Tonight’s game against the Texas Rangers was Jose Bautista’s 1000th game as a Blue Jay.
The Rangers got an early lead in the 2nd when catcher Bobby Wilson hit his 2nd grand slam ever. Estrada had a rough start. There was hope in the 5th but only 1 run scored and the Rangers got another in the 6th on a passed ball. It seemed that the game was lost, but in the top of the 9th, Jose Bautista hit a double. Justin Smoak then brought him in with a home run making the score 5-4. Then, Tulowitzki followed up with a solo shot over the fence, tying the game at 5-5.
Again, I thought the umping was crooked and inconsistent. Obviously I thought he was calling against the Jays more often then for the Rangers. Ezequiel Carrera was again disappointing in centre field.
AND, in the 10th, Drew Stubbs who is not a home run hitter, hits a home run off Gavin Floyd, beating the Jays 6-5 in extra innings.
Did you know…?
Sam Dyson actually started his Major League career in 2012 with the Toronto Blue Jays.
R. A. Dickey was drafted by the Texas Rangers 20 years ago!
Batting Average = the ratio of a batter’s safe hits per official times at bat = hits/at bats = H/AB.
Walks don’t count in the numerator or denominator. A season batting average over .300 is excellent. For non-pitchers, below .230 is poor, and below .200 is unacceptable. The level .200 is also called the Mendoza Line named after Mario Mendoza, a stellar defensive shortstop with offensive shortcomings (hmm, remind you of anyone?).
Sabermetrics, the study of baseball stats, considers Batting Average a weak measure because it doesn’t correlate well with runs scores, therefore isn’t a great predictor of performance. It doesn’t account for walks or power, as compared to On Base Percentage and Slugging Percentage as well as On-Base Plus Slugging (OPS).
Right now, Michael Saunders is in 9th place in the American League with a AVG of .328. Justin Smoak is the only other regular on the Jays who is over .300. ‘Joey’ Bautista is below .230 and ‘Tulo’ Tulowitzki, Russ Martin and ‘Go-Go’ Goins are all below .200.
The Blue Jay Team AVG of .235 places them 13th out of 15 teams in the AL. They are however 7th in Runs at 150.
Clearly, the offense is the greatest weakness right now and if not for the amazing starting pitching for the most part, the Jays would probably be dead last. But, maybe, just maybe, things are starting to warm up and if all the pieces can fall together, they are going to be awesome.
Ohhh…so many good things about Saturday’s 9-3 win over the Oakland A’s at the Rogers Centre. The dome was closed. The game was sold out. Not surprisingly, the Jays are ranked 4th in attendance for their home games this year. Oakland’s 5-game win streak is over. The Jays 3-game losing streak is done. All is good.
J. A. Happ pitched 7 innings and allowed 3 runs. He did this despite only 1 strikeout, the first batter in the 1st inning. He also had only 1 walk and the 2nd batter hit a homerun. But otherwise, the Blue Jay defense neutralized the offense.
Gavin Floyd pitched the remaining 2 innings and did not allow any runs.
There was a bit of drama in the 6th when recently traded Liam Hendricks hit Donaldson with a pitch. In the 7th, Happ retaliated by hitting Khris Davis with a pitch (that he caught with his armpit). Gibby didn’t believe these were intentional. Gregg Zaun though for sure Happ’s was intentional. He may not have meant to hit the batter but threw inside as if to say, ‘Hey, if you keep pitching our guys inside, we’re going to have to do the same.’ The way Happ hit his glove afterward, suggests to me that at least he didn’t intend to hit the pitcher. This drama led to warnings issued to both sides.
Blue Jay defense cleaned up. No passed balls. Three double plays. Even Ezequiel Carrera looked great and made 2 Pillar style layout catches in left field. (I disagree with Gregg Zaun about them being TV dives.) I hadn’t realized that Carrera didn’t speak English until Hazel Mae interviewed him after the game. I mean, he’s rarely interviewed!
And the Offense…
Ahh…the offense that we know and love. Bautista and Martin RBIs to start. Then Josh Donaldson and that classic J. D. swing landed a 3-run homer off Oakland’s Bassitt. That broke the Jays 2-1 lead wide open to 5-1.
