If you’re a Blue Jays fan, you’ll like see the series-opening win in Minnesota as a triumph of great starting pitching, timely hitting and a ton of hustle, with a bit of a hand from a shaky Twins team. If you’re a Twins fan, chances are you saw this game as one your team completely handed to the opposition, and you might even see it as rock bottom for your ballclub.
The truth, of course, lies somewhere in the middle.
The Blue Jays got another great start out of Henderson Alvarez, and got some big two-out RBI hits from Brett Lawrie and Colby Rasmus, but they also took advantage of some huge defensive letdowns by the Twins.
There were at least three massive misplays on which the Twins showed exactly why they’re mired in last place,with the worst record in the major leagues, the only team that’s still in single digits in the win column for the season.
Two of the three plays – or lack of plays – came with Edwin Encarnacion at the plate. The Blue Jays’ leading offensive performer came into the game with just one hit over the first six games of this road trip, and drew a one-out walk in the first inning. In the third, he came to the plate with runners at first and second and nobody out, and hit a hard ground ball to third. Twins’ third baseman Trevor Plouffe had to make a diving stab to his left, so it wasn’t exactly what you’d expect would wind up a double play ball, but you figure he gets the out at second and you have runners on the corners with one out. Except that Yunel Escobar, who had been at second, hit third, rounded it, and didn’t stop running after Plouffe fired a little high to second base to force Jose Bautista. Alexi Casilla stretched to catch the throw, and couldn’t nail Escobar at the plate as he just kept on trucking, scoring from second base on a ground out to third. That’s not supposed to happen.
What’s also not supposed to happen is that a pop fly about seven feet up the third base line from home plate scores a runner from second base, but that’s exactly what transpired the next time Edwin came to the plate. He lifted the sky-high pop-up, and was furious about it as he trudged to first base, but Twins’ catcher Ryan Doumit had no idea where it was. Plouffe had been backed up at third, but still had plenty of time to get there, but pitcher Jason Marquis came running in and called for the ball. Marquis overran it, though, and as the ball spun back towards the mound, Marquis backed up and had it fall right behind his head as, once again, Escobar scored from second.
The other misplay didn’t really factor into the scoring, but it was pretty cool to watch Lawrie go first to third on a passed ball that barely went 20 feet away from Doumit. Again, he had no idea where the ball was, and turned the wrong way first before finally choosing to check with his teammates to see where they were frantically pointing.
Among some of the other craziness:
- Jose Bautista getting hit by two consecutive pitches in the same plate appearance. Home plate ump Bill Welke didn’t think the first one hit Bautista, and if it did, it barely grazed his jersey (though that’s enough for a base), and it seemed as though Welke thought Bautista might have swung at the second one, which drilled him square in the ribcage. At least Welke agreed to consult with his fellow umpires, who I imagine told Welke he was nuts and let Bautista go to first.
- Rule Five outfielder Erik Komatsu deciding to test Bautista’s arm in the second inning, and losing that gamble. Komatsu tried to bunt his way on with two down and the bases empty, and though Alvarez pounced on the ball as it rolled up the third base line, Henderson threw it away. Komatsu took off for second and stopped there, but when he saw the ball get under Kelly Johnson’s glove down the right-field line, he re-accelerated for third, seemingly unaware that Bautista was only a couple of feet away from KJ. The kid was meatcake at third base, a place you really never want to make the last out of an inning.
And it wasn’t so much craziness, but an unusual sight around these parts lately – the Blue Jays’ bullpen was perfect. A three-up, three-down inning each from Luis Perez – who was ordered back to the clubhouse to change his undershirt, the sleeves of which were two tones of blue, before he could pitch – and Jason Frasor.
Here’s tonight’s edition of The BlueJaysTalk – including a caller from Iceland! – for your listening pleasure:
Before the game, the Blue Jays made some news by signing Vladimir Guerrero to a minor-league contract. He’ll go down to extended spring training in Dunedin to try to work himself back into game shape. The one-time Expos great, and potential Hall of Famer, was a shadow of his former self last year in Baltimore, hitting .290/.317/.416 to establish career lows in all three of the slash categories. His 13 home runs, in 590 plate appearances, was also a career-low. Guerrero had failed to hit at least 20 homers only once before in his career, and that was in 2009 with the Angels. I understand a lot of Blue Jays fans are very excited about the prospect of having Guerrero here and helping out the Blue Jays as a middle of the order scary bat, but you’re thinking of the Vladdy of four or five years ago and before that. He’s not the same guy now, and it really almost hurt to watch him limp around the outfield the last time he got to play it, which was in the 2010 World Series with the Rangers.
Hopefully he still has something left, and will be able to contribute off the bench and as an occasional starter, but Guerrero can’t run anymore, he can’t play any position but DH, and his power seems to be fading fast. It would be awesome, though, to have him finish his career in the same country in which he started it, and you could certainly do worse for a bat off the bench in a playoff race, should the Blue Jays find themselves in one.
As a basis for comparison, though, Guerrero’s OPS of .733 last season was lower than Adam Lind’s .734.
The series continues Friday night, weather permitting, with the Blue Jays looking for their third straight win. Kyle Drabek will face the 0-4 Nick Blackburn, who has an ERA of 6.84 and a WHIP of 1.595 so far this season. We’ll be on the air across the Blue Jays Radio Network at 7:30PM Eastern for an 8:10 first pitch. Those of you listening on Sportsnet590 The Fan or here on this very website get an extra half-hour of pre-gameness beginning at 7:00, so tune us in!
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