Sunday, September 23, 2012

Series wrap: The nightmare continues in Tampa

Where's the magic button that fast forwards to the end of the season?

Don't you wish, as a Jays fans, that you could just simulate the game instead of enduring the torture of watching these games?

Toronto has always had trouble in Tampa, having not won a series there in something like 6 or 7 years. That trend has continued, but these games were so lopsided. And Tampa is in the chase for a wild card spot 5.5 games behind Oakland, the team has to pull out all stops to catch the Athletics. Turns out that they did.

Friday, September 21: Jays 1 at Tampa 12

Carlos Villanueva started the night against James Shields, who has been fabulous against the Jays last year and this year. Carlos, on the other hand, was out to continue to audition for a coveted starting role on some team. Alot of Jays fans are stating that Carlos should be signed to a deal and to show him the money, and my position has been the same: the guy is not proven as a starter. Yes, he can start games, but can he last an entire season? No, he probably cannot. After the game, the Jays management stated that Carlos had arm soreness. The fact of the matter, fans, is that pitching is a violent and unnatural thing to do. Most of us can't throw anything over 40mph, and the fact that these pitchers get pitches up over 90mph is incredible. But it's extremely hard on the arm. Typically, managers will allow a 30% of overage for innings pitched from year to year. Carlos had arm soreness last year when he was given the starter's role, and it's the same this year. He doesn't have the stamina to go a full season in a rotation, and therefore, he will not command a starting position salary. Carlos has pitched about 12% more innings this year over last (so far). Next year, he will probably top out at 160 innings. A big league #1 starter will pitch over 240 innings, while a decent healthy starter will top out at about 200. That leaves Carlos one month short of making it through a season, and that is if everything goes right.

Tampa opened scoring with a Zobrist solo shot in the bottom of the 1st. Two more runs came into score on a Carlos Pena triple. Pena should have been dead to rights at 3rd but Lawrie couldn't pick a bad Hechavarria throw out of the dirt. Molina followed up with a two run home run to make it 5-0. Villanueva then opened the bottom of the third with two singles and a walk before a Luke Scott double (off the glove of Rasmus, a very EASILY handled fly ball) scored two more runs. Carlos then got Pena to pop out before Farrell pulled the plug on Villanueva. Chad Beck came in and stopped the damage, but it was already 7-0 at the end of 3.

Really, is there more to talk about? Beck was okay, letting in 1 run over 2 2/3rds inning of solid mid-relief work, but allowed 3 hits and two walks. With Tampa up 8-0, Farrell marched the very shaky David Carpenter onto the mound, the the Rays managed to score four more runs in the 6th to make it a 12-0 game. Loup and Janssen came on to finish the game.

Ug. Offensively for the Jays, a Yan Gomes double scored a Rasmus single, and that was it for the offense in the top of the 8th. Gose, Arencibia, and Lind were kept off the hit sheet, with Edwin taking the only walk.

Saturday, September 22: Jays 5 at Tampa 11.

Saturday's matchup was a resurgent Brandon Morrow vs a very good Matt Moore. Unfortunately for Brandon he had a frustrating start, not being able to command his slider and not getting calls on some very close pitches with his fastball.

It looked promising for the Jays, as they scored two runs against Matt Moore, as Lawrie opened the game with a walk, Rajai doubled and Edwin singled. Adam Lind hit a sac fly and it was 2-0 after the top of 1. But Brandon was worse, giving up a single and three walks. It was going to be a long night.

Brandon Morrow left a breaking ball over the middle of the plate in the bottom of the second to the desparate Tampa Rays Evan Longoria, who hit a three run homer.

The Jays thretened in the top of the 3rd with 1st and 2nd and two out, but Maddon pulled the plug was pulled early on Matt Moore and went to their very deep bullpen.

Brandon Morrow gave up a solo home run to Desmond Jennings in the bottom of the fourth and with the Jays down 4-2, that was the end of Morrow's day.

The Jays got to Jake McGee in the top of the 5th, as Adam Lind tripled home a single by Gose and Lawrie, and it was 5-4 at the top of the 5th.

But Brad Lincoln sunk it for the Jays, letting in 6 runs over two outs as Keppinger doubled, Francisco doubled,  Roberts singled (scoring Francisco), and Molina homered on an inside fastball. Then Jennings singled and  BJ Upton homered on pretty much the identical pitch to Molina. And it was 11-4.

In the top of the 8th, Hechavarria managed to get a one run back for the Jays knocking home Moises Sierra who had doubled.

And that's it: Morrow had a terrible start, and Brad Lincoln was terrible for the 2nd game in a row. The offense started off well enough, but Tampa was determined to win.

Sunday, September 23rd: Jays 0, Tampa 1

The hope disappeared for the Jays sometime in mid-August, but for Tampa, now only 3.5 behind Oakland for the last wild card spot with Boston, Chicago, and Baltimore left to play, every game matters. Today's matinee featured Jeremy Hellickson against a hopefully not-so-much scouted rookie Chad Jenkins.

Jenkins pitched very well, going five innings. His only blemish was a BJ Upton soloe home run given up in the first, and a couple of hits went very far and were caught, including a very nice Colby Rasmus catch to save a double. He went five innings, threw 60 pitches, and struck out four. Delabar and Oliver pitched fairly flawless sixth and seventh innings.

But Hellickson and the Rays were better, and the Jays managed to spray six through over the game, threatening in the 2nd from a Yunel and Johnson single with two out, but Sierra grounded out. In the 5th, another threat from a Yunel single and Gose single, leaving runners at 2nd and 3rd with two out, but Lawrie struck out. And in the sixth, the Jays managed to load the bases through a single and two walks with two out, but Maddon elected to go to the bullpen to McGee who struck out Kelly Johnson. And in the seventh, Gose doubled on a short fly ball into no-man's territory and was sacrificed by Brett Lawrie, but Maddon went to Howell. Rasmus got jammed, and Howell made an amazing play to throw out Rasmus for third out.

The Rays attempted to add some insurance in the 8th against Brandon Lyon, and a broken bat single by Jennings who stole 2nd. Zobrist was intentionally walked with one out, and Longoria hit a long fly ball to the wall that Sierra just missed, scoring two more runs and pretty much ending any hope for a comeback with the way that the Jays have been playing.

Rodney closed off the game stranding Escobar on first.

0-6. That's the story of these Jays for the road trip thus far, with four more to play in Baltimore. The Jays can't string together hits into runs, and if they do, it's when they are far behind in the game. They've come on the losing end of three close one-run games now, unable to solve the Yankees nor the Rays. There were terrible starts by Brandon Laffey, Morrow and Villaneuva, and when the team didn't pitch well, their hitting was worse.

Highlights for the Jays offense included an Escobar 3-3 day (3 singles and a walk) and a Gose 2 for 3 day. Lawries, Rasmus, Lind, Arencibia and Sierra did not hit. Arencibia has gone 2-37 since his return.

Meaningless games for the Jays, but with games against Baltimore and the Yankees, the Jays will play an instrumental role in the playoffs. Dropping three to Tampa allowed the Rays an outside chance of making the playoffs, being either 2.5 or 3.5 games back of Oakland.

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