What did the Jays do different? Well, they started the game playing small ball. Hit by hit. No one tried to be the hero. Even Bautista seemed so happy to get 2 RBIs despite no hits. When the big bats aren’t working, that’s the way to win a la KC Royals right?
Did you notice…
What a good mood Bautista was in? He was smiling and chatty when he got back to the dugout after the RBIs. That must have lifted everyone’s spirits. Overall, a sign of awesomeness to come.
So R. A. Dickey had his typical bad 1st inning on Wednesday and allowed 3 Baltimore runs. The Toronto Blue Jays then slowly clawed their way back to a 3-3 tie scoring a run in the 3rd, 5th and 7th innings.
Michael Saunders scored on a single by Edwin Encarnacion in the 3rd. Josh Donaldson got his 6th homer of the season on a line drive to right centre field. He’s on pace to hit 59 homers this season! Possible? Heck yeah! (Well, on the other hand, he’s also on pace to have 187 strikeouts.) And Edwin got another RBI on a line drive double to score Saunders in the 7th to tie the game.
Things were looking promising for Josh Thole when he threw Nolan Reimold out trying to steal 2nd base in the bottom of the 9th, a la Russell Martin. But the elation wouldn’t last…
Ubaldo Jimenez’ pitching windup. Looks like his arm gets dislocated behind before he sling shots it over his head. This is after a praying mantis set-up.
#1 Pillar’s 1st at bat was pretty ugly. He pretty much gave up that he was looking for one away, (as he always does), so of course they jammed him up on the inside.
#2 Ryan Goins stole 2nd base in the 4th inning although didn’t make it home. But in the 6th, he was thrown out at home on a line drive single by Josh Thole.
#3 I’m liking Michael Saunders in the number 1 slot for hitting, but not so much his baserunning. Twice on Wednesday he made a mistake baserunning from 3rd base. In the 1st inning he succumbed to the double play after the pitcher caught the line drive by Encarnacion and threw Saunders out at 3rd.
Then in the 7th, he again didn’t stay on the bag until the pop fly was caught and by the time he went back to tag, he was too late to run home. Luckily, he was then sent home by Edwin with his double. So is there a stat for baserunning? Turns out there is.
BsR (Base running runs above average, includes Stolen Bases or Caught Stealing)
Saunders -0.7 compared to Pillar 0.5 and Donaldson 0.6.
So yeah, Saunders needs some baserunning practice.
What’s worse than a catcher that can’t catch? The bottom of the 10th. Extra innings. I’m not sure why Gavin Floyd wasn’t left in to pitch the 9th. He’s certainly doing better than Storen, and if the Jays successfully made it through the 9th, they knew they would need another arm. But after switching to Storen for the 9th, which he barely got out of, they had to bring Biagini in for the 10th. He loaded the bases but that wasn’t the worst of it. Josh Thole had a passed ball with Adam Jones batting, and the ball got far away from him so the winning run scored. Is that not the worst way to lose or what?
Full House Home Opener
I was one of the 48 871 who was at the Rogers Centre for the home opener of 2016. Marcus Stroman pitching. Josh Donaldson playing despite his calf strain. The place – was – packed! Josh gets presented his AL MVP award by George Bell. New logos are unveiled. And the players run onto the field with their names announced, but oops! The announcer skips Michael Saunders who runs out while the announcer’s already moved on to Russell Martin. Ouch! The nice, polite Canadian, who’s dreamed of playing for the Blue Jays, who missed ALL of last season with a busted knee, who no one talked about because we all talked about Stroman’s busted knee, finally gets to start the 2016 Home Opener…and they skip his name…
What else was funny? I don’t know how many times clips from last year’s playoffs will be on the Jumbotron this season, but I loved seeing David Price up there celebrating with the Jays, and he and his team watching it from the Boston dugout.
In 2015, the Blue Jays went 93-69 scoring a total of 891 runs, by far the most runs in the League. Now, how many times did the Jays score 7 or more runs? 57 times.
How many times did the Jays LOSE when they scored 7 or more runs? 4.
So the probability of winning when they scored at least 7? 93%.
Well, unfortunately Friday night’s game went against the odds.
