Wait, so the Jays win 7-4 in extra innings? Didn’t we do this one already?
Deja-vu jokes aside, the visiting Blue Jays again triumphed over the Indians 7-4, in a game where neither team’s offense distinguished itself. Here are a few things your humble writer noticed while watching this contest.
This game featured the first start of the season of soon-to-be-suspended Cleveland starter Ubaldo Jimenez, who was locating his pitches well early on, and sinking them in the zone — something we saw a lot of in the first game from Justin Masterson, and seems to be a feature of this Cleveland starting staff. Jimenez took a perfect game into the sixth, until Colby Rasmus forced a walk.
Brandon Morrow had an odd line (as he often does) at the end of the game: he’d allowed one hit and two unearned runs to go with three walks and three strikeouts. He, like Jimenez, was moving the ball around, and doing a good job keeping an admittedly weak Indians lineup off balance until exiting after seven innings. He didn’t get flustered when J.P. Arencibia‘s error ended up prolonging an inning early.
It’s early, but I do like how Rasmus is looking at the plate; the numbers aren’t there, but he’s staying patient, and has hit the ball hard a few times. In the same vein of preemptive judgement, I’d be a little concerned about Eric Thames, who doesn’t seem to have progressed now that the games have started. It doesn’t seem like he has an approach at the plate, and that it’s still a bit of an adventure for him in the outfield.
Brett Lawrie‘s pretty good, you guys. In a game where few players distinguished themselves offensively (a nod to Kelly Johnson as well, who did alright), Lawrie went 3-for-5, with a few well hit balls, and still entirely unable to contain his manic energy, much to the delight of anyone who watches him. He had an aggressive fist bump with Jose Bautista after scoring in the 12th, and Bautista was shaking his hand out after. So great.
The in-game analysis seemed sharper than I remember: Pat Tabler made some good points about Jimenez losing velocity, and showed some love to a young Tampa Bay rotation, saying that rookie Matt Moore may be the best of them very soon. Gregg Zaun was off: He seemed to think the Jays were struggling against Jimenez because they were “window shopping” (looking at pitches), and then used Brett Lawrie‘s RBI single to make hit point- when Lawrie waited until 2-1 to take his cut. Buck Martinez startled me when he talked about Jays bench coach Don Wakamatsu taking notes on Arencibia blocking balls (something he’s done well this year).
The shot of the retro Martinez and Tabler jerseys in the crowd was great. Also on the subject of jerseys, how great is it to have blue jerseys back?
Sergio Santos blew the save, but it was one mistake pitch up that Asdrubal Cabrera took advantage of. The Blue Jays bullpen as a whole has been very good so far this season, having survived two extra inning games. I bet they were glad for the extra day before the first and second game, and that Morrow went a little deeper than Ricky Romero did in the first game. The Indians’ bullpen, so good last year, has had a few hiccups so far, with Chris Perez blowing the save in the opener, and Tony Sipp‘s hiccup last night leading to the Jays’ win. Though there’s not many bullpens that would take as many innings as these two teams have in the first two games without a few hitches here and there. To me, it illustrates the volatility of relief pitchers, not just from year to year, but even game to game- Alex Anthopoulos’ strategy of building them cheaply appears to be the right move.
Additional non-game related note: Watching on Sportsnet West, they cut from the Jays game in the 12th inning with the Jays leading 5-3 (right after Rajai Davis‘ steal), to go the opening of Ducks/Flames. And here, we have the downside of living in a hockey crazed nation, where they’ll go from an extra-inning baseball game to the first period of the last game of a season for a team well out of the NHL playoff race.
After the first couple of games, we have to be encouraged by what we’ve seen from this Blue Jays team. Despite getting behind to the Indians’ starters, they were able to scratch out wins against a bullpen that was quite good last year. That resilience will help while some of the offensive pieces they’re counting on find their way, and the pitching staff settles down.