July 2007

Game #106: Jays at Rays pregame

Where have you gone Jason Frasor?

Toronto (52-53) at Tampa Bay (40-65)
at 7:10 p.m. ET at Tropicana Field

Today’s lineups:

BLUE JAYS
Aaron Hill, 2B
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Alex Rios, RF
Troy Glaus, 3B
Vernon Wells, CF
Matt Stairs, LF
Gregg Zaun, C
Curtis Thigpen, DH
John McDonald, SS

PITCHING: RHP Jesse Litsch (3-4, 4.01 ERA)

DEVIL RAYS
Akinori Iwamura, 3B
Carl Crawford, LF
B.J. Upton, CF
Carlos Pena, 1B
Delmon Young, RF
Brendan Harris, 2B
Jonny Gomes, DH
Josh Paul, C
Ben Zobrist, SS

PITCHING: RHP Edwin Jackson (2-10, 7.00 ERA)

NOTES: With the way the Baseball Gods have been pouring rain on the state of Florida over the past few days, there’s a chance RHP A.J. Burnett’s rehab outing on Wednesday morning could be a wash. If that’s the case, it’s likely that Burnett will throw a simulated game under the lovely roof at the Trop prior to tomorrow’s game. … Thigpen took on the role of "Little Hurt," filling in as Toronto’s DH in order to give a day off to Frank Thomas. It’s only the second game this season that the Big Hurt has sat when the DH is in use. … LF Reed Johnson was also given the day off. … Surprise! The Jays made no trades by the 4 p.m. ET deadline. That didn’t stop one of the Jays to ring Glaus’ cell phone when the TVs in the clubhouse playing Baseball Tonight had the countdown down to just one minute. The room was filled with plenty of laughs when Glaus realized he had been dooped by one of his teammates. … Litsch received a warm welcome from the sparse crowd inside the Trop. He’s from nearby Pinellas Park and had plenty of family and friends in attendance. … Jays signed LHP Mark Redman to a Minor League contract and shipped him to Triple-A Syracuse. … The Jason Frasor watch continues. The invisible righty hasn’t pitched since July 20 and he’ll be the subject of the Jays notebook on the Web site today. So, stay tuned…

AL EAST STANDINGS
entering Tuesday
1. Boston 64-41 (–)
2. New York 56-49 (8)
3. Toronto 52-53 (12)
4. Baltimore 49-55 (14.5)
5. Tampa Bay 40-65 (24)

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Tuesday
1. Cleveland 60-45 (–)
2. Seattle 58-46 (1.5)
3. New York 56-49 (4)
4. Minnesota 54-51 (6)
5. Toronto 52-53 (8)

Game #105: Jays at Rays pregame

Toronto (52-52) at Tampa Bay (39-65)
at 7:10 p.m. ET at beautiful Tropicana Field

Today’s lineups:

BLUE JAYS
Reed Johnson, LF
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Alex Rios, RF
Troy Glaus, 3B
Vernon Wells, CF
Frank Thomas, DH
Aaron Hill, 2B
Gregg Zaun, C
John McDonald, SS

PITCHING: RHP Dustin McGowan (7-5, 4.45 ERA)

DEVIL RAYS
Akinori Iwamura, 3B
Brendan Harris, 2B
B.J. Upton, CF
Carlos Pena, 1B
Delmon Young, RF
Jonny Gomes, LF
Greg Norton, DH
Dioner Navarro, C
Ben Zobrist, SS

PITCHING: RHP Andy Sonnanstine (1-6, 5.57 ERA)

NOTES: Two days after optioning him to Triple-A Syracuse, LHP Gustavo Chacin had his option voided and was placed back on the 15-day disabled list. He’ll continue rehabbing at Triple-A, but will remain on the Major League roster, which means he’ll still be building up his big-league service time and receiving his big-league salary. … RHP Jesse Litsch, who spent time as the Devil Rays bat boy in the 2001-02 seasons, will take the mound at the Trop in front of a host of family and friends on Tuesday. Litsch is from nearby Pinellas Park. … STAT OF THE DAY: Toronto’s rotation has posted a 3.54 ERA since Burnett landed on the DL a second time. The rotation has a 4.50 ERA this season.

