July 2009

Game 92: Boston at Toronto pregame

UpsetJays.jpgSo, what has happened to these Blue Jays?

From the cream of the American League crop to flirting with the cellar in baseball’s toughest division, all in a matter of two months.

Seeing as it’s a slow news day here at the Dome — David Dellucci day-to-day after X-rays came back negative on his left foot and Vernon Wells still sick and out of the lineup — it seems appropriate to take some time to compare Toronto’s hot start to its prolonged skid.

Really, it’s a tale of two seasons: Before the nine-game losing streak and after the nine-game losing streak.

Prior to that skid, the Blue Jays were 27-14 and in first place in the East by 3.5 games. They jumped out of the gates with a strong offense (.289/.358/.463 with 1.2 HR/G, 5.7 R/G, 10.3 H/G) and decent pitching (3.85 ERA with 6.9 K/G, 3.1 BB/G).

In the 50 games since then, the Blue Jays have gone 17-33 and now sit in fourth place in the East, 12 games back of the Red Sox. The pitching has had its share of issues — injuries, tired bullpen, inexperience — and it has shown (4.59 ERA, 7.5 K/G, 3.6 BB/G). The offense, with a revolving door in left field, and subpar showings from Vernon Wells, Alex Rios, has slumped to the tune of .255/.318/.403 with 1.0 HR/G, 4.1 R/G, 9.0 H/G.

Has schedule played a role? Early on, it was hard to really know what to make of the Blue Jays’ hot start due to the fact that it primarily played the AL West and Central while running to first place in the East. It looks like there may have been something to that after all.

Consider that in Toronto’s first 41 games — before that nine-game slide at the end of May — the team played only six games against division rivals. In the last 50 games, the Jays have played 23 games against the East (5-18), 18 games against the National League (7-11) and nine against other AL divisions (5-4).

The way things have been going of late, the Blue Jays should simply be aiming to finish this season with a winning record. I guess the thing for Toronto fans to keep in mind is — despite the team’s hot start — the Blue Jays were widely predicted to be a fourth-place team this season.

Today’s lineups:

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for RedSox.gifBOSTON RED SOX (55-34)
First place AL East, – GB

1. J.D. Drew, RF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
4. David Ortiz, DH
5. Jason Bay, LF
6. Mike Lowell, 3B
7. Rocco Baldelli, CF
8. Jed Lowrie, SS
9. George Kottaras, C

Starter: RHP Brad Penny (6-3, 4.71)

Thumbnail image for BlueJays.jpgTORONTO BLUE JAYS (44-47)
Fourth place AL East, 12.0 GB

1. Marco Scutaro, SS
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Adam Lind, LF
4. Scott Rolen, 3B
5. Lyle Overbay, 1B
6. Alex Rios, CF
7. Kevin Millar, DH
8. Jose Bautista, RF
9. Raul Chavez, C

Starter: LHP Marc Rzepczynski (0-1, 3.00)

Don’t forget, you can follow me on Twitter: @MLBastian

~JB

Game 91: Boston at Toronto pregame

tallet.jpgWhile discussing innings limits for a few of his pitchers, Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston was asked if Brian Tallet’s innings would need to be monitored similarly — seeing as he was moved from the bullpen to the rotation earlier this year.

“Since you asked that, we’re going to move Tallet back into the bullpen,” Gaston replied.

Part of the reason is, yes, the Jays need to watch his work load, considering he’s been a reliever throughout his career and he’s almost thrown more innings this season than in the last two combined already. The other reason is Toronto has so many off-days coming up that the club doesn’t require a fifth starter until July 25 — a start tentatively planned for Tallet.

So, on Saturday, the Blue Jays will send rookie lefty Marc Rzepczynski to the mound to face the Red Sox. Initially, it was thought that Scott Richmond (sore right shoulder) would be activated from the DL and inserted back into the rotation after the All-Star break. Gaston said today that Richmond will likely be sidelined until the Oakland series at the end of the month.

With so many off-days, there’s really no rush to bring Richmond back, especially if Rzepczynski can continue to hold his own. After this three-game set with Boston, Toronto has off-days on Monday and July 30, as well as five off-days in August (on the 3rd, 6th, 13th, 17th and 27th). Enjoy the rest, Jays, because in September? One day off on the 17th.

Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells was out of the starting lineup on Friday night due to a stomach virus, according to Gaston. Toronto’s manager didn’t expect Wells to miss too much time.

And, no, ace Roy Halladay has not been traded yet. But he was on the field giving a pitching clinic to two young boys from the local Rookie League.

On June 26, the Jays Care Foundation hosted a charity auction and one was for a private pitching lessons with Doc. A bidding war ensued and Brandy Halladay, Doc’s wife, allowed the top two bidders to take part in the lesson. The second winner, with no kids of his own, donated the spots to Jays Care.

The foundation awared the spots to 10-year-old Faris Adamou and 12-year-old Joseph Bryan, who play in the Rookie League — a baseball program for kids within Toronto Community Housing. They began by playing catch with Halladay in the outfield and then moved by the mound, where Doc gave them personal tips.

Today’s lineups:


Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for RedSox.gifBOSTON RED SOX (54-34)
First place AL East, – GB

1. J.D. Drew, RF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
4. David Ortiz, DH
5. Jason Bay, LF
6. Mike Lowell, 3B
7. Jason Varitek, C
8. Rocco Baldelli, CF
9. Nick Green, SS

Starter: RHP Clay Buchholz (Season debut)

Thumbnail image for BlueJays.jpgTORONTO BLUE JAYS (44-46)
Fourth place AL East, 11.0 GB

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

Starter: LHP Ricky Romero (7-3, 3.00)

Don’t forget, you can follow me on Twitter: @MLBastian

~JB

Halladay, Hill starters for the AL

DocMaddon.jpgIt’s nice when the stars allign and certain players earn exactly what they deserve. This is not always the case with baseball’s annual All-Star Game, which tends to be a popularity contest when it comes to the starting position players and is often about first-half standouts when it comes to the starting pitchers.

That’s not the case this year for Jays second baseman Aaron Hill and ace Roy Halladay.

Hill has arguably been the top second baseman in the game up to this point this season — this after coming back from a severe, career-threatening concussion. The players appropriately gave Hill the nod in peer voting, but the fans elected Boston’s Dustin Pedroia to start. Pedroia is skipping the ASG to be with his pregnany wife — good call — and Hill has been named the starter at second as a result.

Hill, who will be batting eighth for the AL, should have been the starter all along.

Well deserved.

Halladay will be on the mound as the starter for the AL in his sixth All-Star appearance. Halladay’s has deserved to start before, but circumstances haven’t afforded him the opportunity — think Kevin Mench line drive in ’05 or Cliff Lee’s stellar season in ’08, for example. This year, Rays and AL manager Joe Maddon could’ve easily given the nod to KC’s Zack Greinke and no one would’ve complained. Instead, Maddon decided to hand the start to Doc due to the ace’s “body of work.”

Nice touch.

In his press conference, Halladay did address the recent trade rumors swirling.

“I think there is so much that goes into it,” Halladay said. “I’m still not 100 percent sure which direction we’re going in in Toronto. If Toronto does decide to do something, it’s really going to be something that helps the organization. There’s going to be a lot of pieces; it’s going to be complicated. I think it’s going to be kind of 50-50.”

~JB

Game 87: Toronto at Tampa Bay pregame

scutarocard.jpgBlue Jays manager Cito Gaston admitted that it was hard to not include Marco Scutaro or Scott Rolen in the starting lineup for Thursday’s tilt against the Rays.

Scutaro has hit .323 in his last seven games and has been a catalyst all season for the offense. Rolen is riding a career-best 25-game hitting streak. And the Jays are in a slump, losing 10 of their past 13.

“It’s real tough, especially when you’ve got one of your better pitchers going,” said Gaston, referring to ace Roy Halladay. “I just kind of gave [bench coach Brian]Butterfield the lineup and said, ‘Hey, go get ‘em Doc.’”

The bottom line was that Rolen had been receiving days off on day games after night games frequently this season to help keep him fresh. Scutaro — a part-time player throughout his career — had started every single one of Toronto’s 86 games before Thursday.

