Youth. It’s filled with excitement, energy, and if you watched the Jays tonight, mad skills. With a roster that included only one player over 30 year old (Kelly Johnson, who happens to be exactly 30), the young Jays roster took the Red Sox to task and drove in enough runs to support the great start provided by Aaron Laffey (27).
The Jays got some very encouraging performances from their young guns in today’s game. Travis Snider looked great defensively, making an impressive play on one catch in particular, and had some great ABs, going 1-3 overall (a double). Yan Gomes also made nice smooth looking plays, at 3B, and went 1 for 4. But all eyes seemed to be fixed on Anthony Gose, who showed off his game-changing speed all game long and managed to draw 2 walks. Sure, both Gomes and Gose struck out twice in this one, but they both had great ABs all game long. Besides, there are not many rookies who don’t strike out a significant amount, are there?
The Jays lineup tonight kicked off with Anthony Gose (21), followed by Colby Rasmus (25), Edwin Encarnacion (28), Adam Lind (29), J.P. Arencibia (26), Kelly Johnson (30), Yunel Escobar (29), Travis Snider (24), and Yan Gomes (25). If Brett Lawrie (22) had been in the lineup, the roster would have been even younger. Sure, Jose Bautista makes it a little older, being 31 years old, but when we consider the possibility of Adeiny Hechavarria (23) and Jake Marisnick (21) joining the Jays by 2013, this roster is beginning to look both young and potent.
Then we head to the rotation to check our their ages. Aaron Laffey, last night’s star, is 27, and the rest lie on either side of his age with Drew Hutchison (21), Henderson Alvarez (22), Ricky Romero (28), Brandon Morrow (27), Carlos Villanueva (28), Brett Cecil (26), Kyle Drabek (24), and finally the new comer, J.A. Happ (29). It’s a pretty rare feat to be able to state that 9 of the 10 Jays starting pitching options on the roster are under 30 years old. Only Dustin McGowan hits the 30 mark. Add in the glut of pickers marching up the ranks, and you’ve got similar scenario brewing in the rotation as you do in the lineup.
Back to the game, however, the pitching performance of Laffey was outstanding to watch and surely bought him another start or two, meaning that Happ may be forced to sit in the bullpen a little longer than some would have anticipated. He was painting corners, kept hitters off balance, and got steady defensive plays behind him all game long. It’s great to see Laffey and Villanueva in particular step up and perform well while the Jays deal with their injuries.
Laffey was supported very well by Darren Oliver and Casey Janssen who closed the game out for the Jays. It took Janssen a little longer than anticipated, 27 pitches and 1 ER later to be exact, but he got it done and looks very good in the 9th inning role.
Aside from Laffey’s start, Colby Rasmus deserves some kudos for waking up out of a slumber. Not only did he fake touching the plate like a dream to score a run, but he ignited the offence with a double and a triple, something the lineup needed him to do. Adam Lind was the only other Jays hitter to get 2 hits, and he’s looking GREAT at the plate since he was called up from AAA. He’s taking first pitches, isn’t trying to do too much with pitches away, and may finally be recognizing breaking pitches a little better. If he continues his hot hitting ways and the Jays can get Lawrie and Jose Bautista back healthy, this lineup could really take off in a big way.
The youth served the Jays well last night, and I can’t wait to see if they can do it again with Carlos Villanueva taking the mound tonight!