AL EAST STANDINGS
entering Monday
1. Boston 64-41 (–)
2. New York 56-49 (8)
3. Toronto 52-52 (11.5)
4. Baltimore 49-55 (14.5)
5. Tampa Bay 39-65 (24.5)

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Monday
1. Cleveland 60-45 (–)
2. Seattle 57-46 (2)
3. New York 56-49 (4)
4. Minnesota 53-51 (6.5)
5. Toronto 52-52 (7.5)

Game #104: Blue Jays at White Sox pregame

Toronto (51-52) at Chicago (48-56)
at 2:10 p.m. ET at U.S. Cellular Field

Today’s lineups:

BLUE JAYS
Reed Johnson, LF
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Alex Rios, RF
Troy Glaus, 3B
Vernon Wells, CF
Frank Thomas, DH
Aaron Hill, 2B
Curtis Thigpen, C
John McDonald, SS

PITCHING: RHP Shaun Marcum (6-4, 3.87 ERA)

WHITE SOX
Jerry Owens, CF
Alex Cintron, 3B
Jim Thome, DH
Jermaine Dye, RF
Rob Mackowiak, 1B
Juan Uribe, SS
Scott Podsednik, LF
Toby Hall, C
Danny Richar, 2B

PITCHING: RHP Javier Vazquez (8-5, 3.71 ERA)

NOTES: RHP A.J. Burnett threw in a bullpen session on Sunday and is slated to pitch in a Minor League rehab at 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday with the Gulf Coast Blue Jays — not with Class A Dunedin. … Stat of the Day: Blue Jays are 7-14 in one-run games on the road and 12-3 in one-run games at home this season. That plays a large role in the fact that Toronto is 31-20 at home and 20-32 away from the Rogers Centre.

AL EAST STANDINGS
entering Sunday
1. Boston 64-40 (–)
2. New York 55-49 (9)
3. Toronto 51-52 (12.5)
4. Baltimore 49-54 (14.5)
5. Tampa Bay 38-65 (25.5)

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Sunday
1. Cleveland 60-44 (–)
2. Seattle 56-46 (3)
3. New York 55-49 (5)
4. Minnesota 52-51 (7.5)
5. Toronto 51-52 (8.5)

Game #103: Blue Jays at White Sox pregame

Toronto (51-51) at Chicago (47-56)
at 7:11 p.m. ET at U.S. Cellular Field

Today’s lineups:

BLUE JAYS
Reed Johnson, LF
Alex Rios, RF
Troy Glaus, 3B
Vernon Wells, CF
Frank Thomas, DH
Aaron Hill, 2B
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Gregg Zaun, C
John McDonald, SS

PITCHING: RHP Roy Halladay (11-4, 4.15 ERA)

WHITE SOX
Jerry Owens, CF
Josh Fields, 3B
Jim Thome, DH
Paul Konerko, 1B
A.J. Pierzynski, C
Jermaine Dye, RF
Scott Podsednik, LF
Juan Uribe, SS
Danny Richar, 2B

PITCHING: LHP Mark Buehrle (7-6, 3.23 ERA)

NOTES: Plenty of reaction today on Josh Towers’ postgame tirade after Friday’s loss in Chicago. Check the Blue Jays notes on the club Web site later on to read the follow-up and I’ll probably post any leftovers on the issue on the blog later on. … The Phils called back about Towers, but Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi said there won’t be a deal, because the Phillies were offering too little. So Ricciardi said any deal with the Phils is over with. … Overbay, who was sent to the hospital on Friday after a bad bout of food poisoning, was back in the lineup and feeling better. … RHP A.J. Burnett is all go for launch. He’s scheduled to throw his first rehab game on Wednesday in Dunedin.

