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:
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?
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