Tagged: Smoak

Oh. My. Josh.

Despite a really strong 8-inning outing by Marcus Stroman Thursday night, the Jays found themselves down 2-0 after the 4th inning, when in the 5th the reigning MVP Josh Donaldson launched a 424 ft 3-run homerun to the centre field 2nd level.

With the Jays leading 3-2, Tulowitzki drove a homer down the left field line for a nice insurance run. It was more like a REassurance run, letting everyone know that the Tulo that we know and love is still in there somewhere just making his way out.

Did you notice…?

Do you know what I’ve noticed that’s really cute? Have you ever noticed that whenever Smoak closes out a game at 1st base (and the Jays have won), Donaldson and Smoak will meet each other on the mound and hug? Maybe they just get there first for the team high 5s. Or maybe they’re buddies? I never see them hugging anyone else.

Anyway, Osuna the bett-a man. He’s a Mexican rock.

Osuna gets his 4th save.

 

 

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Now that’s more like it

Thank you Ivan Nova. With the Yankees relief pitcher on the mound, the Blue Jays scored 4 runs in the 8th inning Wednesday night. The Jays had only scored 4 runs after the 5th inning in all the 8 previous games of this season. The final score of 7-2 was a sight for sore eyes.

Here are the highlights. Try to ignore the guy who keeps calling Goins ‘Goings’.

The die hard experts joke about us bandwagon fans. Silly bandwagoners freaking out over a few games. Well, so what? We bandwagon fans are spending $$$ on hats and jerseys. We bought one Tuesday night and it cost $185 + $30 for the 40th anniversary crest + HST!! We’re in it to win it. We’re not in this to grind out losses season after season. We want to cheer the team on as they win win win! What’s wrong with that? I’m sorry if I don’t enjoy watching them lose.

As a newbie fan of course I don’t understand sabermetrics but there are some stats that appear to be easy to understand, maybe hard to interpret, but isn’t that part of what we love about baseball? The stats and what picture they can paint. For example…

Smoak vs Colabello. I have this impression that Smoak is a bigger hitter and better defender than Colabello even though it seems like the Jays use Colabello more when they need hitting and Smoak for defense. So I tried to see if the stats support this.

Hitting
2015          Games  Hits  HR  RBI  SO  AVG     BB%    K%        OBP     SLG   OPS
Smoak      132        67      18    59    86   0.226   8.8%   26.2%  0.299  .470  .768
Colabello 101        107    15     54   96    0.321   6.1%    26.7%  0.367  .520  .886

Defense
2015            G       Inn   Putouts  Assists  Errors
Smoak       110    687     666         44            4
Colabello   34     240     248         11             1

Hmm, that’s a lot of numbers but looks to me like Colabello edges out in both categories. Am I misunderstanding something? Or is it that Colabello’s kind of casual, flaccid way just doesn’t look as imposing as Justin Smoak’s 6’4 240lb frame.

One other question I had was does Kevin Pillar swing at a lot of pitches outside the zone? He seems to love chasing the down and away outside the zone. This seems to be an easy one to answer.

Kevin Pillar Plate Discipline compared to Jose Bautista.
The O-Swing% is the percentage of pitches outside the zone that the batter swings at.
O-Swing%   40.9%   vs. 22.8%
Yep, compared to Bautista, Pillar swings at a LOT of pitches outside the zone. How do you get a lead off hitter to work on that?

 

 

Is a 5-run lead enough? Apparently not.

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.

Grand Slams

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 Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

First, the good.

I love, love, love seeing Russell Martin throw out a base stealer. It’s such a perfect way to end an inning. He had a 44% Caught Stealing % for 2015!

And how about Justin Smoak stealing second (while getting beaned in the helmet)? I didn’t know he could steal bases! He hasn’t stolen a base since 2012 and this was only his 3rd time in his career.

And Michael Saunders has been really solid so far. I loved seeing him push hard to run to first which they called safe on the field, but the hit was overturned on review.

