4:02PM Eastern

The Blue Jays wrapped up their homestand by letting the proverbial big dog eat, exploding for a season-high 11 runs in pounding the Texas Rangers, who came to town with the best record in baseball (tied with the Dodgers) and left having dropped two of three to the Jays, who moved over .500 for the season at Rogers Centre with a 4-2 homestand.

As has been the case far more often than not this season, the Blue Jays fell behind early – this time it was Brandon Snyder’s first major-league home run, a one-out solo shot to dead centre in the second inning.  In their 25 games so far this season, the Blue Jays have surrendered the first run 18 times but, amazingly, they’ve won half of those.

This time, Kelly Johnson got them back in front with his second homer in as many games – a two-run shot off Matt Harrison in the bottom of the third.  Johnson found himself in the leadoff spot for the first time this season, as manager John Farrell flipped him with Yunel Escobar, who was dropped to second.  It was a set-up Farrell had used a few times late in Spring Training, but he’d abandoned it before the season started.  To make the switch for Wednesday’s game was curious, since Rangers starter Matt Harrison came into the game allowing  lefties to hit just .094/.094/.125 off him this season, but that didn’t deter Johnson, or Eric Thames for that matter, who was 1-for-2 with a double off the southpaw.

Yunel Escobar seemed awfully comfortable in the second spot in the order – he had a three-hit day, missing the cycle by a home run.  His biggest blow was the one that ended Harrison’s day, a three-run triple to right-centre as part of the Blue Jays’ six-run fourth.  Escobar came up in the 8th against Koji Uehara with a chance to join Kelly Gruber and Jeff Frye as Blue Jays cyclists, and the chance to have the first legitimate cycle in Jays’ history, but he grounded out to shortstop.

Ricky Romero got the win to improve to 4-0 on the young season with seven dazzling innings of four-hitter.  There was one decidedly non-dazzling inning, as well – a four-run fifth for the Rangers that saw Romero open up by walking the first three hitters he faced, which happened to be the only free passes he’d issue all afternoon.  Elvis Andrus followed with a rocket to dead centre on which Colby Rasmus took a step towards the infield, then chased all the way to the wall. That two-run double was followed by a broken-bat RBI single by Michael Young and then, finally, a Mike Napoli sacrifice fly for the first out of the inning.  Romero settled down beautifully from there, getting eleven more outs without giving up a hit before handing it over to Joel Carreno for the ninth.

Romero’s blow-up came right after the Blue Jays’ big fourth inning, and there’s a chance that sitting and watching his mates score a bunch of runs in a chilly open-roofed Rogers Centre might have had a detrimental effect on Romero – cold hands leading to a lack of feel for the baseball and that sort of thing.  Regardless, he was pretty impressive once he got that hiccup out of the way.

Two roster notes – Rajai Davis came out of the game after getting an infield single and then scoring on Escobar’s triple.  He has a mild strain of his left hip flexor and is day-to-day.  And Romero handed it over to Carreno for the ninth because the Blue Jays optioned Evan Crawford down to Las Vegas before the game, calling up the righty who had started the season’s third game but will work out of the bullpen now.

The Blue Jays are the first team to hand the Rangers two straight losses in the regular season since the Red Sox did it on August 24th and 25th of last season; this was also the first time in seven tries that Texas has lost a day game, whatever that means.

It was a weekday day game, so there was no opportunity for The BlueJaysTalk,  but we’ll make up for that with a late-night edition on Thursday night/Friday morning as the Blue Jays open up a 10-game, 11-day road trip with the first of four in Anaheim against the Angels.  The series begins with Brandon Morrow taking the mound coming off his best start of the season – six innings of five-hit shutout with no walks and nine strikeouts against the Mariners – facing Angels’ ace Dan Haren.  The Halos are struggling, with just nine wins in their first 24 games, so the Jays might want to sneak in, win a few games, and sneak out all quiet-like.  We’ll be on the air with the pre-game show at 9:30PM Eastern for a 10:05 first pitch – join us, won’t you?

Please give me a follow on The Twitter – you can find me @wilnerness590.

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

21 Responses to “Runs A-Plenty!”
  1. 1.

    What character this team showed in winning this series. Encarnacion is exceeding all expectations and rightly deserves the Honda player of the month.

    - Yaz
  2. 2.

    2 of 3 from the pretty much universally acknowledged ‘best team in baseball’.

    Somewhere along the line people might have to start considering the possibility that this team is good.

    - Ben
  3. 3.

    It will be interesting to see if the Jays make a play to get EE and KJ locked up long term. Especially if they plan to replace them with rookies. It could send a message they are not willing to spend and always rebuilding. Are those guys key pieces, or stop gaps?

    MW: I think they’ll definitely try to lock up both of them, but Edwin might be more amenable to it than Johnson. Maybe.

    - Dan
  4. 4.

    Nothing but positives here. Way to win the series, hand Texas a 2 in a row loss and continue to have a winning record against both left and right hitting starters.

