19 June 2017
8-1 Loss vs. Tampa
Season Record: 31-33
Before begrudgingly discussing tonight’s fairly troubling outcome, we continue our list of the best seasons by starting pitchers in Toronto Blue Jays history with numbers 9, 8 and 7.
9. DAVE STIEB – 1983 – The fourth of six consecutive well above average seasons before wear and tear started diminished him somewhat, 1983 began his formal ascendancy to a position as one of the game’s best pitchers. He threw 278 innings over 36 starts, allowed 223 hits and walked 93 batters (and in none of those categories did he lead the league, just to lend a little perspective on how different pitchers were used thirty years ago). He also struck out 187 batters and finished with a 3.04 ERA, which was over 40% better than the American League average. He did lead the league in hit batters, because he was also a highly competitive prick and he threw inside a fair bit.
8. JIMMY KEY – 1987 – In his finest season as a Blue Jay, Jimmy Key won 17 games, threw over 260 innings and led the American League in ERA (2.76), WHIP (1.057) and ERA+(164), finishing second in that year’s American League Cy Young Award voting to Boston’s Roger Clemens. In a year where Dave Stieb struggled with injuries and diminished stuff, Key became the team’s erstwhile ace. He was the tough luck loser in the final game of the year vs. Detroit, throwing a complete game 1-0 loss to Frank Tanana in a painful game that completed the Jays’ late season collapse and sealed the Tigers’ miraculous comeback to win the American League East that year.
7. ROY HALLADAY – 2002 – At age 25, Roy Halladay had his first dominating season, instantly becoming Toronto’s best starting pitcher, despite tough competition from stud rotation mates like Steve Parris, Justin Miller and Brandon Lyon. During the first season of new General Manager J.P. Ricciardi’s tenure, generally regarded as the blackest period in Blue Jays history (even though he did have the decency to fire Buck Martinez as manager), Halladay was the only bright light on an embarrassingly underwhelming pitching staff. He led the American League with 239.1 innings pitched, finished with a 2.93 ERA and allowed an average of just 0.4 home runs per 9 innings. Amazingly he did not receive a singe vote in that year’s Cy Young race, despite his 7.4 WAR season leading all pitchers in the American League that year. Because Barry Zito was a much better pitcher…
I haven’t written it yet, but I’m pretty sure that this summary will be bitchy and perfunctory, because, really, what’s to say? Facing a division rival after a day off, the Blue Jays had their most experienced starting pitcher going against a guy making his second MLB start as an emergency injury replacement. Everything seemed to be tilted in Toronto’s favour for a win tonight. The only problem : it was the fucking Rays. This Toronto team that still considers itself a contender managed just one meaningless run against two pitchers named Jacob Faria and Austin Pruitt, who I honestly would have believed were the two best dodge ball players in my kid’s phys-ed class because I’d literally never heard either of their names before. Also I went out for dinner with friends tonight, got home late and a little tipsy and had to watch this recorded catastrophe into the wee hours, so frankly I’m really in no mood.
COULDA, WOULDA, SHOULDA
After Troy Tulowitzki hit a bloop single to right to put runners on first and second with one out in the second inning, Russell Martin promptly did a textbook job of grounding into a double play. I suppose it was too much to hope that those two deadweights COULDA had hits in the same inning. We shouldn’t push our luck. They did at least both each have a meaningless hit today. Do I sound bitter? Wait until we’re having to watch those two still being highly paid starters in 2019. It’s going to be a painful couple of years at a couple of key spots, folks. Remember how handcuffed the Blue Jays are by those two contracts before you speak glowingly about how great Alex Anthopolous was as a G.M.
