Game 28: Cleveland at Toronto pregame

Glancing at the American League’s offensive charts, it’s not hard to find the Blue Jays — they’re right there near the top in most team categories. There is one area where Toronto is lacking, though. No big surprise: Jays rank 12th in the league in stolen bases.

Through 27 games, the Birds nabbed 12 bags and were only caught once. A great success rate, but not a whole heckuva lot of tries. Only Oakland and Kansas City — with 11 each — had fewer in the league. Toronto’s leader? Vernon Wells with three.

So what gives?

“I might have to ask you how many they stole this time last year,” said Jays manager Cito Gaston, when asked about the low robbery rate. “I think you better check that one. They might not have that many last year — I don’t know.”

Actually, turns out that the Go Go Jays had 22 (10 CS) through 27 games last season under former manager John Gibbons. Alex Rios, who ended with 32 swipes in ’08, led the way with six and was followed by Marco Scutaro (three), John McDonald (two), Aaron Hill (two), Joe Inglett (two), David Eckstein (two), Gregg Zaun (two!), Scott Rolen (one), Buck Coats (remember him? one) and Wells (one).

One Jays scribe asked if the low stolen bases total so far this season could be a result of the strong offense. Why take risks when the group is hitting so well and producing so many runs?

“It’s not about that. It’s about opportunities and chances that you take,” Gaston replied. “Sometimes, we run according to who’s on that mound — how fast they’re unloading. You see us try to steal third sometimes, because some guys get where they get a little lackadaisical paying attention to guys on second.”

Despite the early numbers, Gaston said he is definitely a fan of stealing bases,

“Absolutely,” he said. “The running game creates a lot of trouble for people. If you can run, you can cause a lot of problems. Instead of hitting doubles, you can run into a double or run into a triple. If you have speed, it’s great.”

UPDATES: LHP Ricky Romero (strained right oblique) postponed his schedule bullpen session until Tuesday. The change came because Romero has been pushed back to pitch one day after RHP Casey Janssen (right shoulder). Janssen’s next start for Class A Dunedin is slated for Wednesday and Romero’s first rehab start for Dunedin will be Thursday. … RHP Jesse Litsch (right elbow tightness) is on a tad slower schedule than Romero/Janssen, who could be back after two-three more Minors starts, but is only about a week behind, according to GM J.P. Ricciardi. Litsch is on a throwing program in Florida, but there is no target date for his first rehab start yet. … LHP B.J. Ryan (left trapezius tightness) threw in the bullpen on Monday and will head to Florida to begin a rehab stint with Class A Dunedin on Wednesday. There is no timetable for Ryan’s return, but the plan is for him to progress up the Minor League system. … RHP Shaun Marcum (Tommy John on right elbow at end of last season) has been throwing in bullpen sessions and Ricciardi said the pitcher “might” be able to begin pitching in Minor League games some time in June. He is WAY ahead of schedule. … RHP Dustin McGowan (right shoulder) is currently playing catch, but it’s still unlikely he is back this season.

GOING TO CALI: I will not be covering Tuesday’s game, missing out on the big league debut for Jays lefty Brett Cecil. I’ll be traveling to the West Coast for Toronto’s two-game set with the Angels. So the blog will be dormant until Wednesday. I won’t be making the trek to Oakland. Instead, will be spending a couple extra days in Anaheim to visit some family.

Today’s lineups:

Thumbnail image for Indians.jpgCLEVELAND INDIANS (9-16)

1. Grady Sizemore, CF
2. Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B
3. Victor Martinez, C
4. Shin-Soo Choo, RF
5. Mark DeRosa, 3B
6. Jhonny Peralta, SS
7. Ryan Garko, 1B
8. Matt LaPorta, LF
9. Ben Francisco, DH

Starter: RHP Fausto Carmona (1-3)

Thumbnail image for BlueJays.jpgTORONTO BLUE JAYS (18-9)

1. Marco Scutaro, SS
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Alex Rios, RF
4. Vernon Wells, CF
5. Adam Lind, LF
6. Scott Rolen, 3B
7. Lyle Overbay, 1B
8. Rod Barajas, C
9. Travis Snider, DH

Starter: LHP Brian Tallet (1-1)



In the last 3-4 days, we’ve had 3 pitchers pitch no-hitters into the 6th or 7th innings.