AL EAST STANDINGS
entering Saturday
1. Boston 63-40 (–)
2. New York 55-48 (8)
3. Toronto 51-51 (11.5)
4. Baltimore 48-54 (14.5)
5. Tampa Bay 38-64 (24.5)

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Saturday
1. Cleveland 60-43 (–)
2. Seattle 55-46 (4)
3. New York 55-48 (5)
4. Toronto 51-51 (8.5)
5. Minnesota 51-51 (8.5)

Thoughts?

From Mike Rutsey in Saturday’s Toronto Sun:

Gustavo Chacin will not be returning to the Blue Jays any time soon.

In fact, the bald Venezuelan lefty who bears a striking resemblance to former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, was optioned to triple-A Syracuse yesterday as he continues to progress from shoulder problems that have kept him on the sidelines since April 28.

Let’s take a look:

Mussolini2

070317_chacin_3_1

Game #102: Blue Jays at White Sox pregame

Sweet Home Chicago…

Toronto (51-50) at Chicago (46-56)
at 8:11 p.m. ET at U.S. Cellular Field

Today’s lineups:

BLUE JAYS
Reed Johnson, LF
Gregg Zaun, C
Alex Rios, RF
Troy Glaus, 3B
Vernon Wells, CF
Frank Thomas, DH
Aaron Hill, 2B
Matt Stairs, 1B
Royce Clayton, SS

PITCHING: RHP Josh Towers (5-6, 4.97 ERA)

WHITE SOX
Jerry Owens, CF
Alex Cintron, 2B
Jim Thome, DH
Jermaine Dye, RF
A.J. Pierzynski, C
Josh Fields, 3B
Scott Podsednik, LF
Juan Uribe, SS
Rob Mackowiak, 1B

PITCHING: RHP Jon Garland (7-7, 4.15 ERA)

NOTES: LHP Gustavo Chacin was activated from the 15-day disabled list and subsequently optioned to Triple-A Syracuse. GM J.P. Ricciardi said Chacin needed more time to rehab anyway, so the club felt it was best to keep him in the Minors. In reality, there’s simply no room in the inn in the rotation right now. … RHP A.J. Burnett threw a three-inning sim game and felt good, according to Ricciardi and manager John Gibbons. If Burnett feels fine on Saturday, he will likely do a rehab in Florida on Wednesday and then at Triple-A the following Monday. … 1B Lyle Overbay was not in the lineup due to flu-like symptoms. … Ricciardi said that he received a call from the Phillies about Towers, but there haven’t been any serious talks yet. … Prior to the game, the White Sox traded 2B Tad Iguchi to the Phillies for a Class A Minor Leaguer. … An interesting stat: Minnesota’s lone run in the fourth inning on Wednesday snapped a span of 37 scoreless innings with Zaun behind the plate for the Jays. That’s a club record and the longest streak in the bigs since Javy Lopez caught 42 straight scoreless frames with the Braves in 1998.

AL EAST STANDINGS
entering Friday
1. Boston 62-40 (–)
2. New York 54-47 (7.5)
3. Toronto 51-50 (10.5)
4. Baltimore 47-53 (14)
5. Tampa Bay 38-63 (23.5)

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Friday
1. Cleveland 59-43 (–)
2. Seattle 54-46 (4)
3. New York 54-47 (4.5)
4. Toronto 51-50 (7.5)
5. Minnesota 51-50 (7.5)

Game #101: Twins at Blue Jays pregame

Minnesota (51-49) at Toronto (50-50)
at 12:37 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

Today’s lineups:

TWINS
Luis Castillo, 2B
Jason Tyner, RF
Mike Redmond, C
Justin Morneau, DH
Torii Hunter, CF
Jason Kubel, LF
Jeff Cirillo, 1B
Luis Rodriguez, 3B
Nick Punto, SS

PITCHING: RHP Carlos Silva (8-10, 4.60 ERA)

BLUE JAYS
Howie Clark, 3B
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Alex Rios, RF
Vernon Wells, CF
Frank Thomas, DH
Matt Stairs, LF
Aaron Hill, 2B
Gregg Zaun, C
John McDonald, SS

PITCHING: RHP Jesse Litsch (2-4, 4.54 ERA)

NOTES: Not much today. Toronto manager John Gibbons put all his left-handed sticks in the lineup today to face Silva, who has been hit at a .314 clip by lefties this season. … After the off-day on Thursday, the Jays plan on simply bumping their rotation back one day for each pitcher. So Josh Towers will take the ball on Friday and Roy Halladay on Saturday. Towers won’t be skipped, considering his regular turn falls on Thursday.