After he got battered in his last start, I was worried that Marco Estrada might be tipping his pitches. Now, I’m starting to hope he’s tipping them. If not, and he is now a 4.5 ERA guy who allows 12 hits (!!), was lucky to allow just 6 earned runs in 3 1/3 innings vs. a lineup featuring heavyweights like Taylor Featherstone, Mallex Smith and Daniel Robertson and he isn’t tipping his pitches, then he and this team are both in a lot of trouble. I can imagine that Estrada WOULDA wanted to burn tonight’s game film as soon as it was over. If I were him and pitching coach Pete Walker, I’d be looking at it very closely in hopes they can find something, because he has not been fooling anyone the last few weeks. He now has an ERA well over 7.00 vs. in his last five starts vs. the Rays.
If Colby Rasmus, the hayseed former Jays centre fielder and walking fashion crime who is currently sporting the Amish Heroin Dealer look is making big catches, getting multiple hits and driving in runs all in the same game against you, you SHOULDA known it wasn’t going to be your night. Judging from his time spent playing in Toronto, he only has games like this about as often as The National release a new album, so on the rare occasion when it happens, it bodes poorly for the other team. I sound cranky, I know, but it’s late and watching this game while knowing the result is depressing me. The Jays again had a chance to get to .500 and move out of last place in the division tonight and again they choked out the bit. In addition I made the mistake of not starting Rays outfielder Corey Dickerson on my fantasy team tonight and he got 4 hits including a home run so I don’t even get any guilty pleasure. Also, my meal was expensive and not really that good. I just need to go to bed. I think I’ll take the Blue Jays sheets off the bed first, though – just to punish Marco Estrada.
7-6 Win vs. Tampa
Season Record: 32-33
Before we plan a parade route after tonight’s win over the Tampa Bay Rays, let’s continue our countdown of the best seasons ever by Blue Jays starting pitchers. It’s getting down to the nitty gritty – here are seasons 6 through 4.
6. DAVE STIEB – 1984 – In a season in which the naive fraternity of baseball writers voted Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Willie Hernandez as both the A.L.’s Cy Young winner and MVP, Stieb finished a preposterous 7th place in voting for the Cy Young, receiving just one solitary vote. This despite leading the league in innings (267) and ERA+ (146) and striking out 198 batters. But Hernandez’ Tigers were an unstoppable juggernaut, winning 35 of their first 40 games that season and going virtually unchallenged on their way to a World Series title. Even though Stieb was indisputably more valuable that season (7.9 WAR to just 4.8 for Hernandez), he ‘only’ won 16 games that year, and so he was overlooked by the underinformed, and not for the last time.
5. PAT HENTGEN – 1996 – This was the season that Hentgen became the first Blue Jays pitcher to win a Cy Young Award, and though he was the deserved winner, he shouldn’t have been their first. I can remember worrying that American writers would give it to Andy Pettitte, whom he edged out in a close race. Hentgen led the A.L. in innings (265,2), complete games (10) and shutouts (3), finishing with a 156 ERA+ and a 20-10 record. In the apex of the steroid era, pitching that many innings at that level was reason enough for an award. ‘Armed’ with a 91-92 MPH four-seam fastball, a mediocre cutter and a good curve, no pitcher in Blue Jays history did more with less. His fearless, tenacious approach more than compensated for his middle of the road stuff and he was rewarded for it by having his best season forever immortalized.
4. ROGER CLEMENS -1998 – His second season in Toronto, his second consecutive Cy Young Award, his second consecutive season leading the A.L. in ERA (2.65) , wins (20) and strikeouts (271). His numbers the previous year were better in all those categories, which is why this season is rated slightly lower. You could make an argument that Clemens’ two seasons in Toronto were the best two by any starting pitcher in the team’s history and I really couldn’t argue. His brief tenure in Toronto seems like it never happened somehow. He’s the Kim Campbell of Toronto baseball. It was a real coup when he came here as a free agent and he really didn’t do anything to complain about (ok, other than probably take steroids), but he wanted to leave because the team sucked and ownership wasn’t going to spend the money needed to win. Which was 100% correct. If we’re honest with ourselves I think as fans we’re just mad at him because he broke up with us. That venom should be directed at those disreputable Swedes from Interbrew instead. Aiming vitriol at Clemens is more fun, though, am I right?
