May 2008

Who knew?

TORONTO – All that preseason complaining by fans about how the Blue Jays needed a lefty in their rotation and, as it turns out, Toronto already has one. Sitting in the dugout this morning, watching Jesse Litsch signing autographs…with his left hand.

Turns out Litsch does everything left handed except pitch. When asked about his amphibious nature — as Yogi Berra would call it — Litsch just smiled and shrugged. He said when he was a kid, he picked up a pencil with his left hand and a baseball with his right. That’s just the way it’s always been.

Speaking of Litsch’s right hand, his outing last night marked the 17th quality start by the Jays rotation this year and the ninth in a row. The 17 QS rank second in the American League. Since April 26, the Jays’ pitchers have held batters to a .164 average and posted a 1.17 ERA — tops in the league in both categories.

Not much else going on, so without further adieu, here are…

Today’s lineups:

CHICAGO (14-14) at TORONTO (14-17)
at 1:07 p.m. ET at Rogers Centre

WHITE SOX
Nick Swisher, CF
Orlando Cabrera, SS
Jim Thome, DH
Paul Konerko, 1B
Jermaine Dye, RF
A.J. Pierzynski, C
Carlos Quentin, LF
Joe Crede, 3B
Pablo Ozuna, 2B

PITCHING: RHP Jose Contreras

BLUE JAYS
Alex Rios, RF
David Eckstein, SS
Scott Rolen, 3B
Matt Stairs, DH
Vernon Wells, CF
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Aaron Hill, 2B
Adam Lind, LF
Gregg Zaun, C

PITCHING: RHP Roy Halladay

Scotty gets a day

TORONTO — Back at the ballyard after a lovely day off, though part of me wishes I was on hand for that gem by Shaun Marcum that lasted only 2 hours and 10 minutes. That kind of outing is a sportswriter’s dream.

Not much going on here today. A scheduled day off for Third Base Jesus: Scott Rolen (little shout out to the boys of Tao there). Jays skipper John Gibbons discussed such a day off for TBJ a few days ago, so it’s no surprise.

Gibbons said he hasn’t been surprised by Rolen’s hot start at the plate, but the third baseman has impressed the manager with his strong play in the field. Specifically, Rolen has impressed with his throwing, considering he’s coming back from that gruesome right middle finger injury.

“It’s still hanging there,” quipped Gibbons, joking about Rolen’s once-mangled digit.

STAT OF THE DAY: Since May 13, 2007, Shaun Marcum ranks second in the American League with a .230 opponents’ batting average. Since joining the Jays’ rotation last year, Marcum has gone 14-6 with a 3.65 ERA. That’s good enough for a .700 winning percentage, the third-best mark in the AL in that time period.

Today’s lineups:

CHICAGO (14-13) at TORONTO (13-17)
at 1:07 p.m. ET at Rogers Centre

WHITE SOX
Nick Swisher, CF
Orlando Cabrera, SS
Jim Thome, DH
Paul Konerko, 1B
Jermaine Dye, RF
A.J. Pierzynski, C
Carlos Quentin, LF
Joe Crede, 3B
Pablo Ozuna, 2B

PITCHING: RHP John Danks

BLUE JAYS
Alex Rios, RF
David Eckstein, SS
Aaron Hill, 2B
Vernon Wells, CF
Matt Stairs, DH
Shannon Stewart, LF
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Rod Barajas, C
Marco Scutaro, 3B

PITCHING: RHP Jesse Litsch

"May flowers?"

BOSTON — That was the response from Blue Jays manager John Gibbons this afternoon, when asked how happy he was to be beyond the season’s first month. Here’s a quick glance at the April that was:

  • Went 11-17 in April, marking the club’s first losing April since it went 7-15 in ’04
  • Finished April in fifth place in the East, the first time that’s happened since ’04
  • Own a .423 winning percentage since 2002 in March/April, the third worst mark in the AL
  • Rank 14th in the AL with a .211 average with runners in scoring position, the worst such mark in club history for the opening month
  • Boast a .250 team average for April (12th in the AL), lowest in April by the Jays since 1998
  • With a loss on Thursday, the Jays’ 1-8 record on their current trip would represent the worst road trip of more than six games in team history
  • Played 10 one-run games in April, tied for the most in the AL. Went 2-8 in those games.

Here’s hoping May goes a little better for the Blue Jays. One area the team did do well was pitching, posting a 3.75 ERA as a staff in April. That ERA is the best in April by the Jays since 2001.

Some minor items today: Gibbons stacked the lineup with right-handers to face Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. Marco Scutaro was at first base and Shannon Stewart in left. The only lefty in the lineup was Matt Stairs, but the way he’s hitting lately, you can’t keep him out.

Gibby also noted that he plans on using the DH spot to help slide guys in and out to provide days off every now and then (“I think it helps the team.”). You might see that this weekend with Scott Rolen, though Gibbons noted he may just give Rolen a complete day off. “I’m not going to kill him right out of the gates,” Gibbons said.

Today’s lineups:

TORONTO (11-17) at BOSTON (17-12)
at 7:05 p.m. ET at Fenway Park

BLUE JAYS
Alex Rios, RF
David Eckstein, SS
Scott Rolen, 3B
Matt Stairs, DH
Vernon Wells, CF
Aaron Hill, 2B
Shannon Stewart, LF
Rod Barajas, C
Marco Scutaro, 1B

PITCHING: RHP A.J. Burnett

RED SOX
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Kevin Youkilis, 1B
David Ortiz, DH
Manny Ramirez, LF
Mike Lowell, 3B
Brandon Moss, RF
Coco Crisp, CF
Jed Lowrie, SS
Kevin Cash, C

PITCHING: RHP Tim Wakefield

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