August 2007

Game #134: M's at Jays pregame

Seattle (73-59) at Toronto (67-66)
at 7:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

Today’s lineups:

MARINERS
Ichiro Suzuki, CF
Jose Vidro, 2B
Jose Guillen, RF
Raul Ibanez, DH
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Ben Broussard, 1B
Kenji Johjima, C
Adam Jones, LF
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS

PITCHING: LHP Jarrod Washburn (9-11, 4.13 ERA)

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

PITCHING: RHP Shaun Marcum (11-5, 3.62 ERA)

NOTES: When approached by a pack of reporters, Wells discussed his left shoulder injury a little more on Friday. A little more, but not much. The Jays $126 million man offered up plenty of "no comments" and said he had every intention of playing through the rest of the season. Said Wells: "Personally, I have no reason to say anything. I’ve been playing all year. Obviously, it hasn’t been a good year, but I’ve not thought to say anything, because it’s really not something I needed to make a comment about." I guess we should’ve asked how Wells felt about having hitting coach Micket Brantley bring the issue to light earlier this week. … All you Robinzon Diaz fans out there, don’t expect to see the catching prospect up for September callups. Diaz is going to undergo surgery on the hamate in his left hand and is out for 6-8 weeks. … So, as for those September additions? GM J.P. Ricciardi said one player will be added on Saturday and the rest — possibly four or five others, by my estimation — will be up on Tuesday. Looks like OF Adam Lind, possibly C Sal Fasano, and pitchers Josh Banks and Joe Kennedy are likely. Manager John Gibbons said no coaches would be added and the Jays might go with another position player. Hector Luna anyone? We’ll see. … For those of you who haven’t read, LHP Gus Chacin underwent exploratory surgery on his left shoulder and they found a slight tear in his rotator cuff. Said Ricciardi: "Chacin should be ready by Spring Training — ready to pitch and compete for a job."

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Friday
1. New York 75-59 (–)
2. Seattle 73-59 (1)
3. Detroit 72-62 (3)
4. Minnesota 67-66 (7.5)
5. Toronto 67-66 (7.5)

REALITY CHECK…Since 1995, the runner-up in the AL Wild Card race has finished with an average of 89 victories. The Blue Jays would need to go 23-6 over their final 29 games to reach 90 wins.

Game #133: Jays at A's pregame

Toronto (67-65) at Oakland (65-69)
at 3:35 p.m. ET at McAfee Coliseum

Today’s lineups:

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

PITCHING: RHP Roy Halladay (14-6, 3.86 ERA)

ATHLETICS
Mark Ellis, 2B
Nick Swisher, RF
Jack Cust, LF
Mike Piazza, DH
Dan Johnson, 1B
Marco Scutaro, SS
Jack Hannahan, 3B
Rob Bowen, C
Jeff DaVannon, CF

PITCHING: LHP Lenny DiNardo (8-7, 3.57 ERA)

NOTES: Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi confirmed that Wells has been playing with tightness in his shoulder. The injury dates back to last season and Ricciardi said the club will have it examined after this season is over. It hasn’t been considered serious enough to pull Wells out of the lineup. … LHP Gustavo Chacin was scheduled to undergo exploratory surgery on his throwing shoulder on Wednesday. … Zaun’s left knee was still sore, but the catcher appeared in the starting lineup.

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Wednesday
1. Seattle 73-57 (–)
2. New York 73-59 (1)
3. Detroit 71-61 (3)
4. Minnesota 67-65 (7)
5. Toronto 67-65 (7)

REALITY CHECK…Since 1995, the runner-up in the AL Wild Card race has finished with an average of 89 victories. The Blue Jays would need to go 23-7 over their final 30 games to reach 90 wins.

Game #132: Jays at A's pregame

Toronto (66-65) at Oakland (65-68)
at 10:05 p.m. ET at McAfee Coliseum

Today’s lineups:

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

PITCHING: RHP Jesse Litsch (5-6, 3.44 ERA)

ATHLETICS
Shannon Stewart, LF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Nick Swisher, CF
Jack Cust, RF
Mike Piazza, DH
Dan Johnson, 1B
Marco Scutaro, SS
Jack Hannahan , 3B
Kurt Suzuki, C

PITCHING: RHP Chad Gaudin (10-9, 4.12 ERA)

