10:42PM Eastern

The Blue Jays almost dug themselves out of a three-run hole in Anaheim Sunday, but just couldn’t push that final run across, falling to the Angels but winding up with a split of a four-game series on the road against what will wind up being one of the better teams in baseball.

As I said on The Twitter right after the game (you can follow me @wilnerness590, by the way), you can’t be upset with splitting a four-game series on the road, but you also can’t be happy about it after winning the first two games of the series.

Drew Hutchison put together a lovely fifth starter’s start, but he goes into the record books as the first pitcher ever to cough up a home run to the Angels incarnation of Albert Pujols.  Albert ended his longest career homer drought – and the longest EVER to start a season by a player with at least 400 career big flies – by taking Hutchison deep to left in the fifth inning, a two-run shot that put the Halos up 4-1 at the time.  It was his 111th at-bat of the season.  Fans who had been booing him all weekend suddenly wanted a curtain call, but they didn’t get one.

The Blue Jays scratched their way back with a run each in the 6th (Jose Bautista leadoff double, Edwin Encarnacion sac fly) and the 7th (J.P. Arencibia single, Pujols throwing error, Kelly Johnson RBI single), and had the tying run on base in each of the 7th, 8th and 9th innings, but couldn’t cash.

In both the 8th and 9th, the tying run was erased on the bases, with the 8th inning incident standing out the most.

Adam Lind walked to lead off that frame, and Rajai Davis came out to pinch-run.  Davis took off for second, but Edwin Encarnacion couldn’t stop his half-swing and fouled the pitch off, then fouled off another before the Angels pitched out with Davis staying put.  Davis then took off again, but Edwin popped the ball up to the pitchers’ mound.  Davis never could figure out where the ball was, and slid into second thinking that either there had been a throw or a ground ball somewhere.  The rule is, of course, that if you can’t pick up the ball, you pick up your coaches, and Davis did neither one of those things.

There were shenanginans, to be sure, as Angels’ shortstop Erick Aybar did his best Sean Avery impression – dancing around in front of Davis, standing between him and first base, but Davis never made a single move to go back to first anyway.

The runner eliminated in the 9th was much more normal.  Arencibia smacked a one-out single up the middle that was hit so hard that it broke Scott Downs.  The former Blue Jay, and now Angels’ closer, strained something in his leg ducking out of the way of the Arencibia missile and had to leave the game.  Jeff Mathis came in to run for Arencibia, who wound up 3-for-4 on the day with a duck snort, a pop-up lost in the sun and that rocket, as LaTroy Hawkins came in to finish it off for L.A. of A.

Omar Vizquel, making his first start at shortstop this season (and in so doing  becoming the oldest person ever in the history of anything to play shortstop in a big-league game), lined a shot back up the middle with Mathis running, but it was a little lower than Arencibia’s, so instead of nearly taking Hawkins’ head off, Hawkins was able to stick his glove out and snare it.  At that point, Mathis was meatcake and the game was over.

Here’s this evening’s edition of The BlueJaysTalk, for your listening pleasure:


It was a valiant effort, as has the entire season been to this point, but the falling shortness means that the Blue Jays fall to 16-13 on the season, and continue their road trip in Oakland with a quick little two-game series against an A’s team coming home off a 5-4 road trip they finished with series wins in Boston and Tampa Bay.  I’m thrilled to report that I’ll be joining the Blue Jays for the remainder of this trip (two in Oakland, four in Minnesota) to do the radio broadcast with Jerry Howarth as Alan Ashby moves over to the bright lights of the television (Pat Tabler has the week off).  Tuesday night’s game will be the first of 27 games (not in a row) I’ll be filling in for Alan on the broadcast, so please make sure to tune in –  I want your feedback!

The series in Oakland opens with Ricky Romero taking on hotshot Oakland rookie Jarrod Parker, a former Arizona first-rounder who went to the A’s in the Trevor Cahill deal this past winter.  We’ll have the full pre-game show for you beginning at 9:30PM Eastern Tuesday  night – join us, won’t you?

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

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15 Responses to “An Unhappy Split”
  1. 1.

    In the 8th, had Davis got up and tried to run back to 1st base with Aybar in his face, trolling him, would the umpire have likely called defensive interference? If so, would Davis be awarded 2nd or safe passage back to 1st? (I thought this is what Farrell might have been arguing about).

    On the bright side, I love every game where Omar Vizquel appears. (2,700th game as a SS today!)

    You’ll love these factoids:

    Eleven parks he has played in that no longer exist/not used for MLB: Exhibition Stadium, Memorial Stadium, Yankee Stadium I, Tiger Stadium, Comiskey Park I, Municipal Stadium, Metrodome, Kingdome, Arlington Stadium, Pro Player Stadium, Fulton County Stadium.