First was David Purcey on his first start in AAA who went into the 6th without giving up a hit. (although 5 walks still leaves a lot to be desired). It will be interesting to see how Purcey does in his next couple of starts.
Then two yesterday with Brian Tallet here and Marc Rzepczynski in New Hampshire both going into the 6th inning.

If it’s a disease, I hope Cecil caught it and does the same today. lol

Well, I guess it’s not contagious GS. Unfortunately I was at work so I couldn’t watch today’s game but what a line by Cecil. This team has me believing that the playoffs are a possibility and to think we still have the returns of Janssen, Romero, Litsch and possibly Marcum to look forward to.

Of all the young pitchers I’ve had the pleasure to watch debut over the years, Brett Cecil impressed me the most with his start today.

Others have had more velocity, better change ups, better sliders, but Cecil at a tender age of 22 is a better pitcher than any of the others I’ve seen.
Why-well he changes speeds on almost every pitch he has. I watched him throw 4 sinkers to a batter and each one was at a different speed from 90 to 78 mph. Cecil did that with sinkers, sliders and change ups. He even varies speed on his fastball from 86 to 92-these are huge differences for a hitter.
Front of the rotation type stuff. Cecil is going to be something special, the Jays are right to limit his innings this year, stretching him our slowly.

He reminds me a lot of Jimmy Key-another crafty lefty, but I think Cecil’s going to be better, if he stays healthy. Of course, one start does not make a career, but if he pitches like he did today each time out, it will be a good one.

Congratulations to Scott Richmond for winning the Gillette AL Rookie of the month award. Also congratulations to Ricky Romero for finishing 3rd.

It is with mixed emotions that I make this post. Sadness because last night our poster Garryguy (Mr. Garry Brigham) passed away in his sleep at the very young age of 64. I for one will miss his friendship and comments here and I’m sure others will as well.

Some could question Garry’s comments, since we all have highly opinionated thoughts on our Jays, but no one could ever question Garry’s love for the Jays and the game itself.

The other emotion is gladness, since Garry passed peacefully and I’m sure is sitting in the dugout each time the Jays play from here on in.

If you wish to express your condolences to the family go to this url, obituaries and click on Garry Brigham.

Check Out Fabio Castro

This kid is starting to convince me he?s the real deal. He went 7 innings last night in his 2nd start in Vegas, gave up 2 hits, 2 walks, struck out 3 and gave up no runs. This was his 6th start of the season between AA and AAA and 4 of these starts have been shutouts.

This year in 6 starts over 34 innings he?s given up a total of 5 runs, walked 8, struck out 32 and has an opposing batter BA of a minuscule .185.

Looks to me that we have an embarrassment of high quality left hand pitching prospects with Cecil, Purcey, Romero and Mills . Nice problem to have.

By the way, there’s more prospects en route as well. New Hampshire, our AA affiliate is leading the Eastern league with a team era of 2.92.

That is sad news about Garryguy. His contributions to this blog will be missed.

Thank you for letting us know about Garry , he will certainly be missed

It’s nice to see Cito starting to get recognition as this article in SI points out, with Cito being ranked number 6 in “Best Managers.”

6. Cito Gaston, Blue Jays: It’s really a shame the 65-year-old Gaston was out of the game for a ridiculous 11 years. It could have been because Gaston doesn’t exactly light a room up with his personality, though closet racism on the part of some can’t be ruled out as a cause. Whatever the reason, it was baseball’s loss. It seems the Jays always play best when he’s their manager.

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