Villanueva Sharp, Happ and Lyon Successfully Debut With Jays
By Mat Germain
Carlos Villanueva threw a very effective game yesterday, as he changed speeds constantly on the Red Sox and only made one big mistake to Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the 2nd inning. Overall, he threw 101 pitches, 65 of them for strikes, and earned his 5th win (with no losses) of the season. To say that he, and Aaron Laffey, have stepped up in the wake of all of the injuries the Jays have faced of late is a major understatement. Both have been stellar, and deserve to be highlighted for their efforts.
Also important to note in this game was the inaugural appearances of both J.A. Happ and Brandon Lyon. I don’t know about you, but watching both of those guys help Darren Oliver shut the door on the Red Sox after Villanueva’s stellar start was, well, soothing. Neither got into trouble at all, although Happ did get one friendly call from the umpire at 1B, and neither allowed a hit or a walk. Happ needed only 6 pitches to get 2 outs in the 7th, while Lyon needed only 11 pitches to close the game out in the 9th.
Just in case you’re interested, Happ finished off both hitters he faced, Ryan Sweeney and Pedro Ciriaco, with a slider clocked at 84-85 MPH. With each hitter, Happ set them up with fastballs clocked at 90-91 MPH. Meanwhile, Lyon had a nicely working curveball sitting at 79 MPH which complimented his 90-92 MPH fastball and cutter very well.
The fact that the Jays were able to use Lyon instead of closer Casey Janssen is important to note. If Lyon can become a viable alternative to Janssen late in games, it takes a lot of pressure off of the closer and allows John Farrell the opportunity to rest him as required.
On a minors note, the other acquisition made by the Jays, David Carpenter, also had a successful debut. He threw 1.2 scoreless innings for Las Vegas, allowing only 1 hit and 1 BB while striking out 3. He somehow earned the blown save tag, but never allowed an earned run, so the run was likely the result of an error.
Offensively speaking, Adam Lind had a tough day at the plate, going 0 for 5 and leaving 5 runners on base, and Anthony Gose was lifted after going 0 for 3 in favour of Rajai Davis who made good on the opportunity and singled and walked in his 2 ABs. The remainder of the lineup were all able to get on base at least once, whether by way of a hit or a walk. Brett Lawrie, however, was one of the highlight as he drove in 3 runs. It’s a good thing he was able to return from injury to help the Jays out in this one! J.P. Arencibia drove a HR over the Green Monster and out of the park entirely, his 14th, and Edwin Encarnacion hit his 26th HR of the season.
I would add that in this game, Yunel Escobar made what can only be described as a careless play, one that definitely doesn’t help his trade value if the Jays are in fact shopping him. The error, his ninth of the season, was definitely something that could have been avoided and only worked to lengthen the inning. Otherwise, only a wild pitch by Villanueva was of note. Conversely, Travis Snider made an outstanding grab in the 9th inning, showing us a glimpse of what’s to come in LF.
The win brings the Jays to a .500 record once again, a half game behind the Red Sox, and tied with Cleveland at 3 games back of the wild card. Henderson Alvarez closes out the series against Jon Lester today. The Jays then get Monday off, and then have two tough home based 3-game series against the A’s and Tigers before heading to Seattle for a 3-game set, and then Oakland for another series versus the A’s.