1:08AM Eastern

The Blue Jays’ series opener in Texas was over early, as Brandon Morrow got knocked around to the tune of a six-run first inning and his teammates never had an answer for Rangers’ lefty Derek Holland.

It would have been a game on which to just turn the page and let drift into the vapours of history, except that a bunch of stuff happened that was worth noting, such as:

-Carlos Villanueva picked up Morrow with two out in the first – the shortest start of Morrow’s career – and took it all the way to the sixth, allowing only a couple of solo homers and striking out seven.  He threw 66 pitches and was reasonably effective, which could open up a string of conversation suggesting that he take over as the 5th starter should the Blue Jays make a move in the rotation.  It doesn’t appear as though he’d need much stretching out at all.

-Ryota Igarashi made his Blue Jays’ debut and pitched very much like the guy who got knocked around with the Mets the last two years as opposed to the guy who dominated PCL hitters in Las Vegas the last seven weeks.  After issuing only three walks in 21 innings with the 51′s, Igarashi walked the first batter he faced, Josh Hamilton, and then gave up four singles – three of which were line-drive shots up the middle.  He did strike out a pair, but Alan Ashby pointed out during the broadcast that he could see how Igarashi’s stuff could dominate in the minor leagues, and not so much in the bigs.  He added, though, that it’s a very small sample.  However, it should have been a lot smaller of a sample; Igarashi threw 41 pitches in his one inning of work.

-Edwin Encarnacion went deep, which is always nice.  It was his 15th home run of the season, and seventh of the month of May – a month in which he’s struggled in most other facets of his offensive game.  The homer was the only run the Blue Jays scored in the first seven innings.

-Yan Gomes made his major-league debut as a catcher, moving from first base to behind the plate in the bottom of the 7th, though he didn’t get to catch much.  Not a lot of Jason Frasor’s pitches got past the Rangers’ bats, and then he didn’t get to catch a big-league pitcher in the 8th.  Which brings us to……

-Jeff Mathis pitched the bottom of the 8th!  With the odds of a comeback exceedingly long and a bit of a need to save the bullpen, Mathis was called upon to throw with the Blue Jays down by 11.  He flashed an 88 mile-an-hour fastball and mixed in the occasional curve and change-up, and was the only Blue Jay of the evening to not allow a run.  Watching position players pitch is always kind of fun, especially when they do well, and Mathis is the second in as many years to do it for the Jays – Mike McCoy took the mound last season and he, too, threw a shutout frame.

To cap the night, we had one of the best callers in the entire history of The BlueJaysTalk after the game – a self-proclaimed Baseball Deity who knew everything there was to know about baseball and followed all major-league teams very, very closely.  He wondered why the Blue Jays didn’t go after guys like Gino Gonzalez, P.J. Wilson or that great righty from the Cubs, Mark Buehrle, this past winter.  Here’s the show, for your listening pleasure:

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Before the game, the Blue Jays made a couple of moves, bringing Igarashi and David Cooper up from Las Vegas, sending down Evan Crawford and putting Ben Francisco on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain.  Cooper will be mostly a bench player as Yan Gomes gets the lion’s share of the first base at-bats for the time being, and he’s likely just a placeholder until Vladimir Guerrero is ready to come up.  Crawford will definitely be back – the Blue Jays love his stuff, and though his overall numbers have been pretty awful in his two short stints, he still has managed to hold left-handed hitters to a .133 batting average and a .533 OPS.

The series continues Saturday afternoon, and it’s Henderson Alvarez being charged with helping the Blue Jays snap what’s now a three-game losing streak.  He’ll face Rangers’ Opening Day starter Colby Lewis.  We’ll be on the air across the Blue Jays Radio Network with the pre-game show at 2:30PM Eastern, and those of you listening on Sportsnet590 The Fan or here on this very website will get the treat of an extra half-hour pre-game beginning at 2:00PM Eastern.  We’ll talk to mlb.com’s own Gregor Chisholm, and get the word on baseball in Hawaii from Oakland’s Kila Ka’aihue. 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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14 Responses to “Sort Of A Night To Forget”
  1. 1.

    I was at the game tonight in Arlington. During the first AB to Kinsler I knew it was gonna be a bad night for Morrow. He wasn’t fooling anyone with any of his pitches. Kinsler’s AB was proof, he fouled off 10-12 never missing.