NOTES: After sticking with virtually the same lineup for weeks, manager John Gibbons opted to place Wells back in the leadoff spot. Toronto is 10-6 with Wells in the No. 1 slot, where he’s hit .304 with a .377 on-base percentage, .667 slugging percentage, seven homers and 16 RBIs. For the year, Wells is hitting .258/.309/.430 with 15 homers and 74 RBIs in 128 games. Hitting coach Mickey Brantley also revealed on Tuesday that Wells has been playing with a hurt shoulder for some time now. … Jays also signed LHP Joe Kennedy to a Minor League deal and sent the southpaw to Triple-A Syracuse. GM J.P. Ricciardi said Kennedy would likely be up with the Jays after roster expand and the pitcher would get a shot at being a situational lefty out of the bullpen. … C Gregg Zaun wasn’t in the lineup after hurting his leg during Monday’s game. Zaun said his knee was a bit "puffy" when he woke up, but he believed the injury stemmed more from his calf and hamstring. He said he expects to be OK for Wednesday’s game. … Gibbons said DH Frank Thomas was simply getting a day off.

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Tuesday
1. Seattle 73-56 (–)
2. New York 72-59 (2)
3. Detroit 71-60 (3)
4. Minnesota 67-64 (7)
5. Toronto 66-65 (8)

REALITY CHECK…Since 1995, the runner-up in the AL Wild Card race has finished with an average of 89 victories. The Blue Jays would need to go 24-7 over their final 31 games to reach 90 wins.

Game #131: Jays at A's pregame

Toronto (65-65) at Oakland (65-67)
at 10:05 p.m. ET at McAfee Coliseum

Today’s lineups:

BLUE JAYS
Matt Stairs, LF
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Alex Rios, RF
Vernon Wells, CF
Frank Thomas, DH
Troy Glaus, 3B
Aaron Hill, 2B
Gregg Zaun, C
Ray Olmedo, SS

PITCHING: RHP A.J. Burnett (7-7, 3.85 ERA)

ATHLETICS
Shannon Stewart, LF
Jeff DaVannon, CF
Nick Swisher, RF
Jack Cust, DH
Mark Ellis, 2B
Dan Johnson, 1B
Marco Scutaro, SS
Jack Hannahan , 3B
Kurt Suzuki, C

PITCHING: RHP Esteban Loaiza (1-0, 1.17 ERA)

NOTES: GM J.P. Ricciardi said on Monday that LHP Gustavo Chacin is set to undergo exploratory surgery on Wednesday. The operation will be performed by Dr. David Altchek, who is an orthopedic surgeon for the Mets. The Jays had Dr. Steve Mirabello look at Chacin’s shoulder and he deemed that surgery wasn’t required — only rehab. Chacin wanted a second opinion, and his agency reccomended Altchek, who reported that he believes something is wrong with the shoulder capshule in Chacin’s arm, according to Ricciardi. There’s no timetable for Chacin’s return, considering it’s unclear what type of surgery is going to take place. The Jays will know more after Wednesday. … Ricciardi added that he will explore the pitching market this offseason, but mainly as a way to potentially fill in the back end of the rotation. With Roy Halladay, Burnett, Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowan, Ricciardi doesn’t feel he needs a front-line starter — and the free-agent pitching crop is thin again this winter. … Jays manager John Gibbons said he met with McGowan to tell the pitcher he needs to pay more attention to baserunners, especially ones on second base. On Sunday, the Angels’ Gary Matthews Jr. swiped third base and scored on a throwing error by Zaun. McGowan uses a leg kick while in the stretch that baserunners have used to their advantage this season. … This month, Toronto has faced former Jays Roger Clemens, Steve Trachsel, Kelvim Escobar and Loaiza. Entering Monday, those four had combined to go 5-0 with a 1.78 ERA, 25 strikeouts and four walks against Toronto this month. After facing Loaiza on Monday, Toronto gets a crack at former Jay Chad Gaudin.

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Monday
1. Seattle 73-55 (–)
2. New York 72-58 (2)
3. Detroit 70-60 (4)
4. Minnesota 67-63 (7)
5. Toronto 65-65 (9)

REALITY CHECK…Since 1995, the runner-up in the AL Wild Card race has finished with an average of 89 victories. The Blue Jays would need to go 25-7 over their final 32 games to reach 90 wins.

