August 2007

Game #124: A's at Jays pregame

There’s a very "cool" Web site that uses a pile of data to calculate every team’s chance of making the playoffs, taking into consideration the clubs’ performance this season and in the past. As of right now, the Blue Jays have a sickly 0.8 percent chance of playing baseball in October. Sorry, guys. According to the site, Toronto has just a 0.7 percent chance of capturing the Wild Card. On the site, you can click on Toronto to see more in-depth data. Is there any good news? Well, the Jays DID have a 58.7 percent shot at making the playoffs…..on April 9. Ah, the good ol’ days. Here’s today’s pregame:

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Oakland (61-64) at Toronto (63-60)
at 7:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

Today’s lineups:

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

PITCHING: RHP Joe Blanton (10-8, 3.94 ERA)

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

PITCHING: RHP Shaun Marcum (10-4, 3.31 ERA)

NOTES: The dog days of summer are certainly upon us. The recent pregame scrums with the manager have provided ample evidence. The news continues to be slow and the pregame discussions have dwindled down to standing around and offering a question here and there. I guess that’s what happens when a team’s hopes of contending are also disappearing with each day. But, I digress. … The big news today at Jays camp was Adams’ start at second base. As expected, Jays skipper John Gibbons gave second baseman Aaron Hill the rare day off. The last time Hill started a game on the bench was on July 8, when Howie Clark manned second. In fact, Hill has made 121 starts this year and he’s appeared in 122 of Toronto’s 123 games. The July 8 game, when Hill had a slight knee injury, was his only complete day off. … Could Hill’s heavy workload be wearing on him? The sure-handed second-sacker has made three errors in his past seven games. Hill committed eight errors in the previous 116. … The question of how Gibbons’ has been dictating the starts of Johnson and Matt Stairs also came up. Gibbons said it’s not a strict platoon situation. He’s simply weighing each match up each game and he wants to continue to get Stairs steady at-bats.

AL EAST STANDINGS
entering Monday
1. Boston 74-50 (–)
2. New York 70-54 (4)
3. Toronto 63-60 (10.5)
4. Baltimore 57-65 (16)
5. Tampa Bay 47-76 (26.5)

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Monday
1. Seattle 69-52 (–)
2. New York 70-54 (0.5)
3. Detroit 67-57 (3.5)
4. Toronto 63-60 (7)
5. Minnesota 62-61 (8)

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 27-12 over their final 39 games to reach 90 wins.

NEW HAMPSHIRE BEWARE: From today’s New York Post’s Weird But True briefs — "Rhode Island pet owners are on alert now that nasty "fisher cats" have reappeared in the state after an absence of 200 years. The creatures, part of the weasel family, can weigh as much as 12 pounds. They recently attacked two dogs in West Greenwich." … No word yet if any of Toronto’s Double-A players are involved

Game #123: O's at Jays pregame

Baltimore (57-64) at Toronto (62-60)
at 1:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

Today’s lineups:

ORIOLES
Brian Roberts, 2B
Tike Redman, CF
Nick Markakis, RF
Miguel Tejada, SS
Kevin Millar, 1B
Aubrey Huff, DH
Melvin Mora, 3B
Ramon Hernandez, C
Jay Payton, LF

PITCHING: RHP Jeremy Guthrie (7-4, 3.50 ERA)

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
John McDonald, SS

PITCHING: RHP Roy Halladay (14-5, 3.99 ERA)

NOTES: Not much happening pregame today. Toronto manager John Gibbons said it was simply a day off for LF Reed Johnson, because he wants to continue getting Stairs steady at-bats. Gibbons added that Hill may receive the day off on Monday with INF Russ Adams getting the start at second. … The Blue Jays have made nine errors in their past six games.

AL EAST STANDINGS
entering Sunday
1. Boston 74-49 (–)
2. New York 69-54 (5)
3. Toronto 62-60 (11.5)
4. Baltimore 57-64 (16)
5. Tampa Bay 46-76 (27.5)

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Sunday
1. Seattle 68-52 (–)
2. New York 69-54 (0.5)
3. Detroit 67-56 (2.5)
4. Toronto 62-60 (7)
5. Minnesota 61-61 (8)

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 28-12 over their final 40 games to reach 90 wins.