    My beef is with the Manager. I understand wanting your pitcher to work through it but pulling him after giving up 6 runs and zero ‘swing & misses’… it was simply too late. Farrell sunk the ship before the offence even had a chance.

    I was sitting in the very last possible seat before falling out of the Ballpark in Arlington and I could see what was about to happen. What was Farrell watching?

    MW: First of all, I’m sorry that you went all the way to Texas and had to see THAT game. But you couldn’t see what was about to happen, and nor could John Farrell. Often a pitcher goes out with less than his best stuff, manages to get out of the first inning before it really blows up on him and then breezes through the rest of the game. On several occasions in that first inning, Morrow was one ground ball away from getting out of it with minimal damage. Yanking your starter in the first inning isn’t something to be done lightly, or on a “feeling”.

    - Jason
  2. 2.

    Mike, How can a whole staff (well it’s not everyone, of course), suddenly start walking so many batters? I would like to see your comments on the role of the pitching coach when something like this happens.

    Is there fault to be laid on the pitching coach? I don’t know pitching coaches and pitching coaching at all, but I have so much trouble believing that a whole staff can start walking so many batters unless there is something external to the individual pitchers that is affecting the whole staff. The pitching coach seems a prime suspect, if for no other reason than close proximity.

    Could this be a psychological thing that happens to pitchers…”OMG everybody is walking so many, I can’t do that…”, and then it happens and it bites into everyone?

    Searching for explanations, as are many I’m sure…

    MW: Definitely – everyone is searching for an explanation, and if it was all that easy to find, it’d get fixed in a hurry. Bruce Walton has been here a long time, it seems pretty counter-intuitive to think that something he said or did could have brought this on.

    - Steve in HH
  3. 3.

    We have been for the most part this season been getting by with excellent results from mediocre performances in regards to the starting pitching.

    It shouldn’t be any surprise to see the BABIP for our SP to normalize based on the Batted Ball data (starters BABIP is .240 xBABIP is .320).

    Which is why our tERA is 5.16 and our actual era is 3.84.

    The conclusion of the caller was right about the need to upgrade the starting rotation, even if he was unable to make a compelling argument as to why.

    MW: For the last two years, Brandon Morrow’s real performance-based, historical stats have not been nearly as good as his “nerd stats”, so maybe this is a positive regression for him. Also, I don’t think FIP and such will ever be kind to Henderson Alvarez.

    - stuck_in_analog
  4. 4.

    On Gods and mortals…

    I believe the deity also called Gonzalez a right-hander, not just Buehrle.

    But I think that you got rattled in the deity’s presence because you seemed under the belief that the Nationals were the team that traded Gonzalez away, rather than the A’s.

    MW: There is no question that he got me off my game, but only because I was laughing so hard.

    - Curious George
  5. 5.

    Mark,

    I had a good laugh when I heard the baseball deity call in. Your first hint was that he didn’t know your name. Best call ever? I don’t think so.

    I could understand the frustration though. Both the #1 and #2 starters Romero, and Morrow got knocked around, victims of walks. Now, Drabek is 2nd in the AL among regular starters in walks, while Romero is 5th. This is not good. Yes, Romero’s BB/9 is about the same as Darvish and Bucholz. Bucholz is not successful, with a ERA of 7.84, while Darvish’s K/9 is sitting 2nd in the league. Throw strikes. Throwing 204 pitches in 8 innings is not good.

    The relief staff is not much better when it comes to walks. Only Janssen and Oliver are better than the league average in walks.

    Anyway, a terrible start for Morrow, who couldn’t really get past the 1st batter. It was great to see him have great performances on two starts in a row.

    The Jays are still over .500 though but I will argue that the team’s pitching stats against RISP is not going to get any better than it is right now. What that means that as that statistic normalizes (and teams start to hit normally with RISP), the Jays are going to lose more games, unless something else gets better. I will argue that Drabek has been lucky so far.

    I am hoping for a couple of wins in Texas, or at least one. A 2-4 road trip against teams who are better in the standings than they are is not awful. The team is struggling offensively, and its pitching now is too.

    - Tim in Niagara Falls
  6. 6.