Game #130: Jays at Angels pregame

Toronto (65-64) at Los Angeles (75-53)
at 3:35 p.m. ET at Angel Stadium

Today’s lineups:

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

PITCHING: RHP Dustin McGowan (8-7, 4.19 ERA)

ANGELS
Reggie Willits, RF
Orlando Cabrera, SS
Vlad Guerrero, DH
Garret Anderson, LF
Maicer Izturis, 3B
Gary Matthews Jr., CF
Kendry Morales, 1B
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Jeff Mathis, C

PITCHING: RHP Kelvim Escobar (14-6, 2.85 ERA)

NOTES: Another day, the same lineup. Manager John Gibbons said on Saturday that he’s enjoyed having a healthy lineup, so he doesn’t have to mix and match the order as much as he had to earlier this year. That’s why this has somewhat become the standard lineup. … Other than that, and that’s a note about nothing really, there’s nothing really new today. Rios still hasn’t homered since July 23 — a span of 114 at-bats. … GM J.P. Ricciardi did say on Saturday that he "has every intention" of bringing Matt Stairs back in 2008. … Not every quote from Zaun made it into yesterday’s notes, either. Here’s one gem he offered, when asked about his suffering on-base percentage: "That’s a combination of not getting as many hits and it’s also a biproduct of the situations that I’m hitting in. I could be selfish. I could go up there and swing at the first pitch like a lot of our guys do, but I don’t play that kind of game." Burn.

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Sunday
1. Seattle 73-54 (–)
2. New York 72-57 (2)
3. Detroit 69-60 (5)
4. Minnesota 66-63 (8)
5. Toronto 65-64 (9)

REALITY CHECK…Since 1995, the runner-up in the AL Wild Card race has finished with an average of 89 victories. The Blue Jays would need to go 25-8 over their final 33 games to reach 90 wins.

Game #129: Jays at Angels pregame

Toronto (64-64) at Los Angeles (75-53)
at 9:05 p.m. ET at Angel Stadium

Today’s lineups:

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

PITCHING: RHP Shaun Marcum (10-5, 3.65 ERA)

ANGELS
Reggie Willits, LF
Orlando Cabrera, SS
Vlad Guerrero, RF
Garret Anderson, DH
Gary Matthews Jr., CF
Maicer Izturis, 3B
Kendry Morales, 1B
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Jeff Mathis, C

PITCHING: LHP Joe Saunders (7-1, 3.25 ERA)

NOTES: The only thing different on Saturday’s lineup card was the date and the starting pitcher. … Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi said there could be as many as five players called up on Sept. 1. It appears as though it will be Adam Lind, either catcher Sal Fasano or Robinzon Diaz, possibly pitcher Josh Banks and one or two other players. … Jays manager John Gibbons said RHP Brandon League (oblique strain) threw a simulated game on Thursday in the Gulf Coast League and the pitcher will likely make two rehab outings before being activated after rosters expand on Sept. 1. … Zaun is in the midst of an 0-for-21 skid at the plate. He said his struggles have been a combination of running into some tough luck, having his right hand not back at full strength, and batting eighth. Batting in front of the light-hitting McDonald has led Zaun to be more aggressive at the plate, which helps explain his dimishing on-base percentage.

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Saturday
1. Seattle 73-53 (–)
2. New York 71-57 (3)
3. Detroit 69-59 (5)
4. Minnesota 65-63 (9)
5. Toronto 64-64 (10)

REALITY CHECK…Since 1995, the runner-up in the AL Wild Card race has finished with an average of 89 victories. The Blue Jays would need to go 26-8 over their final 34 games to reach 90 wins.

Game #128: Jays at Angels pregame

Toronto (64-63) at Los Angeles (74-53)
at 10:05 p.m. ET at Angel Stadium

Today’s lineups:

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

PITCHING: RHP Roy Halladay (14-5, 3.89 ERA)

ANGELS
Reggie Willits, DH
Orlando Cabrera, SS
Vlad Guerrero, RF
Garret Anderson, LF
Gary Matthews Jr., CF
Maicer Izturis, 3B
Kendry Morales, 1B
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Jeff Mathis, C

PITCHING: RHP Jered Weaver (8-6, 4.16 ERA)

NOTES: The lineup returned to its normal state. For a while this season, manager John Gibbons was mixing and matching his players on a daily basis. Now, with the cast healthy again, it appears he’s settled on the above lineup. … Maybe the Jays are playing their way out of the playoff picture, but at least they’ll always have that awesome doubles streak. If Toronto records a double tonight, it’ll mark 31 straight games with at least one two-bagger to equal a club record set in 2004. … More doubles data: Wells (36), Rios (35) and Hill (35) are each on pace to finish with at least 40 doubles this year. The Jays have only had three players tally at least 40 doubles in a season once — 1991, when Joe Carter (42), Roberto Alomar (41) and Devon White (40) accomplished the feat.