    Let’s hope that the postiveness continues in Anaheim, Oakland and Minnesota. It’s a good time for the bats to be awarming, with 4 7+ run games in the last 5 games. Hopefully the starting pitching can keep going strong, and Lind can find his bat.

    - Tim in Niagara Falls
  5. 5.

    Jays are now 13 – 6 against teams not called the Baltimore Orioles!!! Hopefully the offence keeps it up and the pitching stays the course. Could make May very interesting.
    Any chance the Jays toy with the idea of Bautista at 1B, Snider in RF and Lind on another team next year?

    MW: I don’t think Bautista will be giving up right field that soon.

    - Aaron
  6. 6.

    Hi Mike

    Just wondering what your take is on why baseball players so often fail to run hard to first base when they put the ball in play. An example of this possibly costing the Blue Jays a baserunner occurred when Eric Thames lined the ball to Napoli in the 7th. Besides diving at first base, which we know is never going to get you there faster than running through it(has no one shared this with the players), he could also be seen on the replay clearly letting up when he thought Napoli was going to make the catch and then having to get going again. Considering how close the play was it’s fair to say he might have beat out that play had he just ran down the line. Let’s face it, baseball is a really hard game to play, and 162 games is a long season, but baseball is not the most physically taxing of sports. Considering a baseball player is not likely to have to run the 90 feet to first more than four or five times a game why do you think it’s so difficult to get players to run hard each and every time? Most of these guys are in really good shape and I can’t think of a scenario in which a player would ever come to the plate winded or physically exhausted from a previous play, what gives?

    I want to clarify that I am well aware that they often run hard to first, and I’m not suggesting Thames is particularly bad in this area, but as far as I’m concerned there is never a good reason not to run hard until the play is done. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect a professional athlete to run as hard as he can down the first base line each and every time he puts the ball in play. Why would a manager not demand this of his players?

    MW: Probably because there are greater battles to fight with them. I agree with you, I don’t think it’s too much to ask at all of players to bust it down the line every time they hit the ball. In Thames’ case there, though, it’s only natural to stop when you see the line drive you hit get caught, which Napoli did, though he then dropped it. What bothers me more about running down the line is that players so often start to gear down before the first baseman catches the ball.

    - Ryan
  7. 7.

    Well that sure was a heck of a lot of fun to watch if you’re like me and prefer your baseball a game at a time. I like to worry about the playoffs in October. I hope the modified lineup (flipping Escobar and Johnson and hitting Encarnation in cleanup) will be given a chance. Those moves seem to make a lot of sense with Edwin on fire and Adam and Yunel struggling a bit. Too bad Crawford got sent back down before he got to pitch again and kind of redeem himself. I am sure he feels he is wearing goat horns for the 2 dingers in the Darvish game though they made absolutely no difference to the outcome.
    Personally I would like to see the bullpen shortened though. With the starters going so far in games there just isn’t enough work to keep everybody sharp. But then who do you bring up? Perhaps if you could make an acquisition like Damon or Matsui it would be good for the bench but bringing up a prospect to sit and not play just doesn’t work
    These two wins against a very tough team are a good omen and confidence builder for the impending road trip. Good luck fellas though if you continue to swing the bats you won’t need luck! And Jose, when you get to Anaheim look carefully in your locker. I am sure you will find your stroke!

    - JR
  8. 8.

    for those who think colby never smiles.
    you should check out the must See on the blue jays website for lawries homerun.
    He’s all smiles!!!!

    - koolgreen
  9. 9.

    Ur the king wilner! I don’t really have a point but go jays go and it’s been a fun year so far.

    - Ian
  10. 10.

    Hey Mike,

    I’ve tried to call in a couple of times this season, but couldn’t get through – the Jays Talk is popular this year!

    I was just wondering what Rajai Davis’ role going forward will be. Will he stay as a platoon right handed bat, or could he take over as a starter? And what’s his contract status for next year?

    I was also wondering what your gut feeling about Snider and Thames is (not what you think the team should do). Where do you see them this time next year?

    Thanks a lot Mike! Hope that’s not too much to answer…

    MW: I think Davis’ role will continue to be what it has been so far this season – starter against lefties, late-game pinch-runner and defensive replacement. I don’t think he’ll be a regular starter unless there are a couple of injuries. The Blue Jays have an option on him for next season. As for Snider and Thames, I have a feeling they’ll both still be here next year, but I have no crystal ball.

    - Ice
  11. 11.

    Hey mike. Great blog! Great bobblehead too! I just have one question for you right now. I’ve heard you refer to the “myth of the clutch hitter” a few times now. This is something that i have thought about a few times, wondering if certain players can actually come up big in these “clutch” situations. Do you think certain players can make adjustments at the plate that could result in a better outcome with risp? Thanks mike, you’ve got the best job in the world

    MW: Thanks! No, I don’t think any players can do that – if they could, there’d be evidence of people who have done it in the past, and there isn’t.

    - trevor
  12. 12.

    Hi Mike

    when you beat the best team in the league two out of three, you have to be pleased. The one they lost were pretty close as well.