    Mike,

    Will the Jays be in on Cal Hamels this off-season?

    - Andrew
  7. 7.

    HI Mike,

    Can you please look at pictures of Romero last year and the year before compared to this year? Even towards the end of last year I thought he was putting on weight. When I saw him in the spring it was quite obvious…he has not quite Brett Cecil’ed himself in terms of weight gain, but I am wondering if his lack of conditioning has something to do with his struggles? I mean, it may not be a huge factor, but it can’t help. Also, what is the deal with all of these walks from almost everyone?? It is driving me nuts- basbeball-etically anyway, it’s not really affecting my life though.

    MW: I’m very glad to hear it’s not affecting your life outside fandom. I haven’t looked at any pictures, but it doesn’t appear to me as though Romero is significantly heavier this year than he was last.

    - chris
  8. 8.

    Hello Mark,

    OK, just listened to Rob and needed to make a comment…I don’t often LOL while listening to the Blue Jays Talk (on demand) but this was great. You covered it quite well yourself, but I am wondering, do you think Rob is the same guy from two years ago who, with all due respect, and all intensive purposes, was usually on the in game chat, and asking when Aaron Cibia will be called up? :) And why did we not go after P.J.???

    MW: I have no idea if he’s the same guy – but I respect your great memory!

    - chris
  9. 9.

    Mike

    the baseball god was the best call!! It was too funny you wondereded if it was all a set up

    MW: It might have been a set up, but if it was, it was pretty damn funny. And if the caller was just a troll, he was respectful, civil and polite.

    - Francis
  10. 10.

    Wondered if you had any thoughts on the apparent lack of interest displayed by the bullpen in Eric Thames when he wiped out in front of them the other day. The Drunk Jays Fan blog has ‘asked the question’ so to speak.

    MW: My thoughts are likely the same as yours – why did they let him lie there for so long? I’m assuming there was some communication while he was on the ground, though.

    - Ben
  11. 11.

    I dont think the blue jays plan was to finsih fifth in the divison and lose more then 81 games. Theyw ere supposed to be better then last year and 2010 when they won 85 games.

    AA = Overrated

    MW: I don’t think that was the plan, either, but then I don’t see either of those things happening. It’s not as though they’re on pace to finish fifth or to lose more thAn 81 games, so I don’t really get where you’re coming from.

    - Ron
  12. 12.

    It speaks volumes about the current Blue Jay team when a review of last night’s box score confirms that the back-up catcher was their best pitcher of the game. Now I know Wilner will counter that it’s only one game and that they are not that far into the season (YADA, YADA, YADA) but from this corner, it is becoming more and obvious that this squad doesn’t have the horses to compete with the big boys!!
    Unfortunately, as long as AA continues to fill the roster with young players not yet ready for major league play and/or other team cast-offs, this probably will continue to be the case.
    MW continues to suggest that the Orioles will fade in the stretch but if the BJs continue to lose 2 out of 3 to the Rays and probably get swept by the Rangers, then I would suggest that whereever the Orioles finish, the Jays will finish behind them (and you can take that to the bank)!
    Oh well, there’s alway next year or the year after that or the year after that.
    SIGH!!!!!

    MW: I appreciate that you know I will counter with reason, logic and the truth. Thank you!

    - WASAGA WILLY
  13. 13.

    You disappoint me man with how rude you are to your callers if you slightly disagree with them. the blue jays talk buddy where fans let THERE opinions. your paid to listen not flap your gums.

    MW: You disappoint me with your complete lack of command of the language. I’m not a psychologist, I’m not paid to listen. I’m paid to engage and to entertain. I’m also not rude to people with whom I slightly disagree, but a lot of people are very rude to me. But what it comes down to is that the forum is not there for me to be talked at, but for me to have a conversation, and if a caller isn’t interested in having a conversation and is simply interested in shouting me down when I’m trying to talk, that caller’s not going to be on the show very long.

    - Jeff
  14. 14.

    Rod from Scarborough was certainly a little different, but in the 5 years I’ve been listening to you, the callers who stand out were the guy who suggested they trade Vernon Wells for Tike Redmon and they guy who got very disgusted when you dissed his suggestion they make Ernie whitt the GM.

    - Jim in Ohio
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