I didn’t have the impression that Sanchez was at his best. He certainly made some beautiful pitches and he didn’t seem to be physically struggling throwing the ball but didn’t look too comfortable – maybe it was all mental. His mom and step dad were in the audience. Certainly his stepdad looked crazy nervous. If my son were a pro athlete I’d be super nervous too!

Then, the bad.

It was surprising to see Pillar miss one. Could he be a bit stunned from yesterday’s smash in the head? We’ve gotten so used to him catching impossible plays that’s it’s unnerving to see him miss one.

Shocking that Tulo missed one too but when I saw the replay, he actually had it, but the ball had busted through that ratty old glove. The same one where the ball got stuck in the webbing the other night. That glove cost us 2 plays, but how many plays has it saved?

Another surprise was Brett Cecil who hit Kevin Kiermaier with a pitch, Kiermaier representing the tying run, and who seems to be an aggressive baserunner. Cecil looks like he’s put on a few pounds. He also gave up a HR to Forsythe and broke his 38 game runless streak.

The Jays seemed to have many chances to run away the runs but somehow struggled to cash in with the 9 hits, the team RISP 2-for-12 and LOB of 11, UNTIL the top of the 9th.

The UGLY!…

OMG I got a headache. I don’t even know what to say, just like Gibby who’s mad as hell. Of course, I am referring to the last play of the game. Goins and Donaldson single and Jose walks. Edwin Encarnacion has bases loaded and the baserunners are ready. Edwin hits a ground ball to Evan Longoria who throws to Forsythe at 2nd getting out Jose Bautista who then made a legal slide BUT caressed Forsythe’s ankle with his hand which may or may not have resulted in the overthrow to first, thus disrupting the double play. The on field call was that Edwin was safe and that the 2 runs that came in gave the Jays a 4-3 lead. On review, they overturned the call…

The MLB introduced the new rule in its announcement:

Under new Rule 6.01(j), which has been added to the existing Rule 6.01 on “Interference, Obstruction, and Catcher Collisions,” slides on potential double plays will require runners to make a bona fide attempt to reach and remain on the base. Runners may still initiate contact with the fielder as a consequence of an otherwise permissible slide. A runner will be specifically prohibited from changing his pathway to the base or utilizing a “roll block” for the purpose of initiating contact with the fielder. Potential violations of Rule 6.01(j) will be reviewable using instant replay. Also reviewable will be “neighborhood play” calls, which previously were exempted from replay review.

Here is the text of the new rule (the ‘j’ is the new amendment):

RULE 6.01(j) — SLIDING TO BASES ON DOUBLE PLAY ATTEMPTS

If a runner does not engage in a bona fide slide, and initiates (or attempts to make) contact with the fielder for the purpose of breaking up a double play, he should be called for interference under this Rule 6.01. A “bona fide slide” for purposes of Rule 6.01 occurs when the runner:

(1) begins his slide (i.e., makes contact with the ground) before reaching the base;

(2) is able and attempts to reach the base with his hand or foot;

(3) is able and attempts to remain on the base (except home plate) after completion of the slide; and

(4) slides within reach of the base without changing his pathway for the purpose of initiating contact with a fielder.

To me, not being a player from the ‘old days’, don’t disagree with the league and the players association trying to prevent the bad injuries that have happened. But I think the call by New York Tuesday night, did not represent the intent of the new rule. And even if we followed the letter of the law, Jose fulfilled ALL 4 criteria and the announcement clearly states that ‘Runners may still initiate contact with the fielder as a consequence of an otherwise permissible slide.’ What a bad way to ruin an amazing comeback play, an ugly way to end a game. Now that does not represent the spirit of the game. First of all, Cash (the Tampa Bay manager) shouldn’t have asked for a review in the spirit of the game seeing as his player was not at risk of getting hurt. Second, should the reviewers not be looking for good evidence to overturn? If you watched Sportsnet, Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler thought there was no way it would get overturned. However, if you watched the Tampa Bay network, they thought for sure he should get called out. So either, they are more informed than Buck and Taby, or, your team bias determines how you see it. Anyone else feel that there’s a bias against the Canadian team sometimes?