HE SAID IT: "That might be the biggest win of the season for us right there. After getting swept at home and having a losing homestand, I admit, I peaked at the scoreboard a couple times today and saw that the clubs ahead of us had already won. A double-digit deficit this late in the season is kind of hard to come back from, so it was a big lift for us to get a win." – Zaun, after Thursday’s 5-4 win over the Angels

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Friday
1. Seattle 72-53 (–)
2. New York 71-56 (2)
3. Detroit 68-59 (5)
4. Toronto 64-63 (9)
5. Minnesota 64-63 (9)
6. Oakland 65-64 (9)

TICK, TOCK…Since 1995, the runner-up in the AL Wild Card race has finished with an average of 89 victories. The Blue Jays would need to go 26-9 over their final 35 games to reach 90 wins.

Game #127: Jays at Angels pregame

ANAHEIM – Ah, sunny California. I arrived on Wednesday and made it over to my cousin’s house, where my Aunt whipped up some awesome homemade enchiladas. Now, I’m chilling in the open-air pressbox here at Angel Stadium, which is one of y favorite parks to work in. The clubhouse before today’s game sure didn’t have the feel of one occupied by a team that just got swept by the A’s at home. There were plenty of Jays lounging on the couches, cracking jokes and taking in the Japan vs. Tapei  Little League World Series game. There was one funny exchange after one kid drove in a  run. The first-base coach, one of the young players, was jumping and high fiving the teammate that just got the hit. Troy Glaus to Jays first-base coach Marty Pevey: "Next time somebody gets an RBI single, I want you jumping up and down over there." Pevey: "I’ll do it." So, this trip is off to a nice start — except that my sunglasses broke about an hour ago. Ah, well…

On to today’s pregame:

————————————————————————————————-

Toronto (63-63) at Los Angeles (74-52)
at 10:05 p.m. ET at Angel Stadium

Today’s lineups:

BLUE JAYS
Reed Johnson, LF
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Matt Stairs, RF
Vernon Wells, CF
Frank Thomas, DH
Troy Glaus, 3B
Aaron Hill, 2B
Gregg Zaun, C
Ray Olmedo, SS

PITCHING: RHP Jesse Litsch (4-6, 3.49 ERA)

ANGELS
Reggie Willits, DH
Orlando Cabrera, SS
Vlad Guerrero, RF
Garret Anderson, LF
Gary Matthews Jr., CF
Maicer Izturis, 3B
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Robb Quinlan, 1B
Ryan Budde, C

PITCHING: RHP Ervin Santana (5-11, 5.96 ERA)

NOTES: RF Alex Rios and SS John McDonald were given the day off. For Rios, it marks his first day of rest since May 13. The right fielder has played in 125 of Toronto’s 126 games, making 124 starts. Since the break, Rios has hit .346. … Since Toronto pounded on 15 runs and went 9-for-18 with runners in scoring position on Aug. 8, the Jays have hit .154 (20-130) with RISP. Ouch. Over that 13 games span, Toronto has gone 6-7 with an average of 2.9 runs scored per game. Like GM J.P. Ricciardi, Toronto manager John Gibbons keeps supporting his players and said on Thursday that he didn’t expect much change this winter: "Nobody knows what’s going to take place, but there’s not much room to add guys. We like the way it stacks up, but you never know who’s available. You can’t so ‘No’ to everything."

Should I really still be including the standings? Isn’t reading this getting a little depressing for you Blue Jays fans? Let me know. I have the power to stop.

AL EAST STANDINGS
entering Thursday
1. Boston 76-51 (–)
2. New York 71-56 (5)
3. Toronto 63-63 (12.5)
4. Baltimore 58-67 (17)
5. Tampa Bay 48-78 (27.5)

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Thursday
1. Seattle 71-53 (–)
2. New York 71-56 (1.5)
3. Detroit 68-58 (4)
4. Toronto 63-63 (9)
5. Minnesota 63-63 (9)
6. Oakland 64-64 (9)

TICK, TOCK…Since 1995, the runner-up in the AL Wild Card race has finished with an average of 89 victories. The Blue Jays would need to go 27-9 over their final 36 games to reach 90 wins.

