Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Series recap: Jays wake up in Baltimore

September 24-26, 2012

After losing six in a row in the Bronx and at the Trop, the remaining Jays fans who have now turned their eyes elsewhere (not hockey) were looking for a turnaround in Baltimore. And it looks like they got one - a small one, mind you, as they went 2-2 in the four game set.
In all, the Jays come back off the road going 2-8, quite disappointing, but frankly, in a best case scenario, with the teams that they were playing and the state of the roster, 4-6 might have been the best to hope for.

On the pitching front, Laffey's effort was by far the highlight of the series. Alvarez, Romero, and Villanueva were not good. The bullpen however was excellent with the exception of Wednesday night's game when Farrell trotted out Carreno, Beck, and Carpenter down by 4, 6, and 8 runs. Janssen also looked rusty in his efforts but managed to get out relatively unscathed.

On the hitting front, Arencibia, Lind, Edwin, and Hechavarria were highlights, while Colby and Lawrie were disappointments.

  • JP went 7 for 9 with two walks in the series, after going 2 for 37 with two walks since his injuries. Perhaps he's turned the corner, a great sign. Remember that in the 18 games before his injury, he hit .319 / .349 / .700 (with six home runs) and was really coming together. In Baltimore, he hit a  home run and a double.
  • Adam Lind went 6 for 9 in the series (all singles). Since September 11, Adam's hitting 17-51 (.333) with 4 doubles, 2 triples, and a home run for an OPS of .906.  If Lind can end the season on this positive note, it will be difficult to dismiss him as the opening day 1B or DH especially against RHP and the value of his contract.  
  • Edwin went 5-16 with two home runs. Edwin, in his last 11 games is batting 12-37 with 4 home runs and 8 walks (OPS 1.106).  
  • Hechavarria went 3 for 8 and is running a 9 game hitting streak, batting 10 for 29 with 2 doubles and a home run in that stretch (OPS .889). Since August 23rd, Adieny is hitting (.303 / .329 / .434) over 81 plate appearances and is making the argument to be in the starting lineup next year.
On the awful side, Colby Rasmus went 1 for 12 (two walks) while Brett Lawrie went 2 for 16 (3 walks). Colby's batting .111 in his last 11 games played; Lawrie is batting .170. When your 1-2 in the order has a .255 and .200 OBP respectively, it's hard for Edwin to drive in runs. Bautista had the same problem at the start of the season when Escobar and Johnson headed up the lineup.

Monday afternoon: Jays 1 at Orioles 4


The Jays continued their offensive drought Monday afternoon, while Henderson Alvarez gave up four runs over 5 2/3rds inning in a step back after three good outings.

Henderson's enemy again was the home run. In the bottom of the fourth, a lead off walk to Chris Davis was followed up by an Adam Jones home run. Alvarez gave up an another home run to Flaherty to open the bottom of the fifth, and Alvarez really started to come undone in the bottom of the sixth, as the Orioles loaded the bases (Jones single, Wieters double, Thome intentional walk) with none out. Mark Reynolds then hit into a double play, scoring Adam Jones. Cecil then came on to finish the frame, and Frasor and Beck finished off the game without any damage being done.

Henderson's line was 5.2 innings pitched. Over 86 pitches, he walked 3, struck out 6, and gave up 2 home runs. The Jays defence was fine that afternoon with no glaring problems or issues.
On the offensive side, the Jays threatened (as usual) a few times in the game before breaking through in the eighth inning with two outs. Edwin singled, Lind singled, and Rajai Davis doubled home Edwin. Darren O'Day came on to strike out Kelly Johnson (good guess) to end the threat. Jim Johnson breezed through the last frame to record his 48th (!) save.
The rookie Steve Johnson let in 3 hits over five innings of work and looked great, now going 21 scoreless innings over a couple of starts and relief appearances. And besides Tommy Hunter, the rest of the Orioles pitching staff pitched with their usual efficiency.
For the Jays hitting, Colby reached twice on walks, and Adam Lind hit twice. Jeff Mathis went 0-2 as did Yunel. Anthony Gose went 0-4.

Monday night: Jays 9 at Orioles 4.

An excellent offensive effort by the Jays (Arencibia's 5 RBIs), and a key defensive play by Gose resulted in a Jays win.

The night game featured the struggling Ricky Romero vs Wei-Yin Chen. In this match, the Jays needed some excellent defensive play to win this game. Ricky was truly lucky to end up with the win.

Edwin started off the scoring in the top of the first with a two run home run following a Brett Lawrie walk. Ricky's bottom of the first looked a little shaky with a opening walk.

Chen continued to be shaky in the 2nd. Sierra singled and Visquel doubled to open the inning. JP Arencibia hit a long fly ball to right to advance Visquel and score Sierra. Gose singled to left to score Visquel and it was 4-0 going into the bottom of the 2nd.

But in the bottom of the 2nd, 8 hitters for Baltimore came to the plate as Romero's pitching woes continued. Reynolds singled, then Machado hit a seeing eye single between 3rd and short. Chavez advanced the runners to 2nd and 3rd with two out, but Andino hit a weak single again between short and 3rd to score two runs. Romero then errored allowing Teagarden to reach and McLouth was beaned before Romero got out of the inning. 4-2 after 2.

Romero managed to sail through the 3rd and 4th inning. Romero ran into some trouble in the bottom of the 5th as McLouth paid back Romero for hitting him by hitting a home run. Jones then hit a double and Romero walked two batters, loading the bases before Chavez hit a weak ground ball down the first base side that Romero handled and tagged him out to preserve the lead. Sierra immediately homered in the top of the 5th to give Romero a 5-3 lead going into the 5th, and with Romero having thrown 85 pitches and looking wild, it was really surprising to see him come out and pitch the sixth. I really thought that Farrell would want his bullpen to preserve the win.