BASKING IN THE GLORY
(after each win, three things that might have been the difference)
A BIG PLAY After Joe Smith had what was maybe his second bad outing for the Blue Jays, surrendering three earned runs in the eighth inning, the game was tied 6-6. With the Jays having failed to capitalize on earlier opportunities (2 for 12 with runners in scoring position) and the top of the Rays’ order due up in the ninth, the game’s momentum had taken an unforeseen turn in Tampa’s favour. The bottom three hitters in the Jays order were due up against hard-throwing left-handed young phenom Jose Alvarado. After just two pitches, though, the Jays were in the lead again after Russ Martin hit a deep, no-doubter home run to right centre field. For Martin, who has been struggling mightily at the plate, to exorcise some demons against a team that perennially outplays Toronto, it might have been his biggest hit of the season.
A BIG MOMENT Already trailing 2-1 thanks to a Ryan Goins error and a swinging bunt, Blue Jays starting pitcher Francisco Liriano loaded the bases with none out in the fourth inning. After Marco Estrada’s poor showing yesterday, Toronto’s worn out bullpen could ill afford another six inning night of triage. Liriano needed to figure a way out without irreparable damage and he managed to do it. He induced a weak grounder to third from Derek Norris to force a runner at the plate for the first out, then a deep, run scoring sac fly ball for the second, then struck out Peter Bourjos to escape with just one run allowed and keep his team in the game. He would rally from that point and get 9 of the next 10 batters out after this to complete 7 innings and put himself and his team in position for a win. Toronto’s best chance of going on a streak and getting back in the thick of the race rests on the shoulders of their starting pitching. Liriano will need more nights like this one to stay a part of their rotation when Aaron Sanchez returns.
…AND A LITTLE THING In the third inning, Corey Dickerson (yes, I started him in my fantasy team tonight) hit a two run triple with one out to put the Rays up 2-1. Then, Evan Longoria hit a two hopper to Josh Donaldson at third base. JD made an aggressive play, catching the ball while going to his left and then turning back to the right and throwing home to nab a sliding Dickerson as he attempted to score. It was a ballsy move, one that would have really hurt Toronto if it backfired, extending the inning and likely expediting Liriano’s departure from the game. Instead, it kept Tampa within range and Liriano afloat.
NOTES FROM MY COUCH
In a game that proved that speed on the basepaths is the new “Moneyball” market correction (newly called up Rays outfielder Mallex Smith is a Flash-like blur, Pillar scoring the Jays first run after attempting a steal of second, then moving to third on a throwing error), Kendrys Morales did his part, too. In the third inning, he actually hit a ball slowly enough that they couldn’t double him up at first base. Give the big man credit, though. He did everything he could to hustle down the line and barely beat the throw. On a night when every run counted, his hustle was key, even if it didn’t look pretty. I would have made this note the “…and a little thing” part of the writeup, but that dude hustling down the line to beat a throw is not a little thing. He probably needed to be brought back to life once he crossed first base.
11-4 Loss vs. CWS
Season Record: 32-34
That trumpet sound you’re hearing in your head is the conclusion of our countdown of the best seasons in Toronto Blue Jays history by starting pitchers. After that, we’ll address tonight’s monstrosity. If any of these seasons surprise you, you probably haven’t been a fan for very long. That’s okay. That’s why I’m here.
3. ROY HALLADAY – 2003 – I think the most shameful thing about the Blue Jays in the first decade of the 21st century is that they failed to get both Roy Halladay and Carlos Delgado, perhaps their two greatest homegrown players, anywhere near a playoff appearance while playing in Toronto. In 2003, the failure of ownership was never more apparent, with both men having the best seasons of their careers, but being surrounded with below average players like Chris Woodward, Dave Berg, Cory Lidle and Mark Hendrickson being called on to play major roles. In his most “Pearls before Swine” season, Halladay’s monastic work ethic and fanatical commitment level put his performance on a plane few others ever reached. He blocked out his surroundings enough to lead the American League in innings (266), starts (36), complete games (9) and strikeout to walk ratio (an absurd 6.38), making him just the third pitcher since Cy Young (yes, that guy they named the award after) to have over 200 strikeouts and less than 35 walks in the same season. He won the Cy Young Award in the first season he ever received a vote, though Pedro Martinez probably could have made an argument that year.
