Blue Jays Shutout Rays: Game Notes and Grades
Led by 20-year-old pitching phenoms Roberto Osuna and Miguel Castro, the Blue Jays limited the Rays to three hits in a shutout Sunday afternoon in Dunedin. Osuna, receiving the start because Marco Estrada had tweaked his ankle during PFP’s, threw 3.2 clean innings, scattering a couple hits, 1 BB and 1 HBP.
Osuna flashed a strong ability to work ahead with his heavy fastball, and use his off speed pitches to put hitters away. His change up, which has received excellent reviews, was on display. He used the change to strikeout Bobby Wilson and John Jaso back-to-back in the third inning. Overall, another impressive performance from Osuna.
Entering the game with a runner on second base in the fourth inning, this will sound like a broken record, but once again, Castro was simply overpowering. Combining his mature ability to get on top of the fastball and drive it into the bottom of the zone at 96-98 mph, he mixed in his change up and slider when he needed to, and used his slider to rack up four strikeouts through 2.1 IP. Including the Rays best hitter, Evan Longoria, who waved at a sharp slider in the sixth.
Along with those exciting performances from the young guns, the Jays received scoreless innings from bullpen hopefuls Colt Hynes, Bo Schultz, and Chad Jenkins. Jenkins seems to have the best opportunity of the three to make the 25 man roster, but Colt Hynes could sneak into the pen as the third lefty. Gibbons has mentioned earlier in spring that it would be nice to have a third lefty available out of the pen if Brett Cecil is closing games. Hynes, has put up 6.2 scoreless innings after today, including a 6 K’s with zero BB’s.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Jays scored their first two runs after doubles by Jose Reyes and Devon Travis led off the first and third innings. Both runners were advanced on a groundout to the right side and driven in by groundouts from Bautista and Reyes respectively. Russell Martin has had a slow start to spring with the bat, but delivered two hits including a solo home run in the sixth inning. He jumped on a belt high fastball from lefty Mike Montgomery, and drove it over the wall in right centre. A good sign from a hitter to relies on driving the ball back up the middle of the field.
- Osuna and Castro impress again. The aforementioned six scoreless innings from the two gave glimpses of the future, perhaps as early as opening day, especially for Castro. As of right now, it looks like Castro is winning himself a job with his pure stuff and ability to pound the zone. Gibbons joined Buck Martinez and Joe Siddall during the T.V. broadcast on Sportsnet and once again alluded to the fact that Castro has a chance to be on the opening day roster. This seemed like a long shot at the beginning of spring, but it’s starting to look like a guarantee. Through 9 IP, he’s surrendered 3 hits while striking out 8 and issuing no free passes.
- Travis continues to hit the ball well. Working himself into a good hitters count in the third inning, he drove a fastball from Rays starter Everett Teaford into the left centre gap. He’s now 14/37 with 6 2B’s this spring, and his hitting himself into an opening day gig.
- Martin shows signs of finding his timing. After singling in the third inning, he drove a fastball over the right centre wall. He’s suffered a slow start to spring while learning a new staff and working hard to improve behind the plate while R.A. Dickey is pitching, but if he can find his timing at the dish before the season starts, that would be a terrific sign for the Jays.
- Jenkins, who can potentially find himself on the opening day 25 man roster, threw a scoreless inning with 3 K’s. His potential spot in the bullpen could depend on whether Gibbons wants a third lefty with Brett Cecil closing. If so, he looks to be in competition with Estrada and Todd Redmond for the last RHP spot. If they don’t take an extra lefty, his chances of making the team will receive a boost. Regardless, a good performance from a pitcher who’s on the bubble.