    Today’s game featured the 2 oldest active ALers (Vizquel, Oliver) and the 2 youngest active ALers (Trout, Hutchison).

    The 5th and 6th oldest (Isringhausen, Hawkins) and 4th and 5th youngest (HAlvarez, Lawrie) also appeared in this series.

    Enjoy Oakland. It’d be cool if you could ask Eric Thames about his experience growing up in the Bay Area and if he was a fan of the A’s playoff-calibre teams (Hudson, Mulder, Zito, Tejada, Chavez, Giambis) of the 2000-03 era.

    MW: I would think that if the umpires had called obstruction on Aybar because of his shenanigans, Davis would have been awarded safe passage back to first base and then, because of the obstruction, been given second base.

    - Adrian, co-alumnus
  2. 2.

    Hi Mike, one thought, one comment.

    Strangely, nobody seems to notice the Jays, even though they have a pretty good record and everyone within reach. I read an article about the Orioles on CNNSI and they said that the Orioles leading the AL East, half a game of Tampa, and already X games of NY and BoSox. No mentioning of the Jays. I think this is odd. However I personally like that the Jays are flying under the radar which means they are not spectacular right now (no riding any wave) but still manage to win more series than loosing them.

    My questions concerns the pitching staff. I heard you saying that you are pretty impressed with Drew Hutchinsons performance up to that point. One of the reasons why you go through the different Levels of Minors is as far as I understood it ( not much baseball knowledge), gain experience, learn something that you can bring to the big leagues. Does Drew Hutchinson and maybe still Drabek would need to gain more experience on an AAA level (in a perfect scenario and if the jays would have two other starters, I know this is hypthetical) be reliable starters “every time” they take the mound? It seems to me that Hutchinson will face some games and situations as part of his learning curve where the team might suffer in the short run ( and as a 21 year old kid you are more than allowed to do that) because of his lack of expierence above A ball but the Jays will benefit in the long run. Drabek certainly gained experience from some terrible outings in 2011 in the Majors and in Vegas, and the way he is pitching he is of course a Big League pitcher.

    Or would you say, if pitchers like Hutchinson, Drabek and others have enough talent, they do not need that many innnings pitched in the Minors?

    As a Jays fan, I love the talent and how they perform in general, I just think that in the end, this inexperience might cost some games this year and I would love to see the Jays compete til the end for a Wild Card.

    I do not ask for more experienced startes (even thoug I would be happy to see Dustin McGowan back) I guess it is just the questions of what should I reasonably expect from these young guns over an entire season as a Jays fan.

    Thx and have fun on your road trip and it would be highly appreciated if you can bring some more “W” for the Jays along with you

    MW: I think that the most important things for young pitchers to work on in the minors are command and composure. If you have those, you can pitch in the major leagues. Hutchison does. Drabek needs work, but his stuff is so overwhelming he can often overcome it. As for what you can reasonably expect from them this season? No idea.

    - Greg
  3. 3.

    Hi Mike

    you are right, an unhappy split and the jays were a little snake bitten I think. The ball hopping by first base hitting EE in the face. The single that hit Hutchison that would have been a double play. Two hits the jays hit that were almost home runs. Bautista looking at third strike with two man on.

    The shananigan on second base – yes, it was a little over the top, but Raja does not think quickly on his feet.

    It was just not to be Mike, but a split is still not bad

    - Francis
  4. 4.

    Hey Mike! Looking forward to hear you doing the colour commentary for 27 games this year. Will you be taking on a more permanent role next year? I hope that you still always do JaysTalk.. your the reason I listen!

    MW: Thanks very much! I hope they give me 27 again next year – not even thinking about a chance for more yet!

    - Nate
  5. 5.

    I heard someone ask Aaron Hill once if he could change any rule in baseball, what would it be? He said he’d like to see someone who hits into a double play still get credit for an RBI if it drives in a run. Personally, I’d love to see the rules changed so that a pitcher who blows a save, only to have his team come back and win it in the next half-inning, does NOT automatically get the win. What would you change if you were baseball rules guru for a day?

    MW: Those really aren’t baseball rules so much as official scoring rules. If I were rules guru for a day, I would bring both leagues together as far as the DH is concerned, which is to say I would bring the DH to the National League.

    - Rob_NS
  6. 6.

    I’m very impressed with Hutchison so far, with the 2nd best K/BB ratio on the team. If he keeps pitching this well, the ERA will take care of itself.

    - Doug D
  7. 7.

    It’s time for Drew Hutchinson’s major league stint to end. Among 71 starters with 3 or more starts in the AL, he is 10th worst in ERA and 14th worst in WHIP. This is not #5 stuff. It is #6 stuff.

    His strikeouts are average, the number of walks given up are above average (on the good side), and home runs are also good.

