September 2007

Marcum, Thomas exit with knee injuries

Blue Jays starter Shaun Marcum exited Saturday’s contest in New York after three innings due to a sore right knee. It wasn’t clear when the young pitcher hurt himself, but he appeared to come up lame somewhat after a rundown between third base and home plate in the second inning.

Toronto already pondered pushing Marcum’s latest start back because he’s been feeling some fatigue lately. So, if the knee injury is in any way a concern, this may have been Marcum’s final outing of 2007. If it was, he wrapped up quite the campaign for the Jays, going 11-4 with a 3.91 ERA as a starter.

Hmmmm…Frank Thomas just came out of the game after singling in the fifth inning. No info on what he may or may not have done. Newbie John-Ford Griffin entered as a pinch runner. That’s usually saved for later on, so Thomas may have hurt himself running. Jays just announced Thomas also left with a sore right knee.

In the seventh now, and Scott Downs just left a half-inning ago. This is getting redundant and a tad ridiculous. UPDATE: Jays just announced that Downs left with a strained back.

I’ll update with more information after the game.

Game#154: Blue Bombers at Bronx Bombers

So, I walk off the elevator and step into the tunnel here at The Stadium this morning and a line of Blue Jays were walking in at the same time. As we all made our way to the clubhouse, Aaron Hill calls out, "Jordan…" and I turn to see an obviously tired second baseman dragging his feet and practically sleepwalking his way to work "…why are you here soo early?" I replied with a simple, "I don’t know." Now, I’m regretting my early arrival to get some extra work done even more, considering there’s a tarp on the diamond and God is sending a heavy misting rain down on the Bronx. Anyway, off to the pregame…

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Toronto (78-75) at New York (88-65)
at 1:05 p.m. ET (weather premitting) at Yankee Stadium

Today’s lineups:

BLUE JAYS
Reed Johnson, RF
Matt Stairs, 1B
Alex Rios, CF
Frank Thomas, DH
Aaron Hill, 2B
Russ Adams, 3B
Adam Lind, LF
Curtis Thigpen, C
Ray Olmedo, SS

PITCHING: RHP Shaun Marcum (12-6, 4.15 ERA)

YANKEES
Melky Cabrera, CF
Derek Jeter, SS
Bobby Abreu, RF
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Hideki Matsui, LF
Jorge Posada, C
Jason Giambi, DH
Robinson Cano, 2B
Doug Mientkiewicz, 1B

PITCHING: RHP Phil Hughes (4-3, 4.75 ERA)

NOTES: Toronto purchased the contract of OF John-Ford Griffin on Saturday to add some more outfield depth with CF Vernon Wells out. Wells (left shoulder) was placed on the 60-day DL to clear room for JFG on the 40-man roster. … SS John McDonald missed his fourth game with what he is now describing as a lower abdominal strain, but he’s expected to be back in the lineup on Sunday. … 1B Lyle Overbay said that he will have surgery to remove four pins from his hand on Tuesday in Baltimore. Previously, the club only indicated the operation would take place some time during the Jays’ series against the O’s. … C Sal Fasano is away from the team to be with his wife, who is expecting a baby boy any day now. Toronto manager John Gibbons wasn’t sure if Fasano would be returning to the team with only nine games left. … Thomas is going to be a part of TBS’s playoff TV team. He’ll be a part of a panel that also includes Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., and Thomas said he’s slated to provide analysis through the LCS.

BREAKING EVEN…Toronto needs to post a 4-5 record over its final nine games to finish the season above .500.

A DAY AT THE RACES:

AL EAST
entering Saturday
1. Boston 91-63 (–)
2. New York 88-65 (2.5)

AL WILD CARD
entering Saturday
1. New York 88-65 (–)
2. Detroit 84-70 (4.5)

AL BEST RECORD
entering Saturday
1. Cleveland 91-62 (–)
2. Los Angeles 91-63 (0.5)
2. Boston 91-63 (0.5)
4. New York 88-65 (3)

Game #153: Jays at Yanks pregame

Toronto (77-75) at New York (88-64)
at 7:05 p.m. ET at Yankee Stadium

Today’s lineups:

BLUE JAYS
Reed Johnson, RF
Matt Stairs, 1B
Alex Rios, RF
Frank Thomas, DH
Aaron Hill, 2B
Russ Adams, 3B
Gregg Zaun, C
Adam Lind, LF
Ray Olmedo, SS

PITCHING: RHP Roy Haladay (15-7, 3.82 ERA)

YANKEES
Johnny Damon, LF
Derek Jeter, SS
Bobby Abreu, RF
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Hideki Matsui, DH
Jorge Posada, C
Robinson Cano, 2B
Doug Mientkiewicz, 1B
Melky Cabrera, CF

PITCHING: RHP Chien-Ming Wang (18-7, 3.82 ERA)

NOTES: Toronto called up INF Joe Inglett to have an extra man on the bench. He can help out if needed around the infield and in the outfield. The Jays could use an additional player, considering 1B Lyle Overbay isn’t starting and 3B Troy Glaus and CF Vernon Wells have been shelved for the year. Inglett was claimed off waivers from the Indians on Sept. 14. … SS John McDonald is still out with a sore left hip flexor.

