September 2007

Game #146: Yanks at Jays pregame

New York (83-62) at Toronto (72-73)
at 7:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

Today’s lineups:

YANKEES
Johnny Damon, LF
Derek Jeter, SS
Bobby Abreu, RF
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Hideki Matsui, DH
Robinson Cano, 2B
Melky Cabrera, CF
Wilson Betemit, 1B
Jose Molina, C

PITCHING: RHP Ian Kennedy (1-0, 2.25 ERA)

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

PITCHING: RHP A.J. Burnett (8-7, 3.56 ERA)

NOTES: Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said CF Vernon Wells was simply given the day off — that his absence from the lineup was not related to his injured left shoulder. … CL B.J. Ryan is expected to be in Toronto on Monday. … 3B Troy Glaus has left the club and headed to L.A., where he will undergo surgery on his left foot as early as Monday.

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Thursday
1. New York 83-62 (–)
2. Detroit 80-67 (4)
3. Seattle 76-68 (6.5)
4. Toronto 72-73 (11)

OVER AND OUT…Since 1995, the runner-up in the AL Wild Card race has finished with an average of 89 victories. With 17 games left, it is now impossible for the Blue Jays to reach 90 wins.

So, let’s go with this one instead:

BREAKING EVEN…Toronto needs to post a 10-7 record over its final 17 games to finish the season above .500.

Game #145: Yanks at Jays pregame

New York (82-62) at Toronto (72-72)
at 7:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

Today’s lineups:

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

PITCHING: RHP Mike Mussina (8-10, 5.51 ERA)

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

PITCHING: RHP Dustin McGowan (10-8, 3.90 ERA)

NOTES: 3B Troy Glaus is done for the year. Early next week, Glaus will undergo a nerve decompression surgery on his left foot, which has been bothering him since the first week of the season. The operation will be performed in L.A. by Dr. Phillip Kwong. Glaus was not available for comment about the foot…or the steroid allegations. … Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi said he has talked to Glaus about the SI.com report that came out last week and Ricciardi said the third baseman’s explanation was satisfactory enough for him. Toronto’s GM declined to go into detail, though. … Ricciardi added that he has talked to Matt Stairs’ representatives to express his interest in re-signing the veteran for next season. Ricciardi said he hopes to contine the talks later this week. … Pitching coach Brad Arnsberg had some interesting things to say about Shaun Marcum’s recent comments about battling fatigue. Check the Jays notebook on bluejays.com later on. In his last five starts, Marcum is 2-2 with a 8.49 ERA, a .378 batting average against and an average of 4 2/3 inning per outing. In his first 18 starts, he went 9-2 with a 2.91 ERA, a .211 BAA and he averaged more than six frames per start.

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Wednesday
1. New York 82-62 (–)
2. Detroit 79-67 (4)
3. Seattle 75-68 (6.5)
4. Toronto 72-72 (10)

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE…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 18-0 over their final 18 games to reach 90 wins.

Game #144: Yankees at Blue Jays pregame

New York (81-62) at Toronto (72-71)
at 7:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

Today’s lineups:

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

PITCHING: RHP Phil Hughes (2-3, 5.33 ERA)

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

PITCHING: RHP Shaun Marcum (12-5, 3.74 ERA)

NOTES: 3B Troy Glaus was scheduled to undergo an MRI exam on Tuesday and manager John Gibbons said he could possibly be shut down for the season. … CF Vernon Wells will undergo surgery on his left shoulder to remove a cyst and repair a slight tear in his labrum. Wells said the current plan is to have the operation after the season, but the center fielder said he could potentially have the surgery before the end of the year. … SS John McDonald inked a two-year deal worth $3.8 million for the 2008-09 seasons.

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Tuesday
1. New York 81-62 (–)
2. Detroit 78-66 (3.5)
3. Seattle 75-67 (5.5)
4. Toronto 72-71 (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 18-1 over their final 19 games to reach 90 wins

McDonald signs two-year deal

It was a grand few days off for me, though I didn’t realize the Blue Jays were going to collapse and get tangled up in the steroid scandal in my absence. But, there was a bit of good news on the Toronto front today: shortstop John McDonald has agreed in principle to a two-year contract for the 2008-09 seasons, according to the Toronto Star. Obviously, I’ll be following this up when I wander over to the ol’ Dome today.

My wife and I had a lovely mini-vacation in Boston. We hoofed it along the Freedom Trail, got "America’s Best Burgers" at Mr. Bartley’s steps away from Harvard, and even went whale watching and saw about a dozen humpbacks. The highlight, though — and, if you’re ever in Boston and have a taste for some solid affordable italian food in the North End — was eating at a little place called Giacomo’s. It opened at 5 p.m. and immediately had a line that quickly grew out the door and went down the block. It was spectacular.

