11:40PM Eastern

A team generally loses its first game after returning from a long road trip, and I’ll wager the likelihood goes up if there’s no off-day after the travel.  That doesn’t make the series-opening loss to the Rays any easier to swallow, though.

Brandon Morrow didn’t seem himself through the first four innings, but he hadn’t allowed a hit, had struck out seven, and had retired 12 of 13 after starting off the game with back-to-back walks.  Something wasn’t right, though, as his fastball was hanging out around 88-90, only occasionally hitting 93 and 94.  Still, he was certainly getting the job done before Will Rhymes led off the 5th with a double into the left-field corner.  An out later, Elliot Johnson scored Rhymes with a single, but he was eliminated on a Ben Zobrist grounder.  Morrow followed that with a four-pitch walk to B.J. Upton, then got Matt Joyce to hit a hard ground ball to first.  Adam Lind couldn’t corral it, and the ball deflected off his glove to Kelly Johnson, who threw to first – Morrow covered as Joyce dove headfirst for the bag.

Joyce was called safe, and as Morrow stood and argued with first base umpire Bill Miller, Zobrist scored all the way from second.  Now, had Morrow come up throwing to the plate as soon as he caught Johnson’s throw, Zobrist might still have been safe anyway, but it sure would have been nice to have seen it.

The floodgates were open, but it’s tough to say that either the error or the disputed call at first rattled Morrow, because he got back on the mound and struck out the next hitter, Carlos Pena.  Problem was, strike three bounced up to the plate, and despite good blocking form from the catcher, the ball squirted through J.P. Arencibia towards the Blue Jays’ dugout, allowing Pena to reach to load the bases and continue the inning for Luke Scott, who singled hard to left to score a pair, and Sean Rodriguez, who doubled to right-centre to cash another two.

That was more than enough for the Rays, as the Blue Jays went hitless between Eric Thames’ infield single with two out in the 3rd and Brett Lawrie’s line single to right with none out in the bottom of the 9th.  The Blue Jays’ suddenly punchless offense, which has scored in only two of the last 21 innings, and has plated only five runs in the past three games, managed all of four singles on a night in which the starting pitcher was knocked out in the first inning.

Lind, who was back in the clean-up spot partly because of his 13-for-28 career mark against Rays’ starter Jeff Niemann and partly because of Niemann’s splits that had lefties hitting almost 300 points of OPS higher than righties, knocked Niemann out of the game by breaking his leg with a line drive in the first inning.  It wasn’t grisly or anything – Niemann picked up the ball, threw Lind out at first and was able to pitch to and retire Edwin Encarnacion to end the inning – but he couldn’t answer the bell for the second and x-rays later revealed the break.  He’ll miss most of the rest of the season.  Five Rays relievers combined to shut the Blue Jays down on three hits the rest of the way.

At least the Blue Jays’ bullpen pitched well, right?  Morrow left after that six-run fifth (though only one run was earned), and Luis Perez, Evan Crawford (called up in the afternoon as Joel Carreno was sent down to AA to get back to starting), Francisco Cordero and Carlos Villanueva combined to throw four innings of three-hitter, striking out seven while only allowing one run – a Zobrist homer off Los Del V leading off the ninth.

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

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The series wraps up Tuesday night with Henderson Alvarez getting the call against Blue Jays-killer David Price.  The Rays’ lefty is 10-2 lifetime against the Jays, with a 2.13 ERA and 1.049 WHIP.  Earlier this season he struggled against them, but allowed just two runs despite giving up eight hits and walking two in 5 2/3 innings.  Jeff Mathis took him deep in a 12-2 Rays win.  We’ll be on the air at 7:00PM Eastern as the Blue Jays try to shake themselves out of the doldrums that have seen them lose six of their last nine games – 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!

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10 Responses to “Welcome Home – Or Something”
  1. 1.

    Is it possible to make the JaysTalk available for download?

    MW: Isn’t it?

    - pete
  2. 2.

    4-9 Within the division, Possibly 4-10 after tonight facing Price. The starting pitching has been just about all that’s gone to plan so far, How worried are you Mike that the Starting pitching might be showing signs of slowing down? walks are beginning to pile up, Romero’s less than stellar last 2 starts, Morrow’s lack of velocity last night etc.

    MW: I don’t worry about stuff like that. I’ve been incredibly impressed by what the starting pitching had done going into that road trip, and through the first couple of games in Anaheim. They’d been pitching above their heads, as a group, it was only a matter of time until there was a bump in the road.

