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?
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