Anyway, I’ll be back at the ballpark soon enough. Good to see the comments kept flowing for the most part while I was away.

UPDATE — 1:42 pm It’s official. The Jays just sent out a release, announcing that they have indeed inked Johnny Mac to a two-year, $3.8 million contract. What’re your thoughts on the McDonald signing?

Game #139: Jays at Red Sox pregame

Toronto (70-68) at Boston (85-55)
at 7:05 p.m. ET at Fenway Park

Today’s lineups:

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

PITCHING: RHP Shaun Marcum (12-5, 3.75 ERA)

RED SOX
Julio Lugo, SS
Jacoby Ellsbury, LF
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Lowell, 3B
J.D. Drew, RF
Kevin Youkilis, 1B
Jason Varitek, C
Coco Crisp, CF
Alex Cora, 2B

PITCHING: RHP Curt Schilling (8-6, 4.02 ERA)

NOTES: This marks the first time the jays have faced Schilling since September 2005. … Not much news today. OK — no news today, really. Stairs is still in the lineup and LF Reed Johnson understands completely: "You’ve got Stairsy getting four hits a night and hitting three-run home runs. We’re 6 1/2 games out of a playoff spot. It’s a situation where we’re out to win ballgames right now and he’s the choice." Talk about a team guy. … Since the beginning of the 2002 season, no Major League pitcher has more complete games than Roy Halladay (28), who also leads the AL with 91 wins over that span. … Mrs. Bastian made it safely to Beantown today and she’s taking in the Jays-BoSox game from the stands. We’ll be hanging out in Boston until Sunday, so the blog may be a little inactive until the Jays return back home.

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Wednesday
1. New York 77-62 (–)
2. Seattle 74-63 (2)
3. Detroit 73-65 (3.5)
4. Toronto 70-68 (6.5)

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 20-4 over their final 24 games to reach 90 wins.

Game #138: Jays at Red Sox pregame

Toronto (70-67) at Boston (83-55)
at 7:05 p.m. ET at Fenway Park

Today’s lineups:

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

PITCHING: RHP Roy Halladay (14-6, 3.87 ERA)

RED SOX
Julio Lugo, SS
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Lowell, 3B
J.D. Drew, RF
Kevin Youkilis, 1B
Jason Varitek, C
Coco Crisp, CF
Jacob Ellsbury, LF

PITCHING: RHP Josh Beckett (16-6, 3.29 ERA)

NOTES: Stairs was in the lineup for the third game in a row. Can you blame manager John Gibbons for keeping LF Reed Johnson on the bench? Stairs has hit 479 over his past 21 games and he went 4-for-4 on Monday. … Toronto activated Brandon League from the DL, purchased the contract of C Sal Fasano and recalled RHP Josh Banks and INF Hector Luna. To make room on the 40-man roster for Fasano, LHP Gus Chacin was moved to the 60-day DL. … League plans on staying in Florida to train this winter instead of heading home to Hawaii. … Gibbons said Banks could make a start or two at the end of the month if the Jays fall out of the race. … Toronto will give an extra day of rest to its starters with the upcoming off-day, rather than skip anyone’s turn.

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Tuesday
1. New York 76-62 (–)
2. Seattle 74-62 (1)
3. Detroit 73-64 (2.5)
4. Toronto 70-67 (5.5)

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 20-5 over their final 25 games to reach 90 wins.

Game #137: Jays at Red Sox pregame

Toronto (70-66) at Boston (82-55)
at 7:05 p.m. ET at Fenway Park

Today’s lineups:

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

PITCHING: RHP Jesse Litsch (5-6, 3.40 ERA)

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

PITCHING: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (13-11, 3.88 ERA)

NOTES: Toronto manager John Gibbons kept Stairs and his streaking bat in the lineup, keeping LF Reed Johnson on the bench for a second game in a row. Stairs has hit .444 over his past nine games with eight extra-base hits over that span. Johnson has hit .213 over his past 12 games. … Gibbons said RHP Brandon League would likely rejoin the Jays on Tuesday, along with a handful of September callups. It appears likely that INF Hector Luna, C Sal Fasano and RHP Josh Banks will get the call.

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Monday
1. New York 76-61 (–)
2. Seattle 73-62 (2)
3. Detroit 73-64 (3)
4. Toronto 70-66 (5.5)

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 20-6 over their final 26 games to reach 90 wins.

THIS JUST IN: The Yankees lost, 7-1, to the Mariners this afternoon, meaning the Jays can move within 4.5 games of the Wild Card lead with a win tonight over Boston.