Game #122: O's at Jays pregame

Baltimore (56-64) at Toronto (62-59)
at 1:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

Today’s lineups:

ORIOLES
Brian Roberts, 2B
Corey Patterson, CF
Nick Markakis, RF
Miguel Tejada, SS
Aubrey Huff, 1B
Melvin Mora, 3B
J.R. House, DH
Paul Bako, C
Tike Redman, LF

PITCHING: RHP Steve Trachsel (5-7, 4.85 ERA)

BLUE JAYS
Reed Johnson, LF
Russ Adams, 3B
Alex Rios, CF
Frank Thomas, DH
Matt Stairs, RF
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Aaron Hill, 2B
Gregg Zaun, C
John McDonald, SS

PITCHING: RHP Jesse Litsch (4-5, 3.54 ERA)

NOTES: Toronto manager John Gibbons said CF Vernon Wells and 3B Troy Glaus were simply given the day off on Saturday. … Adams was making his first appearance since being recalled on Thursday, and his first-ever big-league appearance at third base. … Rios has hit .393 in August, which is the sixth-highest average in the AL for the month. … Toronto is one win shy of moving to four games over .500 for the first time this season.

AL EAST STANDINGS
entering Saturday
1. Boston 73-49 (–)
2. New York 68-54 (5)
3. Toronto 62-59 (10.5)
4. Baltimore 56-64 (16)
5. Tampa Bay 46-75 (26.5)

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Saturday
1. Seattle 67-52 (–)
2. New York 68-54 (0.5)
3. Detroit 67-55 (1.5)
4. Toronto 62-59 (6)
5. Minnesota 61-60 (7)

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 28-13 over their final 41 games to reach 90 wins.

Game #121: O's ay Jays pregame

Baltimore (56-63) at Toronto (61-59)
at 7:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

Today’s lineups:

ORIOLES
Brian Roberts, 2B
Corey Patterson, CF
Nick Markakis, RF
Miguel Tejada, SS
Kevin Millar, 1B
Aubrey Huff, DH
Melvin Mora, 3B
Ramon Hernandez, C
Jay Payton, LF

PITCHING: LHP Garrett Olson (1-1, 4.60 ERA)

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

PITCHING: RHP A.J. Burnett (6-6, 4.09 ERA)

NOTES: INF Russ Adams was back at the Rogers Centre, where he once took the field as Toronto’s starting shortstop. Now? Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi’s first-ever draft pick is the new utility man — only after Jason Smith, Ryan Roberts, Howie Clark, Royce Clayton and Hector Luna didn’t work out. Jays manager John Gibbons said Adams can be used to spell Hill at second or Glaus at third. Gibbons did say that we won’t be seeing Hill at short and Adams at second at all. At Triple-A, Adams was hitting .262 with 11 homers and 54 RBIs in 113 games. He made 102 starts at second, five at third and one at short and committed 18 errors along the way. … Other than the triumphant return of Adams, the Jays are waiting for the triumphant return of the long ball. Toronto hasn’t homered in 47 innings and has a Major League-worst four homers this month. … At least those doubles keep coming — at least one in 23 straight games to be exact. .. The Jays have also now notched 66 quality starts, which is one more than in all of last season.

AL EAST STANDINGS
entering Friday
1. Boston 72-48 (–)
2. New York 67-54 (5.5)
3. Toronto 61-59 (11)
4. Baltimore 56-63 (15.5)
5. Tampa Bay 46-74 (26)

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Friday
1. Seattle 66-52 (–)
2. New York 67-54 (0.5)
3. Cleveland 66-54 (1)
4. Toronto 61-59 (6)
5. Minnesota 60-60 (7)
6. Oakland 60-62 (8)

THE CLOCK IS TICKING…Over the past 10 seasons, the AL Wild Card winner has finished with an average of 95.7 victories. The Blue Jays would need to go 34-8 over their final 42 games to reach 95 wins.

The Return of Russ

After tonight’s 4-3 loss to the Angels, the Jays announced that they have recalled infielder Russ Adams (remember him?) from Triple-A Syracuse. To make room on the roster, Toronto optioned Hector Luna (0-for-9 since being claimed off waivers from the Indians) to Triple-A.

Toronto manager John Gibbons said after the game that Adams will help because he can provide a left-handed bat off the bench. He can also provide some depth at second base and occasionally third, which he’s manned a few times this year in the Minors. On Thursday, Adams played second and third for the Chiefs. Adams has hit .262 with 11 homers and 54 RBIs in 113 games.

Long Live the King

Prior to tonight’s game, the Rogers Centre’s sound system pumped out a few Elvis tunes in recognition of the 30th anniversary of the music legend’s passing. It was eerily fitting that the Angels would be visiting Toronto tonight, too.

On August 16, 1977, when Elvis died, the California Angels were playing the Blue Jays at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto. Current Jays radio man Alan Ashby and Jays bench coach Ernie Whitt — both catchers for Toronto at the time — each played in the game against the Halos. Jays TV man and former Blue Jay Rance Mulliniks started at short for the Angels in the game.

Perhaps the strangest coincidence doesn’t involve one of the players in that game 30 years ago. Mike Reilly, who was a rookie umpire during the ’77 season, worked that California-Toronto game at the Ex. Reilly was the second base ump for tonight’s game at the Rogers Centre. But, no Elvis sightings yet.

