Coming into their series with the New York Yankees, the Blue Jays were looking pretty rough. They’d just been swept by the Rays and had lost four out of five overall to drop to within a game of the .500 mark and they had their fourth and fifth starters going against a powerful offensive club.
So, of course, the Blue Jays nailed down a sweep.
Drew Hutchison looked terrific in picking up his second straight win, allowing just a run on five hits over six strong innings. He did walk four, but two of them came back-to-back to lead off the fourth, after which the 21 year-old got a ground ball double play then struck out Andruw Jones to escape unscathed. In the bottom of the third, Jose Bautista had blasted his 10th home run of the season – a two-run shot – to give the Jays the lead for what turned out to be the duration. J.P. Arencibia, batting 5th in the rejigged line-up, added his second homer in as many games – also a two-run job – for some 7th inning insurance.
Jason Frasor, Darren Oliver and Casey Janssen worked a perfect inning of relief each. Janssen is 3-for-3 in save situations, and more perfectly, he has yet to even allow a runner to reach base when he’s locking down a save.
Bautista’s bat seems really to be coming around over the last week, the trip to Minnesota appears to have done him some good. He’s got the batting average back over .200 for the first time in three weeks, and since last Friday night he’s hitting .333/.379/.889 with five home runs in seven games.
The Blue Jays made plenty of news before the game, shipping Adam Lind down to AAA Las Vegas and recalling Yan Gomes as Brett Lawrie dropped the appeal of his four-game suspension. Lawrie, Alex Anthopoulos and John Farrell all said that Brett didn’t need an appeal hearing hanging over his head, he’d made his peace with umpire Bill Miller and they didn’t really anticipate the suspension being reduced on appeal, so the decision was made to drop it. I’m thinking as well that they’d rather have had Lawrie miss three games against the Mets than two each against the Rays and Rangers.
The bigger news, though, was the Lind demotion. He’d been a full-time big leaguer since June of 2008, when Cito Gaston was brought back to begin his second tour of duty with the team, and in 2009 he won the American League’s Silver Slugger Award as a DH. But Lind had fallen on awfully hard times since his 2011 OPS peaked at 1.019 on June 17th of last season. At that time, he was hitting .339/.381/.638, but from that point until the end of the season (80 games thanks to a DL stint, 348 plate appearances) he hit just .203/.247/.332 with 11 of his 26 home runs while dealing with a bad back and a wrist injury.
Lind never hit his stride this year, and takes a big-league line of .186/.273/.314 with him down to Las Vegas, with just three home runs. That’s 14 homers over the course of the last 114 games for someone who is supposed to provide power in the heart of the order. I’m not adding his slash line numbers together because it would be too depressing.
Lind is in a massive funk right now, and he has been for the better part of a full calendar year. The Blue Jays have taken the drastic measure of farming him out because they still hope he gets turned around, and that he can be a big part of their future. Comparisons were made to Edwin Encarnacion, who was hitting .200/.298/.467 when he was sent down in late June of 2010. He spent only a week and a half in AAA, tearing up Las Vegas and environs to the tune of a .438/.486/.731 mark, with two doubles and three home runs in just seven games. He returned and hit .269/.310/.491 the rest of the way – more of a jump in batting average than anything else, but look at him now.
I don’t think Lind is done as a very good big-league hitter, and I don’t think the Blue Jays are done with Lind. It’ll likely take him more than ten days to come back, but I think he’ll be back and be productive again. He’s only 28 years old, after all.
Gomes was Lind’s replacement on the roster – though he’s really up to replace Lawrie at third for four games – and he had a terrific major-league debut, going 2-for-3 with a pair of line-drive singles, one to centre and one to right. He wasn’t really tested at third base, only having to make one play, on a pop fly, but he’ll take it. Gomes is the first major-leaguer to have been born in Brazil, so one hopes this was a pretty big day for the soccer-mad South American nation. He’s a versatile guy with a decent bat; a catcher, he can also play first and third, and the hope is that he’ll be in the bigs for a while but the Blue Jays were pretty cryptic about that, saying that more moves could very well be coming on Monday when Lawrie returns from his suspension.
Those moves won’t include a promotion of Vladimir Guerrero, though. Even though his timetable has been accelerated to the point where he’ll begin playing in extended spring training games on Friday instead of early next week, Farrell still doesn’t expect Guerrero to be major-league ready until early June.
Here’s tonight’s edition of The BlueJaysTalk, for your listening pleasure:
Interleague play is now upon us, as New York moves out so that New York can move in. The Blue Jays open up a three-game set with the Metropolitans on Friday night with a battle of lefties – Ricky Romero takes on Jonathan Niese. Romero has issued five walks in each of his last two starts, and he’s coming off his first loss of the season, so here’s hoping he turns things around against the blue-and-orange. Here’s also hoping that Alan Ashby is back with us – he was out sick tonight, batting a bad cold that’s ripped up his throat over the past few days. We’ll be on the air at 7:00PM Eastern. Join us, won’t you?
Please give me a follow on The Twitter, you can find me @wilnerness590. Yan Gomes can be found @Yan_AGomes.
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