BREAKING EVEN…Toronto needs to post a 5-5 record over its final 10 games to finish the season above .500.

A DAY AT THE RACES:

AL EAST
entering Friday
1. Boston 90-63 (–)
2. New York 88-64 (1.5)

AL WILD CARD
entering Friday
1. New York 88-64 (–)
2. Detroit 83-70 (5.5)

AL BEST RECORD
entering Friday
1. Los Angeles 91-62 (–)
2. Cleveland 90-62 (0.5)
3. Boston 90-63 (1)
4. New York 88-64 (2.5)

Russ Adams: Red Sox Killer

I can’t say I was all that surprised to see ol’ Russell come out on top in the eighth inning against Jonathan Papelbon here tonight. If you take a little stroll down memory lane, you’ll recall that it was Adams who ended the scoreless streak Pap carried into May last season.

The only downer on Wednesday night was the fact that John McDonald didn’t enter the game. He won’t be able to qualify for the fielding percentage title this year now, and he would’ve been tied for the MLB lead had he appeared in the final 11 games. I thought for sure he’d come in in the ninth with Toronto up, 6-1.

Even so, what a series for the Blue Jays, huh? A little late, but still quite the effort by the pitching staff over the past three days to sweep Boston. Dustin McGowan’s slider was unbelievable on Monday, A.J. Burnett’s curve was just plain sick on Tuesday and on Wednesday Litsch found that changeup he’s been missing. Combined, that trio went 3-0 with a 1.45 ERA.

I gotta say, I like the way Toronto’s rotation is stacking up. With Roy Halladay at the top, Burnett and McGowan both being solid No. 2 guys and Shaun Marcum a sound option behind them, that’s a tough group to match up against. I’m sure Toronto would take its chances with a Halladay-Burnett-McGowan lineup in a playoff series. Of course, there’s that whole reaching the playoffs thing…

The pitching should be fine next year, but maybe having us scribes write that is the kiss of death. Along with the team, it was us who — hey, understandably at the time — were pumping up the Jays offense going into this year. I’m not completely sold that this O can return to its 2006 form. I’ll believe it when I see it.  Injuries certainly played a role, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if the wounded can all rebound in ’08.

To finish above .500, the Jays need to go just 5-5 down the stretch. The Yankees are rolling right now, so heading to the Bronx for a four-game set will be tough. Honestly, escaping with a split would be a success. Toronto should take two of three in Baltimore, and you would hope two of three against the Rays, so that’d be a 6-4 finish.

Would 83 wins make this season a success under the circumstances?

I’ll be flying out to New York tomorrow and I’ll be in Baltimore after that. I may even be bringing some postseason coverage to the blog come October. Stay tuned…

Game #152: Red Sox at Blue Jays pregame

The Blue Jays may have to increase the budget for baseballs next season. Some of their personnel are taking to hitting a fair number of balls into the upper regions of the Rogers Centre lately. Hours before game time tonight, third base coach Brian Butterfield stood behind home plate and yelled "Tabby!" Butter then used his fungo bat to try to launch a ball up to Pat Tabler in the TV booth in the fourth deck.

After a handful of misses fell short — where balls crashed off the facing and dropped back to the field or into the stands — one of the Boston writers shouted, "Hey Butter! You need to hit the weight room!" Butter promptly turned and drilled a line drive into the pressbox, sending the writers into a frenzy to protect their computers. Nice. Butter went on to send a baseball into the GM’s box, and another into the FAN590 booth, where Jerry Howarth was egging him on.