The bottom of the 4th was an awesome half inning. The Jays went into it behind 2-1, but then, Michael Saunders gets on base, Russell Martin gets his first hit of the season, Ryan Goins gets on, then Darwin Barney hits a single and Saunders scores. Kevin Pillar is then hit by pitch right in the helmet, and Martin scores. (You can tell Pillar used to play football, because he never seems too bothered by getting hit in the head!). So with the bases still loaded and no one out, who comes to bat but the AL MVP, Josh Donaldson, who proceeds to hit the 2nd Grand Slam of his career! So perfect, and we ultimately leave the inning with a 7-2 lead.
So what happened? How did we end up losing our much anticipated Home Opener 8-7? At the top of 6th, Marcus Stroman got yanked after he loaded the bases. Then Brock Holt proceeded to hit HIS Grand Slam with Jesse Chavez pitching. How irritating that they rained on our Grand Slam parade! The crowd was shocked. It was silent at Rogers Centre as all 48 871 of us watched the ball sail over the right field wall. Silent as the 4 BoSoxers trotted around the bases. Chavez then got out of the inning, with a flyout and a strikeout, and walked back to the dugout, shaking his head. And then in the 7th, Storen left 2 runners on and these 2 scored with Brett Cecil on the mound, putting the Red Sox ahead 8-7.
The Jays made a comeback attempt in the 8th replacing Barney with Smoak to hit, then replacing Smoak with Carrera to run. Carrera proceeds to successfully steal 2nd base, and the crowd is cheering again. It looks like we’ve got a chance when Donaldson gets into the batter’s box, but no, he grounds out to end the inning. So, guess what, who’s going to play 3rd base now? Russell Martin who proceeds to field a groundball and throws out the runner at 1st.
In total, the Jays went through 6 pitchers, Stroman, Chavez, Storen, Cecil, Floyd, Biagini in that order.
Seem a bit unusual to you? I get that Gibbons is feeling out the bullpen, and they need to work or the Spring Training work is wasted, and yeah, the bullpen failed us. But obviously the decision to bring Chavez in for Stroman wasn’t a good one. Easy to say in retrospect. His win probability in a clutch situation 2015 was 0.01. I’m assuming bases fully loaded is considered high leverage?
Should Floyd have come in next instead of Chavez? Should Stroman have been left in?
Maybe there was no intention to use Floyd but they were forced to later when Cecil didn’t have it? Maybe the 5-run lead at the time seemed a safe enough position to have Chavez pitch? Not sure.
As with the last game, I would argue that a WIN would have been a big deal, it being the home opener and the most anticipated sports event in Canada for the past 6 months, and that they needed to bring out their best and do what they needed to win, then hey go ahead and start experimenting after that. They say 10-15 more games and they’ll have the bullpen settled. Man that sounds like a long time. The sooner the better.
The Jays lost the 4th game of their opening series 5-3 to the Tampa Bay Rays and ended up with a 2-2 series tie. It would have been nice to start the season with a winning series especially since the Jays have traditionally faired poorly at Tropicana Field.
Past 5 years 17-30
And an even worse Series record…
Past 5 years 2-11-2
The Jays however are getting good at stirring up news and dissent. Never mind the turmoil that Jays’ manager John Gibbons stirred up with his ‘dresses’ joke. But there were a lot of questions around his decision to replace Gavin Floyd, the experienced long reliever, with Arnold Leon in the high leverage 8th inning when the Jays were hanging onto a 3-2 lead with the Rays having a runner on 1st and 3rd. This was Leon’s first major league appearance. I think that if you’re going to pull the pitcher here, you replace him with a shutdown reliever right? Was Gibby thinking that they might get a repeat of 20-year-old Roberto Osuno when his first pitch in the Major Leagues was vs. Alex Rodrigueswith 2 runners on base in 2015 when he struck him out? Check this out. Cool as a cucumber.
Poor Leon is the next player in line to go down to AAA when Estrada joins the lineup. And was that situation the right time for Leon to get some work? I guess however, that 2 runners on base wasn’t quite the situation when Leon started warming up but wouldn’t it have been safer to leave Floyd in? He might have had a better chance of avoiding the 3-run homerun that ensued, but who knows?
I don’t really understand why Osuna or Storen couldn’t come in. Storen played or warmed up the last 3 days, but was he tired? It was only the 4th day of the season! And Osuna I guess is the 9th inning pitcher, but if you don’t get there, then there is no bottom of the 9th!
