For the second straight night, the Blue Jays got a tremendous outing from a young starting pitcher and did absolutely nothing with it, wasting Kyle Drabek’s six innings of two-run ball and getting shut out for the first time all season.
Drabek only really made one mistake, and Wilson Betemit hit it out of the yard to dead centre in the second inning. Chris Davis also homered, but Davis was very upset with himself as he started to run towards first, thinking he’d popped it up, and when the ball wound up leaving the park, Drabek himself couldn’t even stifle a laugh at the absurdity of it.
The most encouraging thing about the outing was that Drabek walked only half as many Orioles as he’d walked Royals in his last start, and that the hitter following each one of Drabek’s three walks wound up hitting into a double play. He also struck out both hitters he faced after allowing the home runs. These are excellent signs, since the only thing that seems to have been standing in between Drabek and huge success is his own ability to maintain his composure and control his emotions.
The offense just couldn’t get anything going against Baltimore starter Jason Hammel, who shut them out on four hits over seven innings, or relievers Matt Lindstrom and Pedro Strop. The Jays only had a couple of solid scoring chances – they loaded the bases with two out in the fourth, but Colby Rasmus struck out, and they put the first two hitters of the ninth inning aboard, but Strop got Edwin Encarnacion on a fly ball to centre and then Brett Lawrie hit into a game-ending double play.
It looked like Encarnacion turned his ankle pretty badly after the swing, but he still managed a light jog down the first base line as Adam Jones handled the fly ball easily. One hopes that Edwin is fine, he’s been one of the only players who has produced offensively on a regular basis in this early part of the season.
The online hate was directed towards Adam Lind tonight, for some reason (he went 1-for-3 with a walk hitting out of the clean-up spot a day after John Farrell had declared Encarnacion his clean-up man for the time being). Here’s what you need to know about Lind: He was spectacular in 2009, average in 2010 (his overall numbers were dragged down by an absymal showing against left-handed pitchers – against righties he hit .275/.327/.502, which is not bad at all), and in 2011 he was one of the best hitters in the league for a couple of months once he got his groove going, until he hurt his back.
And when did he get going last season? Why, on April 26th, by going 1-for-3 with a walk. From that point on until July 14th, Lind hit .339/.390/.607 for a sparkling .997 OPS. Going into that April 26th game, he was hitting .232/.270/.329. What’s Lind hitting right now? .217/.299/.350. It can turn around that quickly.
I’m trying my best, but I can’t seem to convince too many people that the fact that the Blue Jays are off to a 10-8 start – a 90+ win pace – while doing almost nothing offensively is a very good thing. Trust me, the fact that they’re winning while they’re playing poorly is tremendous. There’s a lot more in these bats than they’ve shown, pretty much every one of them except for Encarnacion’s, and at some point soon, the hitting will come around. If the starting pitching can keep going anywhere close to where it has been, the Blue Jays and their fans are going to be having a lot of fun.
Here’s tonight’s edition of The BlueJaysTalk, for your listening pleasure:
The road trip comes to a close on Thursday night, with Drew Hutchison getting the assignment of beating back the Baltimore brooms. He’s making his second big-league start, having beaten the Royals on Saturday night, and he can’t pitch much better than Drabek or Henderson Alvarez did before him, so the Blue Jays’ bats had better get to hitting against lefty Brian Matusz, who is off to a pretty terrible start to the year, with a 7.98 ERA and an ugly WHIP of 2.250. The Blue Jays have already beaten him once this year, 9-2 back on April 15th, with Encarnacion and Lawrie taking him deep. The Jays haven’t lost more than two in a row yet this season. We’ll have all the action for you, starting at 7:00PM Eastern along the Blue Jays Radio Network – join us, won’t you?
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