This came a few days after Matt Stairs put on quite the show before Toronto’s game against the Yankees on Friday. A few kids in Sightlines restaurant in center field — the area above Windows restaurant — were yelling at Stairs, who was hitting balls off a tee near home plate, to hit one their way. Stairs took his tee out near the mound and began launching ball after ball toward the kids. He sent baseballs ricocheting off Windows and into the stands and even sent one bouncing about halfway up the jumbotron. Stairs finally got one in the restaurant, but it landed about 20 feet to the left of the kids, who then saw the ball bounce back out to the field. Ah, well. "A" for effort. ~JB

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Boston (90-62) at Toronto (76-75)
at 7:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

Today’s lineups:

RED SOX
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Lowell, 3B
J.D. Drew, RF
Jason Varirek, C
Eric Hinske, 1B
Bobby Kielty, LF
Julio Lugo, SS

PITCHING: RHP Clay Buchholz (3-0, 1.50 ERA)

BLUE JAYS
Vernon Wells, CF
Matt Stairs, 1B
Alex Rios, RF
Frank Thomas, DH
Aaron Hill, 2B
Gregg Zaun, C
Adam Lind, LF
Russ Adams, 3B
Ray Olmedo, SS

PITCHING: RHP Jesse Litsch (5-9, 4.37 ERA)

NOTES: Toronto shortstop John McDonald insists that he didn’t ask for these last two games off because his new $3.8 million contract has gotten to his head. All kidding aside, McDonald is suffering from a hip flexor that is causing some discomfort when he runs. It doesn’t hurt when he hits or fields, so McDonald is available off the bench. Jays manager John Gibbons said Johnny Mac could get into the game on Wednesday. That’d be good news, considering Mac needs to appear in each of the last 11 games to qualify for the fielding precentage title at his position. Currently, L.A.’s Orlando Cabrera leads qualified American League shortstops with a .982 fielding percentage. McDonald needs to reach 108 games to have his .986 mark qualify. That would also tie Colorado’s Troy Tulowitski for the highest mark in the big leagues.

BREAKING EVEN…Toronto needs to post a 6-5 record over its final 11 games to finish the season above .500.

A DAY AT THE RACES:

AL EAST
entering Wednesday
1. Boston 90-62 (–)
2. New York 87-64 (2.5)

AL WILD CARD
entering Wednesday
1. New York 87-64 (–)
2. Detroit 83-69 (4.5)

AL BEST RECORD
entering Wednesday
1. Boston 90-62 (–)
2. Cleveland 89-62 (0.5)
2. Los Angeles 89-62 (0.5)
4. New York 87-64 (2.5)

Game #151: Red Sox at Blue Jays pregame

Boston (90-61) at Toronto (75-75)
at 7:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

Today’s lineups:

RED SOX
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Lowell, 3B
J.D. Drew, RF
Eric Hinske, 1B
Jason Varirek, C
Brandon Moss, LF
Julio Lugo, SS

PITCHING: LHP Jon Lester (4-0, 4.86 ERA)

BLUE JAYS
Vernon Wells, CF
Reed Johnson, LF
Alex Rios, RF
Frank Thomas, DH
Aaron Hill, 2B
Matt Stairs, 1B
Gregg Zaun, C
Hector Luna, 3B
Ray Olmedo, SS

PITCHING: RHP A.J. Burnett (8-7, 3.42 ERA)

NOTES: Toronto manager John Gibbons said that LHP Scott Downs’ right foot felt a little better on Tuesday, but the reliever might not be available out of the bullpen. Downs is listed as day-to-day. … Closer B.J. Ryan threw from 45 feet in the outfield prior to Monday’s game. He’ll up the distance to 120 feet over the next month or so before backing off of his throwing program for roughly a month after that. All indications are that he’ll be ready to go by Spring Training. … Stairs was slated to appear in his 1,532nd game, moving the native of New Brunswick into sole possession of second place on the all-time games played list for Canadian-born ballplayers.

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Tuesday
1. New York 86-64 (–)
2. Detroit 83-68 (3.5)
3. Seattle 79-70 (6.5)
4. Toronto 75-75 (11)

BREAKING EVEN…Toronto needs to post a 7-5 record over its final 12 games to finish the season above .500.

Game #150: Red Sox at Blue Jays pregame

Boston (90-60) at Toronto (74-75)
at 7:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

Today’s lineups:

RED SOX
Jacoby Ellsbury, LF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Lowell, 3B
J.D. Drew, RF
Eric Hinske, 1B
Coco Crisp, CF
Alex Cora, SS
Kevin Cash, C

PITCHING: RHP Tim Wakefield (16-10, 4.68 ERA)

BLUE JAYS
Vernon Wells, CF
Matt Stairs, 1B
Alex Rios, RF
Frank Thomas, DH
Aaron Hill, 2B
Gregg Zaun, C
Adam Lind, LF
Russ Adams, 3B
John McDonald, SS

PITCHING: RHP Dustin McGowan (10-9, 4.01 ERA)