I think when the Jays make logical decisions, there’s a sense of comfort in their ability, but when they start making strange management decisions, it starts to get very confusing. There are more high tech ways to figure out if a pitcher needs rest than just looking at how many days in a row they threw a ball. The Blue Jays for sure must have access to that.
Other things I didn’t love about Wednesday’s game was the home plate umpire Laz Diaz’ strike zone. It was all over the place! Does umping get better later in the season as well?
And the rationale to take out Saunders and replace him with Carrera? Saunders had been hitting the Rays well, so were they worried he was tired too?
And of course, we all held our collective breath when 3rd baseman Josh Donaldson limped off the field with a strained calf. He tweaked it after his 3-run homer in the 3rd inning.
I expect it will take much more than a strain to keep Donaldson away from the home opener. I hope so since I’ll be there at Rogers Centre and he’ll be sorely missed if he doesn’t play!
Rogers Centre is going to be a packed house. Does anyone else find it strange that Tropicana Field’s seats are so empty during their season and home opener? Is it because they finished 4th in the AL East in 2015 and 17th overall? Or is it because all the snow birds from Toronto have made their way north? There are 42 active players born in Florida so you’d think that Floridians must love baseball. Or was it just because they played during the weekdays. Well, Rogers Centre will absolutely be thumping on Friday. It’s going to be awesome!
Oh Sanchez. After the 6+ inning shut out today, is it really possible for Blue Jays management to relegate Aaron Sanchez to the bullpen? They’ve now stretched him out to 6 innings. He has been quite flawless. How will they justify a move to the bullpen to him and to us and to themselves? Yeah ok, Floyd is more experienced aka older, but he has been plagued by serious injury and has not pitched more innings than Sanchie over the past two years. The upside to Sanchez seems somewhat limitless right at the moment. I say let him start, move him if he falters or tires out.
As I mentioned previously, I got a Blue Jays Flex pack for Christmas. So awesome husband! And I’m glad we didn’t go for the season’s tickets because it really wasn’t that easy to find 10 games that we could fit in to our schedule. What’s kind of weird about it is that you don’t always get the same seats but that makes sense since we’re not buying every game. It did give us a chance to get home opener tickets and hopefully will give us a better chance at getting post-season tickets assuming we get that far and that they don’t change the rules on us! We decided to go with the 200 level over the 100 even though they’re the same price because we figured we’d see more. Will let you know how they are. We did go to a post-season game last year in the 500s behind Bautista and it was still awesome. Hey when you’re drinking beer, all’s good!
Tulo again! Two run homer to left and you can see the left fielder just waves it off as if to say, ‘ah, that’s outta here!’ Kind of cute. And the double play with the bad hop. It’s like a whole new Tulowitzki. I have a feeling that this IS the real Troy Tulowitzki.
I’m not too sure how I feel about the new slide rule though. An automatic double play was called today because Antoan Richardson slid into Darwin Barney’s feet at 2nd base. He CLEARLY wasn’t sliding into 2nd base and WAS targeting the 2nd baseman. I’m all for safety. Imagine it was my son out there! I’m sure the older players are going to feel it is taking away from the game though.
Ok, Floyd, pretty good. I can understand the dilemma between he and Sanchez for the starting rotation. But if Sanchez goes to the bullpen again for the whole season, I don’t know, will his heart be in it? And that’ll be another year without him being able to develop further. It won’t be an easy transition for him from the bullpen to the starting rotation mid-season if needed. My vote still goes to Sanchez, but I’m kind of feeling like Floyd needs a chance given his bad luck with injuries. Can he last the whole season though?
The more I watch Colabello, I think I know why he took so long to get to the majors. He had good numbers but he looks sleepy all the time! He’s got kind of a sleepy face, with his mouth open a bit. And he doesn’t act with much command. He seems kind of limp and probably it gives the impression that he’s not that committed. Sometimes, impressions count, and I think he’s just a bit loosey goosey. Compare him to Tulo who looks good even on the rare occasion when he misses a play. Hard to forget that game during the playoffs last season when Colabello went over and showed the umpire his empty glove wondering why he wasn’t calling the runner out. How embarrassing.