Make no mistake, the Reds are a force to be reckoned with, and of all of the National League teams the Jays could be facing right now, they’re along with a half dozen teams as the toughest opponents. So when Jo-Jo Reyes comes in and pitches as well as he did yesterday, I have no choice but to tip my hat to him and get a little excited about the chances that he may actually become a viable #4-5 pitcher for a while yet.
Reyes added a nice single up-the-middle in the 6th inning off Mike Leake who had only allowed 1 hit to that point. The action on his pitches dove so much towards the ground that the Jays could only do their best to try to get it through the infield on the ground. To that point, through the 5th inning, Leake had only allowed 1 fly-out and had either struck out or gotten Jays hitters to ground out for the other 15 outs.
But, the 6th inning is also when Leake seemed to begin to elevate the ball a little more. I don’t know if he got tired or lost his concentration, but he allowed a pop up from Aaron Hill, allowed a single from Reyes, but still shut the door to go to the 7th with CIN up 1-0 on a play I’ll get to later.
The 7th inning had the Jays begin to see the ball better. First, though, Corey Patterson took one for the team by getting hit by a pitch, although I would argue that he just didn’t want to move the leg he had displaced in an attempt to bunt. Either way, he got on, Jose Bautista came up to the plate, and Patterson – for the first time in a long time with JBau at the plate – had the green light to steal. Why? Because the Jays know who’s hitting behind him now, and it’s not Juan Rivera. So, Patterson stole 2B, JBau hit a double to drive him in, and Adam Lind came up to the plate, lumber in hand.
Explain this to me. The game, at that point, is tied 1-1, both pitchers have done well, but Leake is definitely seeing his momentum shifting, and the Reds know that Juan Rivera is on deck. Instead of walking Lind to get to him, they pitch to what currently is one of the hottest hitters in all of Baseball? Dusty Baker needs a spanking for that one, because I would say that 3/4 of MLB Managers would have ordered an intentional walk and would have taken their chances with Rivera. In my eyes, he lost the Reds the game just due to this AB. Lind went on to crush the ball over the deepest part of CF, and the rest is history as they say.
I do want to go backwards a little to the Corey Patterson-Jose Bautista mishap in CF, where they let a ball drop due to miscommunication in CF that wound up allowing the first run in for the Reds, a make shift HR. Patterson should NEVER be in CF. NEVER! He has 0 confidence there, does not command the position, and someone – like Jose freakin Bautista – could have gotten hurt on the play. The CF always makes the call, keeps the call if he knows he can make the catch, and that’s where it ends. If Rajai Davis was playing CF, there wouldn’t have been an issue. But wait, it gets worse…
Then I hear the announcers talking about how Patterson was in CF because they wanted Juan Rivera’s bat in the lineup…..Excuse me? Rivera’s bat? Give me a break. I would rather save 1-2 or 3 runs by having Davis in CF and get his speed in the lineup – particularly when playing a National League team – than to have Rivera’s “supposed bat” in the lineup. Give me a break. NEVER put Patterson in CF again Jays, it could wind up taking out your best player in a collision or losing you some games.
Having said that, both players are veterans and should have known better. The ball was Patterson’s to get, no doubt about it. JBau should have backed off and backed him up. Patterson should have yelled louder and more insistently, and that run should not have scored. The Jays got lucky and pulled off the win despite the error, but they won’t always be this lucky.
All of this proves one very important thing to Jo-Jo, however, his curse is truly over. I’m sure he had thoughts of “not again” as the ball dropped in CF, but he still managed to earn the win. He threw great stuff all night long, was able to keep hitters off balance mostly due to a nicely working new cutter, and there seemed to be no way the Reds could drive much from him. More importantly, he threw strikes (64 of 92 pitches) and did not allow a walk. He allowed only 6 hits and 2 ER (although 1 of these should be unearned) in 6.1 innings, and managed 5 Ks, lowering his ERA to 4.18 on the year.
This was Jo-Jo’s night, who along with Lind got the Jays back to .500. The Jays just keep sticking around, but are still 7.5 games back of the Red Sox, and 5 games back of the Wild Card, so there’s a ton of catching up to do. If Zach Stewart and Jo-Jo Reyes are for real, I can’t see why the Jays can’t go on a small run here. With Adam Lind and Jose Bautista being as strong as they are in the 3-4 spots of the lineup, the Jays can definitely drive in a ton of runs. If Brett Lawrie can add to that when he arrives, you never do know what can happen…
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