Sep 26, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays left fielderDalton Pompey
(45) hits an RBI triple in the fifth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Well, who would have thought that the division leaders would throw the ball around while the Blue Jays took the win last night?
The Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Baltimore Orioles at the Rogers Centre in a very interesting game, considering it meant nothing to the playoff race. While other American League baseball fans waited for results of Kansas City, Detroit, Oakland, and Seattle, Blue Jays faithful were witness to the coming-out party of left fielder Dalton Pompey.
The young, 21-year-old from Mississauga, Ontario put on an absolute show for his hometown team.
Pompey has only played fifteen games for the Blue Jays, while Melky Cabrera is injured. Toronto has been realistically out of the playoff hunt for a number of games, and the team’s brass have wanted to evaluate the young players they had in the minors. Kevin Pillar has had some playing time, with decent results. With Colby Rasmus and Cabrera potentially leaving the club, assessing assets in the outfield is a must, helping to prepare for off-season decisions needing to be made.
The decision may be a bit easier, depending on how you look at Pompey’s performance. In thirty-two at-bats, he has hit .250 with four RBIs, a stolen base, and scoring five times, using speed as a weapon on the base paths. You can’t teach speed, but you can teach hitting. Anthony Gose has speed, but Pompey also has a .500 slugging punch. Last night, Pompey became only the third rookie in Blue Jays history to hit two triples in the same game. His smart, aggressive baserunning pressured the Orioles to make a throwing error to home plate, allowing Pompey to score on a slightly awkward slide. That’s not to say that he is a saviour; Pompey still needs work to hit against lefty pitchers (.100), and should look to increase his sample size this weekend.
One thing is clear though: his defense is pretty incredible too. A few days ago, Pompey made an incredible catch for J.A. Happ and the Blue Jays, while playing center field against the Seattle Mariners. The catch landed him on the top five plays of the day video clip from MLB.com. Pompey’s catch in left field last night was just as amazing, diving into foul territory flat-out to make the play.
Brendan Kennedy of The Toronto Star reported manager John Gibbons as saying, “He’s showing…everything we need to see, that’s for sure.” Pompey also added that he was excited for his dream to come true and “having that moment where they appreciate the effort that I’m giving.” The crowd went wild for everything the local boy did, becoming a human highlight reel. How many Blue Jays do fans get thrills just by anticipating the next big thing about to happen?
Drew Hutchison had another good outing, giving up five hits and only two earned runs in five innings to record the victory. He struck out eight black-and-orange, while allowing a walk, ending his season as a starter with eleven wins and thirteen losses. Marcus Stroman came in as relief to strike out four batters to blank the Orioles the rest of the way, recording his first save.
However, not even the StroShow could take the night from Pompey. With Jose Bautista likely staying for the foreseeable future, the Blue Jays’ outfield has two questions to be solved. What are they going to do about center and left field? Debate has floated around about trading either veterans Mark Buehrle or R.A. Dickey for another position player who can hit, either playing in the outfield or at second base. Ryan Goins has incredible defense, but his bat has been proven suspect. Cabrera has said how much he loves the city and playing with his friends in Toronto, but he is also likely to get pretty steep offers from other clubs that management will not match or surpass. Rasmus is pretty much done, considering, even when healthy, he was asked to either ride the bench or pinch hit late in games. Pillar may be ready to play with the big club and also could be ready to drop off the face of the earth. Gose…well, you need to be able to bunt if you can’t hit. He can’t do either. One thing is for sure though: Pompey’s talent, if sustainable, makes the outfield look less of a problem.