2. DAVE STIEB – 1985 – In a season where he led the American League with a 2.48 ERA, threw 265 innings and truly mastered his slider (possibly the best single pitch of the 1980’s BTW), allowing just 7.0 hits per 9 innings, Stieb still only managed a 7th place tie in voting for that year’s Cy Young Award. He didn’t deserve to win – Kansas City’s Bret Saberhagen clearly was better that year, but 7th? Behind such luminaries as Donnie Moore and Dan Petry? Viewed from 2017, the results speak to a writers’ bias that is capricious, anti-Canadian and, well, kinda bitchy. In 1984 Stieb didn’t get the consideration he deserved because Willie Hernandez pitched for a winning team, but in 1985 the Jays finally were a division winning team, and Stieb still didn’t get close to the votes he deserved. He even finished behind his teammate Doyle Alexander even though he threw more innings and had an ERA that was a full run lower. I guess he should have been nicer to the media, because they clearly didn’t have any good feelings for him. For a pitcher who is still among the Top 60 in MLB history in WAR to have fallen off the Hall of Fame ballot in his first season of eligibility with just 1.4% of the vote speaks to a writer/player relationship that was lacking something. He remains one of the most overlooked pitchers in MLB history.
1. ROGER CLEMENS – 1997 – In his first season in Toronto after 13 years with the Boston Red Sox, Clemens had one of the best seasons of his peerless career, winning his 4th Cy Young Award (with three more still to come). He probably remains the biggest free agent acquisition in Blue Jays history, and is without question the most successful. It is easily among the five or six best seasons ever by a free agent pitcher in his first season with a new team. He led the A.L. in innings (264), ERA (2.05 – at the height of the steroid era), strikeouts (292), WHIP (1.030) and complete games (9). The Jays were a mess that season, with youngsters Shawn Green, Jose Cruz, Chris Carpenter, Kelvim Escobar and Shannon Stewart not ready to be stars yet and the likes of Orlando Merced, Carlos Garcia, Benito Santiago, Otis Nixon and Joe Carter making a motley crew of below average old guys. I honestly don’t blame him for not wanting to stay very long.
Tonight marked the seventh time this season the Blue Jays have had the chance to reach .500 on the season. They are 0-for-7 in those games. I don’t know what it means and I don’t know what’s causing it, but that is not a statistic that screams ‘playoff team’. Er, “PLAYOFF TEAM”. Despite Baltimore having a horrendous stretch the last month and the Rays hovering around .500 all year, the Jays have steadfastly refused the optical psychological edge it might provide them to get ahead of those two and out of the American League East basement. They’re still down there and it certainly seems like they’re getting comfortable.
COULDA, WOULDA, SHOULDA
(after each loss, three things that might have made a difference.)
Joe Biagini was not good tonight. Full stop. No sane person would try to defend allowing 8 hits, a walk and 6 earned runs while getting just 3 outs, especially when the opposing lineup includes three players even a self-confessed baseball dork like myself couldn’t identify in a Hong Kong police lineup. There was a moment, though, when I thought Russell Martin COULDA helped him out early. With the first two runners of the game on base after an unlucky infield hit and a walk, Biagini had fallen behind White Sox slugger Jose Abreu 3-0. When a pitcher is struggling with his location and form as Biagini was tonight, a catcher will often call for a curveball because it makes pitchers stay behind the ball, better maintaining their delivery, rather than just trying to rear back and throw hard. Martin tried that exact move later but the game was already out of hand. However, with the game still young, he called for a fastball on a 3-0 count and Abreu sat on it and crushed it for a triple to deep right field which opened a wound that neither Martin nor Biagini could cauterize before it was too late.
