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!
Is it weird that rather than feeling all fired up, I breathed a sigh of relief when the Toronto Blue Jays won out over the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3. I had been anticipating this game and was relieved to see that the Jays team wasn’t suddenly a disaster and still had the chops that we have been pinning our dreams of another pennant on. They did everything we could have asked for in an opening day game.
Our newly self-minted ace Marcus Stroman pitched 8+ innings! And then turned things over to our awesome 21-year-old closer Roberto Osuna who got the save. This 1-2 punch beat out Chris Archer, one of the top pitchers currently in MLB. Maybe Marcus will give him mighty competition in the rankings.
We saw a Jays homerun. That was Troy Tulowitzki who has had a great spring, who shot the first homerun of the season over the left field wall and drove in Encarnacion giving us the 5-1 lead that we needed. We also saw some trademark Tulo spinning throws to first to get the batter out.
We saw our biggest hitters play smart when they took a patient approach to the down and away ball and sent them all to right field leading to Encarnacion bringing in Donaldson and Bautista on his single in the first inning. That was beautifully encouraging.
And we saw Colabello move his feet and actually get them in the air to save a base hit to right field. Later, he fielded another ball but missed the tag on Kiermaier but did tag the base ahead of the runner. Colabello often defends his defensive abilities. The only thing that I thought was a bit odd, was that he started arguing with the ump before he ensured the play is complete when no one was touching the base. He was right though and we won the first review.
All in all, a great game, and we can all breath a collective sigh of relief that the team is indeed intact. Tulo looks great, Stroman looks great. If they can stay healthy, well, 161 games to go!