Sure, the Jays almost blew it after a great start, but, there are so many great points to bring up about Brett Cecil‘s start that I’m not sure where to start. I guess the best place to start is to say that he was facing an extremely hot team in Tampa. The team had just come off wins against Mark Buehrle 12-0, and Jake Peavy 10-2. For Brett to come in after those two huge outputs by the Rays, against veterans with excellent stuff, and to do so well against them is a feat that should be applauded on all counts.
While Matt Garza only lasted 5 innings after a rough start to the game that racked up his pitch count, Brett was as efficient as could be. His line on the night was as follows:
6.2 IP/ 6 hits/ 4 ER/ 2 BB/2 HR/ 8 Ks
How did Cecil do so well against such a potent offense? An extremely nasty change up that made many of them look foolish, about 15 different speeds, and location-location-location. All of these things were working for Brett as he pounded the bottom of the zone and occasionally surprised hitters with a heater up high. His change up was the best pitch he had going by far. He threw it in low and tight without fear, in any count, and really kept hitters off balance as a result. Carlos Pena in particular just looked plain silly swinging at the pitches way before they got to the plate.
When the Rays did make contact, it mostly resulted in a fly out (7). Willy Aybar and Gabe Kapler actually had the two big hits against Brett, with Willy’s coming on an “excuse-me” HR that he reached out to get – it was still a good pitch by Brett that would have resulted in a ground out 3/4 of the time. Ben Zobrist was also able to get a double on what I saw as the only mistake pitch Brett made in the game – not bad for someone who didn’t begin the season in the rotation. I say it was a mistake because it was a sinker that just hung up a little. He almost had a really rough inning after that, but thankfully the baffled Pena came up to bat and put an end to the inning. Brett only needed 81 pitches to get through 6 innings of work, indicating his efficiency in the game. He did show some tiredness afterwards, leaving some pitches way up in the zone, but did well overall.
However, the most impressive part of Brett Cecil‘s start was his strut on the mound. He showed confidence and maturity beyond his years. I was very impressed in the difference between this start and what we saw last season – the start he had in Boston as an example, when he self-imploded as soon as the Red Sox got a hit. Not so in this game, as Brett pitched exactly the same way whether runners were on or not – effectively and in dominating form, that is. I don’t think we have to worry about when Brian Tallet will regain his rotation spot after this start because Brett’s earned himself at least 4-5 more starts with this gem.
Offensively, the Jays had to be ecstatic to see Aaron Hill (.167) hit his first HR of the year in his first game after returning from the DL. Vernon Wells (.349) got the run scoring started in the 1st with a double, and Jose Bautista was outstanding with 3 doubles in the game, driving his average up to a more accepted .242 on the year.
Anyone else getting the feeling that both Jason Frasor and Scott Downs are listening to the trade talk and that it’s affecting their performances? Trade them, or don’t trade them, but please do something before they have many losses chalked up to their nerves. Kevin Gregg bailed Frasor, and himself, out in the 8th and 9th with a great outing, once again showing nay sayers that he deserves to be the closer on this squad.
If Brett Cecil is truly in such fine form, and I have to believe he is after this performance against one of the most potent offensive teams in MLB, then the Jays have a very formidable rotation. Brandon Morrow found his stuff during his last outing, and Ricky Romero, Shaun Marcum, and Dana Eveland have all looked great thus far. I like the way it’s shaping up for the Jays, and if one of these falters, Marc Rzepczynski will get a chance to pick him up.
The more games I watch, the more I like this team, but the more I don’t understand hitting Lyle Overbay 5th in the lineup. Alex Gonzalez has earned that spot outright. Fred Lewis looked great at the top of the lineup and is getting more comfortable now that he’s getting regular playing time. I guess the big question is who sits when Edwin Encarnacion returns and Bautista returns to the OF? The regular OF should be Lewis-Wells-Snider, with Lind as the DH, but that leaves Bautista out. Rotating them is the only real solution, but then a bench spot still needs to be cleared, so who heads to AAA? I’m going to write a piece on Mike McCoy next, because the Jays have a real decision to make between him and John McDonald.
Any division win in the AL East is a big deal, so all Jays fans should appreciate this win. It makes a statement as the Jays start to play their biggest rivals, one that I’m certain will not go unnoticed if they can repeat the feat with staff ace Ricky Romero taking the mound against Jeff Niemann on Saturday.