Game #136: M's at Jays pregame

Seattle (73-61) at Toronto (69-66)
at 1:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

Today’s lineups:

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

PITCHING: RHP Jeff Weaver (6-10, 5.62 ERA)

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

PITCHING: RHP A.J. Burnett (7-7, 3.70 ERA)

NOTES: The move came a bit earlier than expected, by LHP Joe Kennedy was at the Rogers Centre on Sunday. The Blue Jays purchased his contract from Triple-A Syracuse and added him to their bullpen. … the Toronto chapter of the BBWAA announced on Saturday that Frank Thomas and Roy Halladay were voted the Player and Pitcher of the Month, respectively, for August. … RHP Jeremy Accardo has struggled lately with throwing his split-finger fastball — a reason his last few saves have been a little rough around the edges. … STAT OF THE DAY: The Mariners, who have lost eight in a row heading into today’s game, have had four losing streaks of six games or more this season — the most in the Majors. And they’re still two games out of the Wild Card. Talk about hot and cold spells.

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Saturday
1. New York 76-60 (–)
2. Seattle 73-61 (2)
3. Detroit 73-63 (3)
4. Toronto 69-66 (6.5)

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 21-6 over their final 27 games to reach 90 wins.

Go Green!

It’s September 1st, which means rosters around baseball expand to 40 players, and oh yeah, college football season!

Read it and weep Wolverine fans:

Michigan State: 1-0
U. of Michigan: 0-1

Oh, the sweet taste of victory for the Spartans and absolute bitter, horrifying, embaressing defeat for Michigan. My Spartans did what they were supposed to do — crush UAB in a 55-18 joke of a game in East Lansing. Meanwhile, in little ol’ Ann Arbor, the No. 5 Wolverines quivered to a 34-32 mindnumbing loss to … Appalachian State?

Blue Jays third base coach Brian Butterfield is a HUGE Michigan fan, and in the wake of having a missed field goal with six seconds left cost his team an opening-week win, well, needless to say he wasn’t in a good mood. I peaked my head into the coaches’ office after the game and said:

"MSU won 55-18. Now there’s a school who knows how to finish off a team it should beat."

Butter responded with, "You better watch it. You’re in the coaches’ room. There’s no telling what I might do."

All in good fun, sure, but just in case, I said, "Tough loss, coach," and made my way quickly out the clubhouse doors. And it was a tough loss. So, my heartfelt sympathies go out to all you Michigan fans, whose national title hopes have been crushed swiftly. Ah, let’s be honest, I’m giddy that the ol’ Wolverines blew it big today.

And I know, I know — I’m talking up Michigan State? I’m well aware that my college ain’t exactly a top-tier program. In fact, I’m the first to admit that I’m gearing up for college basketball season by the time the Spartans are about three games into the Big Ten Schedule. Undoubtedly, UM will likely romp all over the Green Shirts later this year.

So, I’ll rub it in whenever I get the chance!

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Congratulations Appalachian State. The Big House was yours for one day.

Game #135: M's at Jays pregame

Seattle (73-60) at Toronto (68-66)
at 1:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

Today’s lineups:

MARINERS
Ichiro Suzuki, CF
Jose Vidro, DH
Jose Guillen, RF
Raul Ibanez, LF
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Ben Broussard, 1B
Jose Lopez, 2B
Jamie Burke, C
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS

PITCHING: RHP Miguel Batista (13-10, 4.74 ERA)

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

PITCHING: RHP Dustin McGowan (8-8, 4.18 ERA)

**As it turns out, the lineup card that the Blue Jays turned in to home-plate ump Marty Foster, and the one subsequently given to M’s manager John McLaren, had Hill batting sixth and Overbay seventh. We learned this in the second, when Overbay flew out to left and Hill doubled, leading McLaren to appeal Hill’s hit. Since the lineup card was incorrect, Hill was ruled out for batting out of turn. Zaun struck out to end the inning.

NOTES: Injured closer B.J. Ryan began throwing lightly this week and GM J.P. Ricciardi said the left-hander will likely head to Toronto on the next homestand to throw in front of team trainers. Considering the way guys like RHPs Jeremy Accardo and Casey Janssen have stepped up this year in Ryan’s absence, Ricciardi said: "It’s allowing us to have a little more patience. It gives you a little more comfort, knowing that we have a couple guys who can do the job in certain areas. When he’s right, he’s right, whether that’s in April or in May or whenever. There’s a little bit of a comfort level there." … As expected, OF Adam Lind was recalled from Triple-A.

AL WILD CARD RACE
entering Saturday
1. New York 75-60 (–)
2. Seattle 73-60 (1)
3. Detroit 72-63 (3)
4. Toronto 68-66 (6.5)

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 22-6 over their final 28 games to reach 90 wins.

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