AL EAST STANDINGS
entering Wednesday
1. Boston 61-39 (–)
2. New York 53-46 (7.5)
3. Toronto 50-50 (11)
4. Baltimore 45-53 (15)
5. Tampa Bay 38-61 (22.5)

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Wednesday
1. Cleveland 58-42 (–)
2. Seattle 54-44 (3)
3. New York 53-46 (4.5)
4. Minnesota 51-49 (7)
5. Toronto 50-50 (8)

Better Late Than Never

Well, for some reason, the MLBlogs system wouldn’t let me log in today and so you loyal Bastianites out there were left without a pregame post to help feed your daily Blue Jays banter. Of course, as I’m ready to depart the cavernous dome that Toronto dominates so well, the blogger is up and running.

So, no lineups for you all to digest, but I’ll offer my postgame thoughts. Dustin McGowan looked good tonight. No, his stuff didn’t look particularly dominant, but when he can walk away with those results (7 1/3 scoreless innings and only four hits allowed), under the circumstances, it’s pretty impressive.

Go back two starts, when McGowan admitted he was shaking off signs from Gregg Zaun in Boston, where the pitcher was afraid to throw his curve. He became one-dimensional and the BoSox sent him to the showers after a complete beatdown. McGowan said manager John Gibbons spoke with him about using the curve, even when it’s not at its best, and the pitcher has listened.

The result? No more win, loss, win, loss, etc; for an eighth straight outing. Over the past two starts, McGowan has allowed two runs and he’s picked up two straight wins. During this four-game set, Toronto has turned in three shutouts, courtesy of Josh Towers, Roy Halladay, McGowan and some zeroes from the relief corps.

Good timing, considering both Seattle and Minnesota are above the Jays in the Wild Card race. But it hasn’t just been the pitching. During the four-game winning streak — still hard to believe that’s the longest of the year, or maybe it’s really not hard to believe with all the injuries and lineup woes — Toronto has outscored its opponents 22-4.

A significant streak is needed if the Jays want to make any kind of impact in the Wild Card race. Four games won’t cut it. Toronto needs to use capitalize on the chance it has right now and issue a sweep over the Twins on Wednesday. That would be a 5-1 homestand before hitting the road to face the White Sox and Devil Rays — teams Toronto should, key word "should", beat.

Being a realist, I don’t think the Jays will be able to make up the ground it needs to cover to get back in the postseason hunt. I know, stranger things have happened, but right now I just don’t see it. If Jesse Litsch can show something tomorrow, and Towers can continue his run until A.J. Burnett returns, I guess anything’s possible. But it seems like a task far too tall with only 62 games left on the ol’ schedule.

Game #99 Twins at Blue Jays pregame

It was a lovely pair of days off back here in Toronto. I don’t count Friday, because I was traveling for what seemed like all day. I actually wandered over to the ballpark yesterday and caught the last few innings. I was at home doing laundry, flipped on the tube to see Halladay and Felix locked in a pitcher’s duel, and since I don’t live too far from the stadium, I decided to go check it out live while my wife was at work. Of course, as soon as I get into the pressbox, Alex Rios gets things unraveling for Seattle with a bases-loaded hit and the Jays follow with three more homers. So, you can thank yours truly for getting the Jays’ offense going yesterday. In the eighth inning, Mike Wilner of the FAN590 walked up to me in the pressbox to deliver a message from my wife, who sent him an instant message: "Kelly says to tell you she’s home early, and she knew you’d be here because you’re lame." Nice. I had a good laugh. Anyway, now it’s back to work with today’s pregame:

————————————————————————————————-

Minnesota (51-47) at Toronto (48-50)
at 7:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

Today’s lineups:

TWINS
Luis Castillo, 2B
Jason Bartlett, SS
Joe Mauer, C
Justin Morneau, 1B
Torii Hunter, CF
Jason Kubel, LF
Rondell White, DH
Jason Tyner, RF
Nick Punto, 3B

PITCHING: LHP Johan Santana (11-7, 2.65 ERA)

BLUE JAYS
Reed Johnson, LF
Alex Rios, RF
Troy Glaus, 3B
Vernon Wells, CF
Frank Thomas, DH
Aaron Hill, 2B
Matt Stairs, 1B
Curtis Thigpen, C
Royce Clayton, SS

PITCHING: RHP Shaun Marcum (5-4, 3.73 ERA)

NOTES: About those Jack Wilson rumors, said GM J.P. Ricciardi: "I have no interest in Jack Wilson." So, there you go. That’s that. … Ricciardi also added that the Phillies had not inquired about RHP Josh Towers, but he wouldn’t rule out listening to offers from teams about the Jays. It doesn’t hurt to keep an ear open. … Thigpen was making his first start behind the plate this year. … Stairs started at first over Lyle Overbay because of their respective numbers versus Santana, according to manager John Gibbons. Overbay has hit .091 (1-for-11) off the two-time Cy Young winner, while Stairs has hit .231 (3-for-13). … LHP Gustavo Chacin was scheduled to throw three innings for Triple-A Syracuse on Monday. … Turns out that Gibbons and pitching coach Brad Arnberg were Minor League teammates with Scott Coolbaugh, the brother of Mike Coolbaugh — the Double-A Tulsa first base coach who was killed by a line drive on Sunday. Mike Coolbaugh made his home in San Antonio, which is where Gibbons lives. "That touched my heart," said Jays third base coach Brian Butterfield.

AL EAST STANDINGS
entering Monday
1. Boston 59-39 (–)
2. New York 51-46 (7.5)
3. Toronto 48-50 (11)
4. Baltimore 44-53 (14.5)
5. Tampa Bay 38-60 (21)

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Monday
1. Cleveland 58-40 (–)
2. Seattle 54-41 (2.5)
3. New York 51-46 (6.5)
4. Minnesota 51-47 (7)
5. Toronto 48-50 (10)
6. Oakland 46-52 (12)

Taking a Short Break

You guys probably noticed, since there was no pregame post here tonight, that I took the day off. I’m actually taking this three-game series vs. Seattle off to catch up on some sleep and to recover from the 23 straight days I just spent on the road. My trusty assistant, Gregor Chisholm, will be holding down the fort for MLB.com at the Rogers Centre.

It’s been a long and interesting trip that took me through Seattle, Oakland, San Francisco, Boston and New York. From a homeless woman in Seattle holding and kissing a live rabbit, running into Jeremy Accardo on the BART on the way to the Coliseum in Oakland, experiencing all the madness that was All-Star Week in San Francisco, losing my luggage but meeting some interesting people on a flight from the Bay to Boston, having a security guard kick a man who told me he killed two people out of a mall in Beantown, meeting up with my old college roomate in the Big Apple and seeing the view of the Manhattan from the top of the Met, to having a steam exlosion blow a 25-foot wide hole into a street just two blocks from my hotel in Midtown. After all that, and covering baseball, I’m ready for a nice, long nap.

I will be back at the computer and in the pressbox for the upcoming three-game set against the Twins. Then, it’s back on the road through Chicago, where I’ll get to meet up with some family, and then down to Tampa Bay to cover Toronto’s inactivity at the trade deadline. Until I’m back posting, keep the discussion alive in the comments.

One bit of news today was the Blue Jays released catcher Jason Phillips after Friday’s game. Toronto is going to recall catcher Curtis Thigpen, who will assume Phillips’ role as the backup catcher/first baseman. You can bet that Thigpen will see action behind the plate a few times a week. He’s proven he can hit in the bigs, and he might have a better chance at throwing out some runners. With the Jays rapidly falling out of the race, it makes sense that the club would prefer to give a younger player like Thigpen more playing time.

What do you guys think of the move?

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