NOTES: 1B Lyle Overbay is scheduled to have the pins in his right hand removed when the team heads to Baltimore. Until then, he will only be used as a late-inning defensive replacement and a pinch hitter only if absolutely necessary. Overbay’s hand has been bothering him for the last month and a half and doctors feel removing the pins can help his recovery from the fracture he suffered back in June. … 3B Troy Glaus successfully underwent surgery on his left foot on Monday and should be ready by Spring Training. … Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi said LHP Scott Downs is battling gout in his foot. He went to have the foot examined on Monday and Toronto will know more about his availability for the remainder of the season later. … CL B.J. Ryan was expected to be in Toronto on Monday and he’s scheduled to play catch from 40 feet in front of the team’s medical staff. The Jays want to film Ryan throwing, so they can study the progress he’s making. Toronto also hopes Ryan will be ready by the spring.

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Monday
1. New York 85-64 (–)
2. Detroit 83-67 (2.5)
3. Seattle 78-70 (5.5)
4. Toronto 74-75 (11)

BREAKING EVEN…Toronto needs to post a 8-5 record over its final 13 games to finish the season above .500.

Game #149: O's at Jays pregame

Baltimore (63-84) at Toronto (74-74)
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: LHP Kurt Birkins (1-1, 7.27 ERA)

BLUE JAYS
Reed Johnson, RF
Matt Stairs, 1B
Alex Rios, CF
Frank Thomas, DH
Aaron Hill, 2B
Adam Lind, LF
Russ Adams, 3B
Curtis Thigpen, C
John McDonald, SS

PITCHING: RHP Shaun Marcum (12-6, 4.11 ERA)

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Sunday
1. New York 84-64 (–)
2. Detroit 82-67 (2.5)
3. Seattle 78-69 (5.5)
4. Toronto 74-74 (10)

BREAKING EVEN…Toronto needs to post a 8-6 record over its final 14 games to finish the season above .500.

Game #148: O's at Jays pregame

Baltimore (63-83) at Toronto (73-74)
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
Aubrey Huff, 1B
Kevin Millar, DH
Scott Moore, 3B
J.R. House, C
Freddie Bynum, LF

PITCHING: LHP Kurt Birkins (1-1, 7.27 ERA)

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

PITCHING: RHP Roy Halladay (14-7, 3.91 ERA)

NOTES: Matt Stairs offered his explanation for waiting until after the season to discuss a new deal with the Jays. He wants to see what kind of playing time he’d be in stor for with Johnson still in the fold: "I feel when I’m in the lineup we have a good chance of winning each ballgame. It’s something where, are they going to plan on platooning us? There’s obviously a lot of questions that need to be answered. Is it going to come back to where I’m going to a 100 at-bat guy?" Stairs said his first choice is Toronto, but he’s obviously shown what he can still do with a solid number of at-bats. If he’s going to simply be a bench guy again with everyone healthy, Stairs may opt to explore his options elsewhere. … Don’t look now, but the Jays have officially been eliminated from the AL East division race. … Class A Auburn captured the New York-Penn League title on Friday.

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Saturday
1. New York 84-63 (–)
2. Detroit 81-67 (3.5)
3. Seattle 78-68 (5.5)
4. Toronto 73-74 (11)

BREAKING EVEN…Toronto needs to post a 9-6 record over its final 15 games to finish the season above .500.

Game #147: O's at Jays pregame

Baltimore (62-83) at Toronto (73-73)
at 7:07 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
Ramon Hernandez, C
Scott Moore, 3B
Jay Payton, LF

PITCHING: LHP Brian Burres (5-5, 5.85 ERA)

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

PITCHING: RHP Jesse Litsch (5-8, 4.11 ERA)

NOTES: Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said that the representatives’ for Matt Stairs have indicated that they want to wait until after the season to discuss a new contract for the 39-year-old. … Ricciardi also said that manager John Gibbons’ job is safe going into next season. Toronto’s GM wouldn’t say as much about the coaching staff, though. He said that an announcement about the staff will come "very soon" after the season ends. … Gibbons said that Russ Adams and Hector Luna will likely platoon at third base with Troy Glaus out for the rest of the year. … A team source confirmed a report on SI.com that indicated that Blue Jays director of player personnel Tony Lacava has interviewed for the Pirates’ open GM job. Ricciardi declined comment.

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Friday
1. New York 83-63 (–)
2. Detroit 80-67 (3.5)
3. Seattle 77-68 (5.5)
4. Toronto 73-73 (10)

BREAKING EVEN…Toronto needs to post a 9-7 record over its final 16 games to finish the season above .500.

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