Game #125: A's at Jays pregame

Oakland (62-64) at Toronto (63-61)
at 7:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

Today’s lineups:

ATLETICS
Jeff Davannon, CF
Marco Scutaro, SS
Nick Swisher, RF
Jack Cust, LF
Mike Piazza, C
Dan Johnson, 1B
Mark Ellis, 2B
Jack Hannahan, 3B
Kurt Suzuki, C

PITCHING: RHP Dan Haren (13-4, 2.54 ERA)

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

PITCHING: RHP Dustin McGowan (8-7, 4.14 ERA)

NOTES: Another slow news day here at the Dome. You know that’s the case when the biggest "news" out of the pregame came when Jays manager John Gibbons said the team will need a third catcher as part of the upcoming September call-ups. So, that means either Sal Fasano, who was recently banged up in a collision at the plate, or prospect Robinzon Diaz could get the call. … Outside of that — not much going on. … Gibbons didn’t want to discuss the McGowan pinch running situation more than he had to, saying he didn’t want to provide any more "ammo" for people to use. Interesting. … Some more news on LHP David Purcey. The pitching prospect — out since June with an elbow injury — is slated to take part in the Arizona Fall League, which begins in October. … On this date last season Gibbons chased pitcher Ted Lilly into the tunnel behind Toronto’s dugout, where a fight broke out. Ah, the good ol’ days. I’m leaving on a jet plane tomorrow for the West coast. So, probably no blogging tomorrow.

AL EAST STANDINGS
entering Tuesday
1. Boston 75-50 (–)
2. New York 70-55 (5)
3. Toronto 63-61 (11.5)
4. Baltimore 57-65 (16.5)
5. Tampa Bay 47-77 (27.5)

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Tuesday
1. Seattle 70-52 (–)
2. New York 70-55 (1.5)
3. Detroit 67-57 (4)
4. Toronto 63-61 (8)
5. Minnesota 62-62 (9)

TICK, TOCK…Since 1995, the runner-up in the AL Wild Card race has finished with an average of 89 victories. The Blue Jays would need to go 27-11 over their final 38 games to reach 90 wins.

Who's on Second?

No, your television wasn’t malfunctioning — that was Blue Jays pitcher Dustin McGowan donning a helmet and jogging out to second base as a pinch runner in the eighth inning on Monday night. Now, the decision to use McGowan in that situation wasn’t completely asinine, but to use the next day’s starter as a pinch runner did seem a little strange.

"He’s our fastest runner," said Toronto manager John Gibbons, who was hardly in the mood to break down the decision after Toronto dropped a 6-4 decision to Oakland.

Bare with me here on the logic, though.

A’s reliever Andrew Brown is tanking it, while Oakland is clinging to a 6-2 lead in the eighth. Brown then gives up a double to Frank Thomas to cut the lead to 6-3. With two outs, Toronto needs runs and there’s no way Thomas makes it home on a base hit. So, the Jays need a pinch runner.

On the bench is A. Aaron Hill, B. Matt Stairs, C. Gregg Zaun, and D. Ray Olmedo. With Brown slipping fast, and lefty Alan Embree warming in the bullpen, Gibbons knows he’s probably going to want to pinch hit for left-handed hitting Russ Adams. Another hit probably means the showers for Brown and an entrance for Embree.

If that’s the case, Gibbons will want to use the right-handed hittiner Hill, who can then replace Adams at second base — it’s the natural choice. Whether or not Hill comes through, the A’s are then likely to turn to right-handed closer Huston Street, which means Gibbons will want to save his lefty bats — Zaun and Stairs — as pinch hitters to replace righties Thigpen and McDonald, who are up after Hill.

So, that leaves Olmedo, right? Well, if you insert Olmedo as the pinch runner, he becomes the DH. That means, when you pinch hit Stairs for McDonald, you would need to shift Olmedo to shortstop. If that happens, Toronto would lose the DH and its pitcher would be forced to bat if the game extends into extra innings.

That’s where McGowan comes in.

Considering starter Shaun Marcum only lasted three innings, the Jays need all the relievers they can get. So, no one’s going to be making the jog from the bullpen to replace Thomas at second. And, you’re sure as heck not going to see either Roy Halladay or A.J. Burnett, and all their millions of dollars in multi-year deals, out there on the basepaths. Unfortunately, that leaves McGowan.

The play worked. McGowan ran out there and Troy Glaus doubled him home to cut the score to 6-4 — and Thomas would’ve had to stop at third base. Of course, Hill then popped out against Embree, and Zaun and Stairs were quickly set down by Street in a scoreless ninth. Game over.

It made some sense, but it certainly was risky. I’m not saying I agreed with the move — I didn’t — but I can see the sort of logic that led to the decision. It just would’ve been terrible had Glaus’ double been the type that led to a collision at the plate involving McGowan, when he’s supposed to start on Tuesday.

Anyway…crisis averted.

And, for what it’s worth, where’s the offense? Sure, Joe Blanton dominated for the A’s, but the disappearing act by Toronto’s bats has hindered this team all season. It would’ve been a nice story to see the offense finally helped out the pitching staff, when it’s been the other way around all year.

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