My daughter went to this game with her school tonight. She’d been looking forward to it for two months. I even bought her a new Jays cap for the occasion. (For the record, it’s black with a white logo on the front. Pretty sharp. She picked it.) I WOULDA thought she could have at least been spared the horror of witnessing Darwin Barney get his first hit in what feels like a month, only to then have Steve Pearce thrown out at home plate on an absolutely perfect throw from left field by former Jay Melky Cabrera. Melky is a legendarily poor, Carreraesque defensive outfielder (I’m pretty sure he blacked out right after he made that play) and my daughter is likely going to be traumatized by being forced to watch that happen to her team. Yesterday she was bummed because their bus home was probably going to have to leave before the game was over. I bet she and her friends were delighted to get on that bus by the time 930 rolled around tonight. I just hope the Board of Education had grief counsellors ready on site when they returned back to the school grounds. At least they got to go to Ripley’s Aquarium first.
It was a weird combination of reactions from fans as Biagini walked off the mound after being replaced by John Gibbons in the second inning. Some fans booed, which I can’t really understand because this was literally his only really bad appearance in this entire season. Other fans gave him a standing ovation, which he certainly did not deserve, either. (I’ll give him a standing ovation the next time he successfully prevents a guy from stealing second on him. You’d think that, pitching out of the stretch the entire time…oh, never mind). In much the same way that the folks at Coors Light do a lot of unnecessary stuff to let their moron customers know the can is cold (duh), fans at Jays home games do a lot of stupid shit (note- future column idea!) but tonight they were probably just shell shocked and unsure what to do. They SHOULDA known the proper fan etiquette after a poor performance from a well-liked player – a nice, brief, golf clap while making minimal eye contact for a few seconds as he approaches the dugout and then immediately begin pretending it never happened. Just like grief counsellors have taught me to do these last 40 seasons.
NOTES FROM MY COUCH
I keep calling Jays relief pitcher Dominic Leone “Sergio” instead of his correct name. I’m sure he’s an interesting guy, but I doubt he’s the same dude who directed The Good, The Bad and They Ugly. Whenever he enters the game, he should make sure the theme music from that movie is played, though.
At the start of the season, I predicted that Kendrys Morales would hit more home runs than former Blue Jay Edwin Encarnacion this year. They both hit their 14th home run of the season tonight. The only problem is that I can tell from the way he looks at the plate right now that Edwin is getting into one of those zones where he can’t miss for a few weeks. Morales I still can’t figure out. My bold prediction is in trouble. Weird, because I’m usually right on the money with those things (ahem). Maybe Coors Light could design a can that changes colour when you’re about to make a stupid prediction just to get attention.
5-2 Loss vs. CWS
Season Record: 32-35
We (well, okay, I) keep talking about how the next step for the Blue Jays is reaching the .500 mark. That, inevitably on their way back to playoff contention, they will reach .500 by a certain date that keeps moving and then, they’ll go on a run. What if we’re wrong? What if there is no next step? I have to confess I have my doubts that there is another gear that this team has yet to find.
I’m not declaring their season over. I’ve watched long enough to know that baseball lore is full of surprises and shocks and baseball history full of comebacks and collapses of historical proportions. The mathematical odds of it happening don’t really matter much when we’re not even halfway through a season. Everything went wrong for Toronto in April. Things evened out in May, though Toronto never were really healthy or dominant at any point, so June seemed destined to be the month where everything was going to come together and the Blue Jays would make a run, as they had the previous two seasons. Right now that’s hard to believe in. Less star-studded but more dynamic and versatile teams like the White Sox, who scored runs tonight using both braun and speed, bring into sharp relief how unidimensional Toronto’s offence is and how frustrating it is as a fan to behold how easily they can be pitched to. To watch a AAAA pitcher like Mike Pelfrey, who was released by the pitching-starved Tigers this spring, dominate them simply because he threw everything away and the Jays almost uniformly insisted on trying to pull every pitch, culminating in one of their least inspiring games this year. Not a single Jays player had more than one hit tonight against arguably the worst starting pitcher in the American League.
