The exhibition season is officially a go. The Toronto Blue Jays take on the Atlanta Braves at Champions Stadium in Orlando, Fl.
Blue Jays baseball has officially started today at 1:05 PM Eastern Time. The Grapefruit League debut against the Atlanta Braves was not televised but was on the FAN 590. This gave me the opportunity to listen to the broadcast of Jerry Howarth. He was joined by Buck Martinez for a few innings and you could tell he was excited to kick of the season.
Casey Lawrence gets the Blue Jays first start of the Spring and took on Bartolo Colon of the Braves. The Blue Jays brought the younglings with them to Orlando to face the Braves opening day lineup. The young but talented group was looking to impress and is compete for a good standing with the big league club. Casey Lawrence got the ball and first chance to impress on the mound. Lawrence got 28 starts between Double and Triple A last season where he went 8-12 with a 4.17 ERA. He actually did better once promoted to Triple A Buffalo where he allowed just a .260 opposing batting average over 87 innings.
The Blue Jays starting lineup looked very different for most Jays fans. The team of youngsters was highlighted with 5 of the Jays top prospects. The Jays brass has made it abundantly clear that the planned on using this Spring as a time to evaluate their prospects. The baby birds were highly motivated and looking to feed on the Braves young pitchers. Here is the lineup that started for the Jays
In the second inning the Jays were looking to open up the scoring for the Spring. Rowdy Tellez started the inning with a ground rule double into center. Anthony Alford followed with another double. The hard hit ball to left scored Tellez to put the Jays up 1-0. Casey Lawrence was able to keep things going and pitched 2 solid innings. He would allow just 1 hit while walking and striking out 1 batter as well. Lawrence looked good as he limited the Braves main lineup to nothing over his 2 innings of work.
In the top of the 4th the Jays struck for a pair of runs to put the Jays up by 3. Darrell Ceciliani started the rally off with a double to center. Rowdy Tellez worked a walk to follow on a great at bat versus veteran left John Danks. Reese McGuire laced a 1 out double down the right field line to score the speedy Ceciliani. Dwight Smith Jr. would score Tellez on a fielders choice to make the score 3-0.
Jeff Beliveau would start off the bottom of the 4th after Lucas Harrell pitched a scoreless 3rd inning. Beliveau would not have as much success as Lawrence and Harrell. Beliveau would record just 1 out and allow 2 earned runs. Blue Jays Rule 5 Draft pick Glenn Sparkman came in to salvage the inning. Sparkman quickly recorded the 2 outs to escape the inning.
On to the top of the 5th where the Jays were able to scrap together another run. Richard Urena burned out a double to lead off the inning. He would score on a Jake Elmore single. Sparkman would take the ball in the bottom of the inning and have a rough time with it. He would allow 4 earned runs and record just 1 more out during the inning. Chris Rowley came out and finished the inning. The damage was done however as the Jays were now down 6-4.
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Ryan Borucki pitched a scoreless 6th inning. He had his slider working as he mowed through the Braves hitters. He did allow 1 hit and a walk while striking out one during a solid first outing. Over the remainder of the game Jarret Grube would throw a shut down inning and Wil Browning would allow the 7th Braves run.
The Jays would lose but there were plenty of things that went well. Casey Lawrence was great in his first outing and looks like he could be valuable depth. Rowdy Tellez picked up were he left off last season and proved very productive against veteran pitching of the Braves. He finished 1-2 with 2 runs scored and an RBI. Jake Elmore went 3-3 with an RBI. Darrell Cecilani also collected a pair of hits and scored a run.
Baseball is back for the Blue Jays and they have a split squad outing tomorrow. Expect the baby birds to be playing against the Yankees in Clearwater tomorrow. Brett Oberholtzer will be taking on the Yankees in that game. While in Dunedin the veteran Jays will be taking on the Phillies. Matt Latos will be taking on Jeremy Hellickson in that match up.