    You have had this interesting discussion about Lawrie batting lead-off. You don’t like the idea because he has too much power. We have had two lead-off batters who have power, Ricky Henderson and Jeter. Lawrie is more of the Henderson type. My question to you is – Did you not like these people leading-off?

    MW: I’m not sure who you mean when you say Jeter. Henderson wasn’t a big power bat by any means, and when he was here, the team was loaded offensively.

    - Francis
  13. 13.

    I’m not for sneaking in and taking a few games, I say they kick the door down and leave the Angels in a deeper whole to climb out of….good thing we missed Weaver on this trip too!

    - Randy
  14. 14.

    what do you mean the only “legitimate” cycle?

    MW: Both Kelly Gruber and Jeff Frye earned their cycles by stretching a double into a single in their final at-bat of their respective games.

    - Michael
  15. 15.

    Did it make that much of a difference to Escobar to bat second? Or was it just a coincident that he breaks out of his slump? He hit well in the lead-off spot last year.

    I know it makes sense to have different types of hitters in different spots in the lineup, but a good hitter will hit well anywhere even though it may not suit the team.

    MW: It was just a coincidence that he busted out with a three-hit game upon moving to the two-hole, but he’s very well-suited to hit there.

    - Michael
  16. 16.

    what a truly magnificent day it was down at the ball park yesterday afternoon wasn’t it?
    highly recommend those lunch hour weekday games to any of your constituents here if they generally don’t partake.
    roof open, sun in, sun out, no matter…
    the good guys win, lots of action up at the plate.
    awesome indeed…
    hey… is it just me or is a base clearing triple (like yunel displayed yesterday) even more exciting than a grand slam ? (minus the extra run in of course)
    i think so. what a thing of beauty i must say. loved it.
    and glad you clarified that my man colby r. took an initial step in on that rocket that flew over his head michael, cause’ it all happend so quickly needless to say, but kinda looked like he might have been able to snag that one when you consider that he seems to get all those other similar shots that get his over his head like that one did. we’ll give him a pass…
    and the ee dinger was certainly welcome to see as the team didn’t look completely out of the woods yet at that point. nice..
    what a swing he’s got going this yr. honest to goodness.
    going to be very curious to see and definitley looking forward to the kind of season he tallies statistically in 2012.
    looking mighty huge at this point no doubt.
    and gonna repeat myelf but i don’t care, best looking dh this league has as far as i’m concerned.
    and who knows… maybe this team’s full time 1b in short order coming up??
    certainly looks ok over there to date this yr.
    we’ll see.
    so now off to play the anaheim angels of l.a. california or whatever the heck the call themselves theses days…

    - darrell bishop
  17. 17.

    Mike, I may have asked you this before but are there any statistics that provide support for offensive production with men on base.
    Pat Tabler and Buck Martinez have pointed out more than once how the team has benefited from getting men on base – especially when those men include Rajai Davis.
    It seems to everyone that with a man on, the Jays are as confident and productive as their opposition.
    There are stats for men in scoring position but again, what about the production that seems to come when opposing pitchers are trying to protect the next 90 feet of real estate with:
    1. faster-paced pitches
    2. throw-overs
    3. looks to the bag
    4. and habits that indicate the pitcher is distracted or rattled?

    MW: Stats showing hitters’ and pitchers’ performance are readily available on many platforms. Baseball-reference.com is particularly awesome.

    - Joseph P.
  18. 18.

    Doesn’t MW owe an apology to that fan who phoned him quite early in the season with the concern that the Jays’ bullpen was not as good as last year’s. In his inimitable fashion, the caller was trashed. The caller was also right. MW’s stance has since softened to “they have not showed it yet”. Indeed! The manager knows his fate is decidedly uncertain with this group and almost any lead.

    MW: There’s no question that the bullpen the Jays have assembled this year, when healthy, is better than the bullpen they assembled last season.

    - j.c. henry
  19. 19.

    Mike I’m sunburned from being at the game. It was quite warm and no wind down at field level. If you were in the booth higher up and in the shade it might have felt chilly, but it was quite nice in the sun.

    Great game. Too bad they didn’t have a couple games like that early in the season to inflate the RBI’s and slugging %. Then it wouldn’t be such a “sky is falling” mentality.

    I had to straighten my friend out – he was complaining about Bautista like it’s all over. I had to point out that he still is on pace for 100BB, mid 20′s home runs and has not been striking out that much. And this is a bad slump for him, don’t get me wrong, but… it’s not that bad.

    - sons
  20. 20.

    Remember when you said if Tampa can turn Fernando Rodney into a good closer it needs to be looked into? Yeah.

    MW: I know! There needs to be an investigation.

    - Scott
  21. 21.

    Did you ever consider writing a book on baseball, dealing with the myths that most believe , and that you expose during the post-game show ?

    It could have a provocative title, like
    :” The Most Common Mistakes MLB Managers Make ”

    or “The Ten Myths of
    Baseball Exposed ”

    MW: Oh, I think there are way better and smarter people than I who could write that. But thanks for your confidence in me!

    - Bert
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