It’s not so much that a comeback division title is mathematically unlikely. I think its unlikely with the personnel they’ve assembled on offence.
COULDA, WOULDA, SHOULDA
(after each loss, three things that could have made a difference)
Trailing 2-0 with runners on first and second base in the second inning, Ryan Goins hit a 1-2 pitch from Sandy Koufax…er, Mike Pelfrey tonight into deep right centre field. It was a high, arcing shot that split the outfielders perfectly and COULDA scored both runners (yes, even the Tulowitzki/Morales Piano Moving Co.) but it hopped over the wall for a ground rule double that kept Tulowitzki at third, where he was stranded two pitches later by – you guessed it – a ground ball pulled weakly to third base.
If the Blue Jays and their brain dead hitting coach Brook Jacoby could have made any adjustments, they WOULDA realized that the only hits they got tonight against Pelfrey were to the opposite field or up the middle. Here is exactly how Pelfrey’s six innings went down tonight.
1-ground out to SS (1), strike out swinging (2), strike out looking (3)
2- single to CF, strike out swinging (1), single to RF, lineout to RF (2), double to RF, groundout to 3B(3)
3-flyout to CF (1), groundout to SS (2), groundout to 3B (3)
4- struck out swinging (1), struck out swinging (2), pop out to 2B (3)
5 – ground out to SS (1), fly out to LF (2), lineout to RF (3)
6 – single to CF, ground into double play (SS to 2B to 1B) (1,2), pop out to 1B (3).
That doesn’t read like the at-bats of a group of players who are desperately scrapping to save their season, does it? Sure, sometimes you have to do the proverbial ‘tip your cap’ to a starting pitcher who was really on his game. With Pelfrey tonight, no cap-tipping was necessary. The Blue Jays took gigantic hacks at everything he threw and were shamefully impatient – no walks drawn and five strikeouts vs. the pitcher with the worst strikeout/walk ratio in the major leagues, who had allowed 8 walks vs. just 7 strikeouts in his last three starts.
I think Josh Donaldson SHOULDA avoided the temptation to watch Major League on cable last night. That movie is nearly irresistible once it comes into your viewing realm and features one of the highest joke-per-minute ratios in cinema history, but it can be a bad influence, too. J.D. was clearly bewitched by it, doing his best Roger Dorn impersonation today by committing two miscues (one error officially, but…come on) while trying to ole’ the ball off to the side instead of getting in front it. He got away with the first gaffe without hurting his team, but the second time was a backbreaking error in the 8th inning that allowed the White Sox to go up by two runs. The White Sox are 27-0 in games where they took a lead into the 8th inning this season and Donaldson greased the wheels for them to maintain that perfect record with his rough game on both sides of the ball today. Even Superman has an off night once in a while, folks. The problem is that the rest of Toronto’s Justice League were just as lost-looking today as well.
NOTES FROM MY COUCH
Even though its just for Father’s Day weekend, the light blue touches look sharp with the Blue Jays’ regular home uniforms. So much better than the fire engine red ones they’re force-feeding fans every Sunday at home games. If they try to combine those two elements today it could be historically hideous.
The White Sox have rid themselves of a lot of old players and their contracts (dare to dream) and are in the process of developing a young nucleus of players. This makes them underdogs against almost every team they face and as a result, they are playing like a team with nothing to lose. They are dynamic and aggressive on offence and that makes them exactly the David-like team that the slow-moving Goliath that is the 2017 Blue Jays can’t beat. They’ve now won 22 of their last 31 games vs. Toronto and are on their way to becoming the Tampa Bay Rays of the Central Time Zone.
I’m glad to see Rick Renteria get another chance to manage at the MLB level. He’s a smart guy and a great communicator and seems a perfect fit for this rebuilding team. The classless way he was fired by the crosstown Cubs after just one season in 2015 so they could hire big shot self-promoter Joe Madden was an unpleasant detail that got conveniently swept under the rug in the World Series lovefest.