Game #120: Angels at Jays pregame

Los Angeles (69-49) at Toronto (61-58)
at 7:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

Today’s lineups:

ANGELS
Chone Figgins, 3B
Orlando Cabrera, SS
Vlad Guerrero, RF
Garret Anderson, DH
Gary Matthews Jr., CF
Casey Kotchman, 1B
Maicer Izturis, 2B
Jeff Mathis, C
Reggie Willits, LF

PITCHING: RHP Kelvim Escobar (12-6, 2.74 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
Ray Olmedo, SS

PITCHING: RHP Dustin McGowan (8-6, 4.12 ERA)

NOTES: Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi said on Thursday that the Jays are leaning toward having LHP Gustavo Chacin undergo exploratory surgery on his throwing shoulder, which would effectively end the pitcher’s season. Chacin has been out since late April, and Ricciardi said the only throwing he might be doing from here on out is rehab work. Chacin would undergo surgery before the end of the year, and that would hopefully have him ready by Spring Training. … Toronto has only hit four homers in August — the lowest total in baseball. … The Jays have 39 doubles in August (second in baseball) and 258 on the year (first in the AL). Toronto also is riding a streak of 22 games with at least one double.

AL EAST STANDINGS
entering Thursday
1. Boston 72-48 (–)
2. New York 67-53 (5)
3. Toronto 61-58 (10.5)
4. Baltimore 56-63 (15.5)
5. Tampa Bay 46-74 (26)

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Thursday
t-1. Seattle 66-52 (–)
t-1. New York 67-53 (–)
t-3. Cleveland 66-54 (1)
t-3. Detroit 66-54 (1)
5. Toronto 61-58 (5.5)
6. Minnesota 60-60 (7)
7. Oakland 59-62 (8.5)

Game #119: Angels at Jays pregame

Los Angeles (69-48) at Toronto (60-58)
at 7:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

Today’s lineups:

ANGELS
Chone Figgins, 3B
Orlando Cabrera, SS
Vlad Guerrero, DH
Garret Anderson, LF
Gary Matthews Jr., CF
Casey Kotchman, 1B
Maicer Izturis, 2B
Jeff Mathis, C
Reggie Willits, RF

PITCHING: RHP Dustin Moseley (4-1, 4.93 ERA)

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
John McDonald, SS

PITCHING: RHP Shaun Marcum (9-4, 3.43 ERA)

NOTES: Glaus was back in the lineup after missing two games with a sore left foot. On Tuesday, the third baseman was in L.A. visiting a foot specialist to rule out any structural damage in his left ankle, which has been bothering him for the past few days. The tests came back clean, and Glaus said on Wednesday that the root of the foot problem is a bone spur, which was the original explanation given by manager John Gibbons in April. Glaus said he has been suffering from a case of plantar fasciitis and there isn’t any surgery that can alleviate the issue this offseason. Rest is the only cure. … Gibbons wanted to put Stairs in the lineup against Moseley and opted to give LF Reed Johnson the day off from starting. Instead of shuffling the entire order, Gibbons put Stairs back in the leadoff spot.

AL EAST STANDINGS
entering Wednesday
1. Boston 72-47 (–)
2. New York 67-52 (5)
3. Toronto 60-58 (11.5)
4. Baltimore 55-63 (16.5)
5. Tampa Bay 45-74 (27)

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Wednesday
1. Seattle 66-51 (–)
2. New York 67-52 (–)
3. Cleveland 65-54 (2)
4. Toronto 60-58 (6.5)
6. Minnesota 59-60 (8)

Vintage Doc

The first time I ever watched Roy Halladay pitch live was when I was in college at Michigan State. For one of my specialized journalism classes, we actually took a "field trip" to Comerica Park to take in a ballgame, talk to experienced reporters and do a mock interview setting with a couple of Tigers players. The real fun began when all that class stuff was out of the way before the game.

During that game on September 17, 2003, I sat about two or three rows behind home plate and watched Halladay simply baffle Detroit’s hitters. I can still visualize that up-close look at the drastic break on his curve and sharp bite on his cutter and two-seamer. His line that day: 9 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 7 K. Well, on Tuesday night here, it was classic Halladay once again.

The Angels just looked helpless at the plate tonight. Sure, they squeezed out five hits — one passed the glove of a diving Aaron Hill, another on a bunt, one more of the infield variety, and two legit hits to the outfield. Other than that, Halladay was masterful: 13 outs via grounder, including 10 between the fourth and ninth. He faced 30 batters and 19 had their at-bats come to a close with three pitches or fewer — four on the first pitch, 10 on the second and five on the third.