In the bottom of the 5th, Romero continued his woes, giving up a double to Andino, a single and a walk, ending Romero's day. Sportsnet had some nice shots of Romero looking quite upset as Brad Lincoln came on to with the bases loaded and none out. JJ Hardy then singled to score a run. Lincoln then settled down and managed to strike out Adam Jones, then a shallowish fly ball by Davis was caught by Jones. Teagarden, the lumbering catcher tagged, and Gose threw a perfect one bounce strike to Arencibia to tag out the Oriole, just barely in time. 5-4 Jays after 6, and Romero was in line for the win.

In the 7th, with Jake Arreita on the mound, the Jays struck again. Encarnacion walked, Escobar singled, and Lind (who pinch hit for Yan Gomes against the righty) singled to load the bases. Sierra then hit into a fielders choice as Reynolds threw out Encarnacion for the force at home, and Visquel popped to short. Then, JP Arencibia, who was hitting 4-39 since his return, decided to hit a just-out-of-the park GRAND SLAM to take the a 9-4 lead.

Lincoln pitched the 7th, Loup the 8th and Janssen came on to pitch the ninth. He looked rusty, giving up 3 singles to load the bases with none out, but Reynolds managed to hit into a double play (scoring one) and Machado struck out to end the ball game.

Tuesday: Jays 4, Orioles 0

Aaron Laffey and the bullpen combine for a shutout, Jays get 13 hits for 2nd night in a row in a well-rounded effort.

Aaron Laffey threw something like 57 innings last year in the Mariners and Yankee organization before being converted into a starter by the Jays this year. So, far this year, Laffey threw 63.2 innings for Las Vegas and 90 innings for the Jays. I think if the Jays didn't have to use Laffey to start, they wouldn't, but with Happ on the bench and playing 10 games in 8 days left little choice for the Jays.

Laffey pitched 5 2/3rds inning, scattering 5 hits, pitching to contact (no walks, no strikeouts). Farrell decided to preserve his arm and took Laffey out of the game with Jones single while the Jays were up 2-0. Farrell then played matchups, putting out Delabar, Cecil (to get one out), and Lyon. Oliver and Janseen then finished the game, and once again Janssen looked rusty, as Escobar bobbled a ball with 1 out, then a popup and two walks later, the bases were loaded with 2 out with the tying run at the plate in Flaherty, who hit a fly ball to end the game.

Offensively, it was another 13 hit effort as every Jay got at least one hit. Gomes recorded an RBI in the first, with a single to score Lawrie in the 1st. In the fourth, Hechavarria hit a long double with two out to knock in Davis from first. The Jays scored two more in the 7th as Rasmus knocked in Arencibia who singled and advanced to second as Gose reached on a an error. Encarnacion then knocked in Gose but Davis threw out Rasmus as he tried to go 1st to 3rd. The throw by Davis was brilliant and just got Rasmus out at 3rd, so I wouldn't blame Rasmus from trying to advance.

Escobar, Gomes, Rajai, and JP Arencibia got two hits each. Arencibia was the only player who walked.

Wednesday: Jays 2 and Baltimore 12

Carlos Villanueva ran out of gas in the 5th inning as the Jays offense runs typically dry. The bullpen's minor leaguers allowed 2 runs each inning to put the game out of reach.

As I wrote in my previous blog entry, Villanueva has been audtioning to be a starter now since he entered the rotation on June 29th. The fear for Villanueva has always been his arm. He injured it last year, and he's never pitched as many innings as he has this year. I think that Villanueva has starter stuff, but that his arm will wear out at some point next year. For that reason, I think Villaneuva would be a perfect fit for the Jays as both Drabek and Hutchinson will be ready mid and late season to replace Carlos.

In the first inning, Edwin and and McLouth exchanged home runs. In the fifth, the Jays scored thir only other run of the game as Gose knocked in Arencibia who doubled on the previous at bat.

But in the bottom of the 5th, Villaneuva's arm had had enough. Villanueva's fastball had topped out at 90mph, and he was relying alot on his slider, change up and curve to get runners out, and he was successful at doing so. Villanueva up until the point was pretty good, throwing 7 strikeouts and walking 1. Jim Thome hit the 1st pitch (a change up) out of the park to tie the game. With two outs, Machado hit a home run (on another change up) to go down 3-2. McLouth and Hardy then singled before Chris Davis hit his 27th home run for his 27th home run (on a slider left up). That ended it for Villaneuva.

Down 6-2, Farrell elected to go to the AAA callups in the bullpen, going with Carreno in the 6th, who walked Wieters and gave up a 2 run home run to Mark Reynolds. In the 7th, Farrell went with Beck. Beck gave up a single to Hardy before Chris Davis hit a 2-run homer. In the 8th, Farrell went with David Carpenter. Lawrie had a terrible throw to allow Reynolds to reach, and then Machado homered. 12-2 after 8.

Offensively, Adam Lind went 3 - 4 (singles), while Arencibia (2B), Encarnacion (HR), Gose, and Hechavarria rounded out the hitting.

So, for Carlos, who may have one outing remaining, he is running on fumes. One might ask why Farrell would run out the Vegas trio to throw innings when down only 4 runs, but I am thinking that he needed to give his bullpen a rest.

Coming up: Jays vs Yankees

The Jays come home now to finish off their disappointing season, getting to hopefully play spoiler against the Yankees, who will be pulling out all the stops to win the division against the Orioles (who will be in Boston). The last series will be against the even more disappointing Minnesota Twins to close out the season.


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