If the pencil pushers in the Blue Jays’ front office want to find a new market inefficiency to exploit, a la Moneyball for 2017, I have a suggestion : the high, inside pitch. I’m not talking about hitting anyone on purpose – this is nothing that needs to be done hotblooded – but there are far too many comfortable hitters in baseball right now. Everyone has their feet firmly dug in as if they’re about to get in to Crow Position. If, in the back of his mind, a batter knows there’s a 7-10 per cent chance that the next pitch will come in underneath his chin at 94 MPH, believe me, he’ll be a little less brave and it will stop him from diving out and launching balls all over the yard. Other teams hate the Blue Jays already anyway – why not give them a better reason and make yourselves tough to hit against, too?
7-3 Win vs. CHW
Season Record: 33-35
Just sticking to the basics today. It was Fathers’ Day and I was busy eating brisket and bacon and drinking beer (also known by Health Canada as the Three B’s of good eating) while watching and my notes were badly smudged with bbq sauce. Frankly I don’t think you’re missing much. I wasn’t coming up with a lot of gems today, as I was somewhat distracted this afternoon.
I will say that the Blue Jays’ best offensive game this weekend game on a day when nearly half of their hits came on balls not hit to their pull side and they walked and were hit by a pitch more times than they struck out. I wonder if someone in management noticed. You know, like the manager and the hitting coach.
BASKING IN THE GLORY
(after each win, three things that might have been the difference)
A BIG PLAY – The Blue Jays haven’t played well this series, but they’ve also been a bit unlucky. In three games they’ve had three balls bounce over the wall for ground rule doubles, each of which cost them a run. In the fifth inning, Ryan Goins was robbed of a key base hit when the ball he hit bounced off Todd Frazier’s foot right to his shortstop instead of for a hit. Nothing was looking very promising. Tonight, with two outs and the bases empty in the sixth inning, the Blue Jays were trailing 3-1 and a crushing sweep at the hands of the lowly White Sox was looking like a very real possibility. Then, finally, the worm turned. Troy Tulowitzki hit a slow dribbler down the third base line which most times would have rolled foul but it somehow stayed fair for a cheap single. Five pitches later, Russell Martin hit a home run to right centre field that bounced off of the very top of the wall, just making it out and tying the game. It was back-to-back breaks for the two Jays players in most desperate need of them and it was the turning point in the game.
A BIG MOMENT – Right after that happened and the game was now tied, the Blue Jays could have been (and usually are) contented with themselves for their mini-comeback. In a rare double whammy, Steve Pearce, who’s new to the team and hasn’t learned how things work around here, was not contented with a tie and hit a single to the opposite field to prove it! I almost ate my hat when right after that Ryan Goins looped a ball to the right centre field gap and it didn’t bounce over the wall, scoring Pearce all the way from first base. Outfielder Avisail Garcia’s throw skipped past not one but two cutoff men and Goins was credited with a triple (which was an absurd scoring play, but we’ll take it). It was an unusually plucky pair of at-bats for the Blue Jays but it served as proof positive that sometimes you’re unlucky, but sometimes you can make your own luck.
…AND A LITTLE THING – Mercifully it didn’t have any effect on the outcome, but in the eighth inning a local fan did something stupid again. In another embarrassing display of ignorance, a mental midget in the left field line seats reached out to grab a ball that Steve Pearce had laced down the line for a double. Instead of letting it hit the wall and allowing a second run to score, his unquenchable desire to touch (that’s right, he didn’t even catch it) an unimportant $6 baseball cost his team what could have been a key run. Please, folks, if Toronto is ever going to be taken seriously as a baseball town, stuff like that has to stop. After seeing that rube pull that move today, I’m convinced it will be a public service to do a list of no-no, dumb-ass fan behaviours at the Rogers Centre that have to be stopped ASAP. (I’ll give you a hint about #1 : it rhymes with The Save.)
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