ST that said he started doing it more in the second half last year.
    I really don’t care if he leads the league in HR’s, but he needs to get on base to be effective. 6 games in, I know relax it’s Jose… give the guy a break right?
    Here’s hoping he gets going.

    - Logan
  17. 17.

    That was one sweet victory. The pain of opening day has indeed passed. Taking those 2 of 3 showed Boston that the beatings we took last year (despite our 8 and 10 record against them)are more than likely in our past. Hopefully JP and Joey can get it going soon as we continue to ride our spring success. Go Jays!

    - Jeffrey
  18. 18.

    This is kind of a puff blog entry Mike, not the probing analysis you usually provide, but whatever, it was a great win for the Jays! Is McGowan slated to pitch on the 21st, or are the Jays thinking about Hutchison or Carreno instead? Both of whom appear to have bright futures.

    MW: I’m sick, what can I tell you? It definitely won’t be McGowan on April 21st, that’s for sure. I’d be surprised if we saw him before the end of May. If I had to guess, I’d say that day’s start will go to one of Joel Carreno, Drew Hutchison or Aaron Laffey.

    - Jaysoptimist
  19. 19.

    Hi Mike,

    Any news on McGowan? I know there’s time before we need him but the fact of it is we’re going to need him.

    You are bang on concerning Santos by the way.

    MW: I don’t know that it’s a fact that the Blue Jays will need McGowan in order to be successful this season.

    - Slingshot
  20. 20.

    michael,
    i know it’s early. of course it is. but i’m tellin’ you right now. if this team is blessed with a relatively clean bill of health in 2012 and aa and his people can somehow manage to snag another bonafide starter to meet their needs…. i’ll tell you right now my friend everybody better get ready cause’ we got ourselves a pennant race and maybe a run for the division.
    crazy? ya . crazy like a fox maybe…
    heck… who knows, might even be the case without the new sp making his way here.
    but if it can be managed.
    man, what fun we’re gonna have this yr. watching this team.
    to heck with these 81-85 game win predictions being bandied about… just might have those kind of numbers tallied up by labour day michael i’m thinking…
    we’ll see…

    - darrell bishop
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