After the first inning, only one baserunner advanced to second base — and that was Chone Figgins on defensive indifference in the ninth. The walk to lead off the second was erased on a double play. A leadoff single in the sixth was subsequently canceled out on a fielder’s choice and then a 5-4-3 double play. That inning took a ******** five pitches. There was a single in the eighth, but the runner was stranded and ditto for Figgins at second in the final frame.

All in all, Halladay needed just 99 pitches to turn in his fifth complete game. That’s a big league-best five CGs from a guy who missed three weeks after having his appendix removed in May. At home, Halladay is now 10-1 this season. He only struck out two, but with how early the Halos were swinging, strikeouts weren’t really in the cards.

This, and the 10-inning pitcher’s duel with Detroit’s Jeremy Bonderman might be the two best outings of the year for Halladay. The 1:50 gem that he and Chicago’s Mark Buehrle spun in Halladay’s first start off the DL was pretty amazing, too. Geez, not to mention when those two faced off again in Chicago in July.

Needless to say, Halladay has been a joy to cover as a reporter. You can [almost] always bank on it being a quick game. Tonight, it took all of 1 hour and 58 minutes for the good doctor to dispose of the Angels. Then again, it took about half that amount of time for him to finish with his postgame routine before he came out to talk to the media, but I digress…

Where would this team be without Halladay? It’s a blessing for the Jays that he re-upped through 2010, when he could’ve easily opted to test the open market. Can you imagine what kind of cash teams would throw down for Halladay in the current market for pitching? Kind of makes the $12.8 million he’s being paid this year seem like a bargain, doesn’t it?

Game #118: Angels at Jays pregame

Los Angeles (69-47) at Toronto (59-58)
at 7:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

Today’s lineups:

ANGELS
Chone Figgins, 3B
Reggie Willits, DH
Vladimir Guerrero, RF
Garret Anderson, LF
Gary Matthews Jr., CF
Casey Kotchman, 1B
Maicer Izturis, 2B
Jeff Mathis, C
Erick Aybar, SS

PITCHING: LHP Joe Saunders (6-0, 3.46 ERA)

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

PITCHING: RHP Roy Halladay (13-5, 4.17 ERA)

GLAUS OUT AGAIN: 3B Troy Glaus was out of the lineup for the second straight day, but it isn’t just his left heel that’s causing the latest problem. For the last few days, Glaus has been bothered by a wonky left ankle, and he was getting the foot examined by a doctor on Tuesday. It’s not clear whether or not a DL stint is in Glaus’ future, but maybe something can be done in the offseason. Glaus has been troubled on and off all season by a bone spur in his left heel as well.

Said GM J.P. Ricciardi: "The doctors are looking at his ankle and we’ll have a better idea of what can be done and what can’t be done. It might be a surgery in the off-season, just to clear it out."

OTHER TIDBITS: Since the All-Star break, Toronto has gone 7-11 on the road, averaging 2.7 runs per game. At home since the break, the Jays have gone 9-3 with an average of 6.7 runs per game. … The Angels come to the Rogers Centre ranked first in the American League with 107 stolen bases. Toronto ranked last in the league with a caught-stealing percentage of roughly 13. Advantage: Angels. … The Blue Jays rank last in the AL with a .226 batting average with runners on scoring position and two outs. To put that in perspective, the Tigers rank first with a .298 mark. … Since July 16, when he was batting .296, the injured Glaus has hit just .140 (12-for-86). Toronto manager John Gibbons wasn’t ready to blame the foot injury. … Angels reliever Justin Speier enjoyed a warm welcome from his former teammates. During Gibbons’ pregame meeting with the media, Speier ran into the dugout, mimicked holding out a microphone and asked Gibby: "So, what do you think of your new setup man Casey Janssen?"

AL EAST STANDINGS
entering Tuesday
1. Boston 71-47 (–)
2. New York 67-51 (4)
3. Toronto 59-58 (11.5)
4. Baltimore 54-63 (16.5)
5. Tampa Bay 45-73 (26)

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Tuesday
1. Seattle 66-50 (–)
2. New York 67-51 (–)
3. Cleveland 65-53 (2)
4. Detroit 65-53 (2)
5. Toronto 59-58 (7.5)
6. Minnesota 58-60 (9)

SIDEBAR: After rewatching the Bourne Identity and the Bourne Surpemacy back-to-back on Sunday night, I ventured out and caught a matinee of the Bourne Ultimatum on Monday. I thought the new movie was pretty sweet, but I’ve got to say that Supremacy, to me, is the best in the trilogy. I still thought the camera moved a little too much during some of the action scenes in Ultimatum, and while the car chase scene in New York in the new movie was outstanding, it felt more like a demolition derby than a pure chase. Anyway, the movie was great, and the trilogy ranks up there as one of the best three-part series out there, if you ask me. Of course, if you ask me, you’d be asking a big-time action movie fan. –JB

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