Tuesday, August 14, 2012

August 14: White Sox 3, Jays 2

White Sox hang on to win

Why would Charlie Sheen throw out the first pitch? I mean, why not Joe Carter? As it turned out the Jays would need more than two and a half runs to win this ball game.

Henderson Alvarez pitched a pretty solid effort as the Chicago White Sox turned away the Jays' threats in each of the last five innings.

Alvarez's first four innings went smoothly as the Jays took a 2-0 lead into the top of the 5th.

In the bottom of the first, Yunel Escobar singled home Mike McCoy who unsuccessfully sacrified Davis who led the game with a single. Why you attempt to bunt in the bottom of the first with none on and your fastest runner on first I wonder? I really don't know that answer to that one. It's too early to trade an out for a iffy shot at moving over your runner, and it was unsuccessful. Remember that the sacrifice does not always work!!! The Jays left 2 on in the 1st.

In the bottom of the third, Mike McCoy scored Rajai Davis who doubled and then took third for his 34th stolen base (3 behind Mike Trout) and his 15th steal of 3rd base, 5 ahead of Coco Crisp.

Here's the amazing thing about the 2.5 million dollar man aka Rajai Davis: Rajai has had only 74 stolen base opportunities, while Mike Trout has had 180. Mike Trout tries to steal in about 22% of his opportunites, while Rajai attempts to steal in in about 55% of opportunties. If Rajai had the same opportunities as Mike Trout, he would have about 80 stolen bases by now! No one in the AL even comes close to this. So, Rajai should just work on getting on base, and he should be the regular left fielder, day in, day out. When he does get on base, he takes extra bases on 68% of hits, third in the AL among regulars. Simply put, this guy is aggressive, and he wreaks more havoc on the bases than anyone else in the AL. Add to that the fact that he went 3-4 tonight and he's really proving himself to be the regular dude in left, questionable defense aside (he needs to hit his cutoff man, and sometimes he loses focus, despite the catch of the year on the Sunday).

Anyway, enough about Rajai. On to the top of the 5th. A series of four singles by Pierzynski, Viciedo, De Aza (to knock in Pierzynski), and ex-Jay DeWayne Wise (to knock in Viciedo) put runners on 1st and 3rd with 2 out. Henderson tried the "patented" move to third - move to 1st play in order to catch one of the runners sleeping, a reasonable move with two very fast runners. He ended up throwing to first and sailed it high to Cooper, who jumped in an attempt to catch the ball, but it went off of David's glove about 10 feet behind him, which allowed the speedy De Aza to score and take the lead at 3-2.

The Jays threatened in each inning. In the bottom of the 5th, the Jays loaded the bases with one out and Edwin up. But Edwin hit a sharp liner to Kevin Youkilis who made a great catch and a great throw to 2nd to double off Rajai. End of rally. Bad luck.

Moises reached in the 6th with two out but Kelly Johnson couldn't do anything. In the 7th with one out, Hechavarria doubled (his first extra base hit) in the 7th and Rajai walked, but Mike McCoy (who is hitting 2nd in the order, ouch!) and Edwin couldn't do anything. And in the 8th, a lead off double by David Cooper (replaced by Gose) couldn't be cashed as Yunel and Moises lined out while Yan Gomes struck out, leaving Gose on third.  And Colby, on to pinch hit for Hechavarria hit a single in the 9th with one out but couldn't be cashed as Reed recorded his 21st save.

Henderson was strong tonight, pitching 7 innings and throwing only 84 pitches (59 for strikes) while striking out only two, walking none, and scattering out 3 other hits besides the 4 in the 5th over the other six innings. This would qualify as one of his very good outings (his 4th in his last 10th starts). Consistency now is the key for Alvarez. He needs to keep his sinking fast ball down and develop an out pitch so that he can record more strikeouts. Without the strikeout, more balls go into play, and these result in more hits. 21 home runs certainly is alot (9th in the AL) while is K/9 at 3.2 is near the bottom of the list.

When Morrow comes up, who is going to be off of the rotation? There are about 9 starts left for each starter in a 5 player rotation. At 6 innings per start, Romero, Morrow and Happ will be fine. Villanueva will be at his innings limit (which should be 130) after 8 starts so he'll make it pretty much to the end. Henderson Alvarez has pitched 143 major league innings and threw 159 innings (63 MLB innings) and should top out at the most 190 innings, which gives him 9 more starts to take him pretty much to the end. That leaves Aaron Laffey, who threw only 85 innings in 2010 and 56 in 2011, has already thrown 125 innings this year. I think he will be the odd man out when Morrow returns.

Injury updates

Colby pinch hit in the 9th innings and looked sore. His groin will need more healing before he can come back and play center - I am guessing about a week. In the meantime, they are looking at Colby to DH.

Brett Lawrie comes off the DL on Sunday, August 19 (Baltimore) and Floridians can celebrate as he gets a couple of rehab starts down in Dunedin. Just put up alot of warning tape near any hazards so he doesn't dive into a ditch. I think he'll be back for the road trip and look forward to seeing him in Detroit on Tuesday night next week.

Jose Bautista is swinging off a tee. He will need rehab starts too, and soon, before the minor leagues shut down at the end of the month. My bet is that he will be back at the end of August.

Brandon Morrow pitched a fine start tonight in AA New Hampshire (striking out 6 in 4.1 innings with 65 pitches) and will make one more start and will probably make his return in Baltimore during the August 24-26 series.

Adam Lind should be ready to play but with Cooper doing well at first, he's being kept from hitting for now.

JP Arencibia should be back in mid-September. His cast comes off later today and they will evaluate from there.

Transactions and Comments

The Jays extended Jeff Mathis by two years, meaning that he will likely be the regular backup catcher in 2013 and 2014. And they also signed veteran catcher Jeff Torrealba to a minor league contract, which means that with JP Arencibia, Jeff Mathis, and Travis D'Arnaud all expected to be major league quality next year, who is going to catch. There's speculation that JPA will move to DH but that would just be a waste of his catching talent. So, I think an off-season trade is in the offing and it won't involve Jeff Mathis. Quite simply, despite JPA's offensive capability to hit home runs, he has far better value as a catcher than a DH. Edwin is the capable DH/1B, and JPA's numbers and lack of experience does not warrant him value as a DH. One will be traded. The Jays would be far better off in an new and improved Adam Lind at 1st or even David Cooper and leave Edwin at DH.

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