    But as he gets deeper in the game, the kid fools no one. His OPS against batters facing him for the 2nd time, .948, for the 3rd time 1.164. Against players for the 1st time, he is super effective. Perhaps these numbers show him more effective right now as a long reliever.

    But the kid is 21. He is the youngest starter in the AL. And he has, what, a 1/2 dozen games in AA. The kid needs to learn more pitches and get some variety to his pitches and learn to deal with adversity. You can say, “well, he had 4 bad innings in 4 starts”. He needs to have an outing with zero bad innings.

    If this was July or August, and the Blue Jays was 10 games back of a wild card, then bring in the kid, and see what he can do.

    But it isn’t. Baltimore will come down to earth, and the Yankees are without a closer and will lose a few more games due to blown saves. That gives the Blue Jays a good chance to pull in a wild card berth this year. Playoffs would do wonders for Blue Jays attendance, radio, and television viewing, meaning that you can charge more for Super 8 ads on the radio, and Rogers Media can fund some more road trips for you to go on.

    Bring in someone who can be the #5 closer. Stretch Villaneuva or Perez. Bring up Chavez. Hire someone to be the number 3 or 4 starter, but in my opinion, perhaps give Hutch more more start (against Minnesota) and call it a day for him. Send him back down to the minors, let him improve, and have him come back with some variety to his pitches that will fool hitters on their 2nd and 3rd time around.

    Just my opinion, strong as it is.

    MW: Hutchison has now had two starts in a row without a bad inning.

    - Tim in Niagara Falls
  8. 8.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this the second time this year Davis was involved in a double play becasue of a bone headed move on his part? – the first one on a pop up bunt where he forgot to that your suppose to run to first base.

    On a hit-n-run atempt or even a straight steal, shouldn’t the runner take a quick look to see if if the ball is put in play or not?

    MW: Sometimes, but some runners feel that slows them down. Regardless, when the ball is put in play, the baserunner has to find out where it went.

    - Shmuel
  9. 9.

    after 2 consecutive complete game (3 and 4 hit?) shutouts you know that team wasn’t going to roll over and go away… just wasn’t going to happen unfortunately…
    so on the road, west coast 4 game series. a split ok by me.
    now off to oakland woth romero up. a ok by me on that too.
    speaking of the a’s… read moneyball when it came out. enjoyed it immensely i must say but finally got a chance to see the movie.
    (premiering on the movie channel this month by the looks of it)
    man oh man michael. i got to tell you, that billy beane is absolutely dreamy… got lost in his eyes…
    had no idea.

    - darrell bishop
  10. 10.

    I think Drew Hutchison needs about 12-15 more starts in AA.

    Just one fan’s opinion.

    - Zack
  11. 11.

    Good luck with the broadcast Mike. You’re very good to the baseball fans around here and it’s nice to see a deserving person get the chance. Have fun with it and I’m looking forward to tuning in.

    MW: Thanks very much! Hope you enjoyed it.

    - chris m.
  12. 12.

    Hello Mike

    AA had an interesting conversation with the Fan today (actually, all his conversation are interesting).

    He talked about Lind being too selective. I find both Bautista and Lind are too selective. Not sure if this is my imagination, but I cannot recall these two players swing at the first pitch thrown to them when they start an at-bat. The worse thing is; most of these pitches were thrown for strikes. Do you concur?

    PS – are you going to Minnesota as well Mike, I know you are going to Oakland

    MW: It does feel as though they’ve taken a lot of first-pitch strikes, but a lot of that is confirmation bias.

    - Francis
  13. 13.

    so… in san francisco… the ever present city of peace, love and freedom taking in such places as the historic haight ashbury park i see where it all really began. nice…
    enjoy the experience. it’s all good.
    and to quote one of your personal musical heroes and mine if i can john lennon, to keep you in that wonderful place as you get set for your very exciting upcoming play by play stint tonite on the air.
    “words are flowing out
    like endless rain into a paper cup
    they slither wildly as they slip across the universe….
    jai guru deva om.
    nothing’s gonna change my world…
    nothing’s gonna change my world…
    nothing’s gonna change my world…
    nothing’s gonna change my world…”
    all this sound a little weird maybe to some?
    no… not at all really.
    just a little break for my baeball friend here from all the sometimes regurgitated baseball banter that’s all…
    stay in the moment and enjoy your upcoming broadcast(s) michael.
    over and out.

    - darrell bishop
  14. 14.

    Good luck on the broadcasts .

    Remember you’re with Jerry , not with the post-game callers, so don’t say to Jerry too often :
    “That’s not true”

    MW: An excellent tip!

    - Sal
  15. 15.

    I’ll take ANY split on the road against the Angels at any point in the season and be happy with it. A little side note–Right now the Rangers seem to be making a statement; a two part interrogative to the A L East that goes something like–Orioles? What seems to be the problem beating the Orioles?–GO BLUE JAYS

    - Brian Horton
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