Mar 31, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Jeremy Jeffress (33) throws a pitch during the eighth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 9-2. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
In the long line of season story lines, this was not the beginning the Toronto Blue Jays were looking pen to start their 2014 rebound novel. In fact, this was about as far removed from perfection as the Blue Jays could get.
The setting was familiar, with an afternoon romp at the Trop against the Tampa Bay Rays, and unfortunately the results were all too familiar as well, as Joe Maddon‘s squad had their way with R.A. Dickey and the Blue Jays, handing Toronto a 9-2 loss on Opening Day.
Trouble started almost immediately for Toronto, with lead-off hitter Jose Reyes hitting a sinking looper to center field that was snared by Desmond Jennings. At first it looked like lady luck was toying with the Jays again, sending the breaks the other way right off the bat. However, it got much worse when the team took the field in the bottom of the first inning, and Ryan Goins came out to replace Reyes at shortstop. Reyes apparently had his hamstring grab on him while rounding first base on the flare, re-aggravating an injury that had plagued him in the final days of camp.
But the luck continued in the bottom of the inning, right about the time Dickey took to the mound. The veteran knuckle-baller, trying to get off to a better start in 2014, retired the first batter he faced in David DeJesus. However, Wil Myers doubled off the wall in center and then came around to score on a two-out single by Evan Longoria.
Two-out RBI continued to plague Dickey in the bottom of the second inning. After allowing a lead-off double to Desmond Jennings and then walking Matt Joyce, Dickey struck-out Jose Molina looking and got Yunel Escobar to pop out. However, he would walk David DeJesus with two-outs before our old friend Myers stepped back up and laced a two-run single to center, giving Tampa a 3-0 lead.
Same story, different players in the 3rd, when Dickey sandwiched a pair of walks to Longoria and Jennings around a James Loney ground-out. Longoria would advance to 3rd on a wild pitch and then score on a Matt Joyce sacrifice fly. And again in the fifth, when Matt Joyce cashed in another pair of walks to give Tampa a 6-0 lead.
Overall for R.A. Dickey, the stat line ends up looking disgusting. In five innings of work, Dickey would allow 5 hits, 6 walks and 6 earned runs while striking out 4.
After two decent innings of relief out of Esmil Rogers, the Blue Jays caught a glimmer of hope when pinch hitter Erik Kratz delivered a two-run home run to center field in the top of the 8th, scoring Maicer Izturis (2 hits) in the process. However, that was quickly given back when Jeremy Jeffress took the hill in the bottom of the 8th.
After getting his first batter to ground out, Jeffress proceeded to hit David DeJesus with two strikes. That’s when this happened.
Overall, Jeffress was completely ineffective. In one inning of work, he threw 35 pitches (23 strikes), hit two batters and walked another while allowing 3 earned runs. He received an early hook to the waiver lines last season and I can imagine he may see a similar on this year if performances like that are what we have to look forward to.
Outside of the two hits from Izturis and the home run from Kratz, the Blue Jays saw little of worth to take away from this game. So to sum it up for those that missed the game in a few quick sentences:
– Reyes starts the Blue Jays injury wagon rolling in the first inning.
– R.A. Dickey walks everyone in Tampa.
– Erik Kratz hits a pinch hit home run.
– Jeremy Jeffress gets in Brett Lawrie’s way and throws the game away.