    - ukjay
  3. 3.

    Awe Mike, tough loss. Morrow hung in there for a while until the wheels fell off. Funny how the Jays two best pitchers seemed to have bad games back to back.

    Mike, did the Jays offer any explanation to reason for the drop in Morrow’s velocity in the latter inning yesterday? You are right, he didn’t seem right – 89-90 mph is slow for him.

    - Francis
  4. 4.

    Mike I really enjoy your show, but I have one pet peeve, and again I heard it on your show tonight.

    There is no such thing as luck. “luck” is a madeup word to explain something that cannot be explained.

    It is their talent that has enabled them to overcome their lack of offense and inconsistency to play above
    .500 ball

    MW: There is absolutely such a thing a luck. Is it Encarnacion’s talent that enabled his pop-up in front of the plate to fall in for a hit?

    - Atlanta
  5. 5.

    Hi Mike -

    I really think it’s time to make some hard decisions with regards to Lind. He hasn’t been productive at the plate for going on 3 years, 170 or so ABs in 2011 notwithstanding (out of about 1200 over the last 3 years) – after mid-June last year he was awful, no matter what anyone says about how good he was “until the all star break” (From June 18 – the ASG, Lind had a .552 OPS). We know his ability to hit LHP is virtually non-existent.

    Defensively, despite what people tell us about improvement, I just don’t see it. Using the same metric everyone uses to laud Lawrie’s defense (DRS), Lind is below average. He’s made 5 errors already this season, and it would *appear* his struggles at the plate are affecting him in the field.

    I’ve heard you on radio hits state the Jays should be contending for a playoff spot. How can the Jays possibly hope to achieve this with a guy playing as poorly as Lind – on both sides of the ball? Especially one in a “power position”.

    The Jays showed they could make hard choices but letting Rios go for nothing… in a year where he hit .264/.317/.427.

    I don’t think the time is *now* to make a move with Lind, but it should be coming, and coming fast.

    MW: I think the time is certainly coming, but it’s a completely different situation than Rios’, to whom the Blue Jays owed a crapload of money over a lot of years. They were thrilled to get out from under his contract. Lind’s isn’t nearly the same.

    - Kevin A.
  6. 6.

    Mike,

    I’m frustrated at this point and it seems this team needs a jolt. It’s been 6 weeks so I think its time you seriously look at a change before it gets too late. I see a good sign from Lind, specifically him taking a walk but that is about it. Jays have too many spots in the order where they are getting almost no production. Lind, Thames, and Rasmus are doing next to nothing. Sure, Thames has a decent average but its quite empty in that he’s only driven in only 8 runs in 6 weeks of play (on pace for only 38 RBIs in a season). Rasmus is playing good D in centre but seems like an automatic out at this point. I think you have to consider giving Cooper a look and having Snider come up fairly soon.

    - JT
  7. 7.

    Simple story tonite — you can’t give ANY major league team 5 outs in an inning, much less the ultra-opportunistic Rays.

    MW: Well, you can – but it’s awfully tough to get away with it.

    - Norm
  8. 8.

    It baffles me why the Jays keep trotting out the same lineup when many are not hitting. The fact that Lind is still anywhere near the top of the order is unpossible to fathom and why they don’t move Lawrie up is head scratchingly absurd. I know Snider is 0 for 13 since returning from injury but time to bring him up. Rasmus is disappointing. We need a hero

    MW: And a guy who is 0-for-13 since coming back from a wrist injury is the answer? Lind hit 8th for a week, and moved up because he was facing a pitcher he’d dominated.

    - Ken
  9. 9.

    Hi Mike. I’m surprised you didn’t elaborate more on Adam Lind’s poor performance. He was charged with 2 errors (and made a 3rd, but the put-out was made by Lawrie) and pretty much cost the Jays the game. And I won’t even mention his struggles at the plate.

    What options, if any, are there for reduced playing time for him?

    MW: Adam Lind didn’t cost the Blue Jays the game. The options for reducing his playing time, which the Blue Jays are looking into, really come down to more playing time for Ben Francisco.

    - Zman
  10. 10.

    MW: And a guy who is 0-for-13 since coming back from a wrist injury is the answer? Lind hit 8th for a week, and moved up because he was facing a pitcher he’d dominated.

    small sample size Mike which you are so fond of throwing in people’s faces when it suits your argument. Snider has mashed all year

    MW: You can’t ignore a wrist injury and the time it takes to return from that, as much as you’d like to.

    - Ken
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