“We talked about it earlier in the week that I was going to give him today off,” Gaston said of Scutaro. “It’s well deserved. I think after the All-Star break, I’m going to try to get him and [second baseman Aaron] Hill out of there maybe once a week and give [John McDonald] some more playing time — just rest those guys a little bit.”

Gaston said he hasn’t seen any signs of Scutaro tiring due to the increased work load.

“Not really,” Gaston said. “This kid goes and plays hard every day no matter what. I do know that he probably needs a rest here and there every once in a while and I think that’s what we’re going to do. What’d he get? Two hits last night? When guys are dragging, they don’t swing the bat like that.”

ON TALLET: Following the lemon he turned in on Wednesday night, Blue Jays lefty Brian Tallet described his outing as “horrible” and said that it seems like when he goes bad, he goes REALLY bad this season. It’s true, considering three blowups really skew his performance as a starter.

Here are Tallet’s worst three starts:

July 8 at Tampa Bay: 3 IP, 8 R, 11 H
June 14 vs. Florida: 3.1 IP, 8 R, 10 H
April 29 at Kansas City: 4 IP, 10 R, 11 H

In those three outings: 0-2 with a 22.65 ERA (10.1 IP/26 ER)

In Tallet’s other 14 starts: 5-4 with a 2.72 ERA (86 IP/26 ER)

“That’s the problem,” Tallet said. “It’s the game where I don’t get out of the fourth inning or I don’t get out of the third inning and I give up eight or 10 runs. I’ve got to find a way to get rid of those, because those are unnaceptable at this level — at any level. If I’m doing that in A ball, I’m getting released. I’ve got to figure out what’s going wrong when I’m going bad and not allow it to happen.”

STEPPING AWAY: Gaston will not be heading with the Blue Jays to Baltimore following today’s game in St. Pete. Last Thursday, Cito’s sister, Mattie Clarke, passed away and Toronto’s manager is heading to San Antonio to attend her funeral services this weekend. He hopes to rejoin the Jays on Sunday. Butterfield will serve as temporary manager until Gaston’s return.

HEADING HOME: I will not be making the trip to lovely Baltimore, either. I’m heading back to Toronto for a few days off. I am also not heading to St. Louis this week for the All-Star Game, so bluejays.com will be in someone else’s hands and I’ll be blogging a bit less until the second half resumes. I’ll probably roll out my First Half Award Winners during the break.

Today’s lineups:

Thumbnail image for BlueJays.jpgTORONTO BLUE JAYS (43-43)
Fourth place AL East, 9.0 GB

1. Jose Bautista, 3B
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Adam Lind, LF
4. Kevin Millar, DH
5. Vernon Wells, CF
6. Alex Rios, RF
7. Lyle Overbay, 1B
8. Rod Barajas, C
9. John McDonald, SS

Starter: RHP Roy Halladay (10-2, 2.79)

Thumbnail image for Rays.jpgTAMPA BAY RAYS (46-39)
Third place AL East, 5.5 GB

1. B.J. Upton, CF
2. Carl Crawford, LF
3. Evan Longoria, 3B
4. Carlos Pena, 1B
5. Ben Zobrist, 2B
6. Pat Burrell, DH
7. Gabe Gross, RF
8. Jason Bartlett, SS
9. Michel Hernandez, C

Starter: LHP David Price (2-3, 5.21)

Don’t forget, you can follow me on Twitter: @MLBastian

~JB

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Game 86: Toronto at Tampa Bay pregame

ryan.jpgIt was a given that someone was going to be removed from the Blue Jays’ bullpen soon. Closer Scott Downs was coming off the DL and a spot had to be vacated.

Even with B.J. Ryan’s recent struggles, though, learning that the club decided to release the former closer came as a bit of a shock.

“I mean, we knew Downs was coming back at some point and someone had to come out of the ‘pen,” said reliever Jason Frasor, who served as the interim closer while Downs’ was on the DL. “But, when I heard it was B.J., it was like ‘Wow. They actually did it.’”

Wow indeed.

Ryan is still on the books for roughly $5 million more this season and another $10 million in 2010 — paychecks that will continue to head his way from the Blue Jays.

Assistant GM Alex Anthopoulos said the Blue Jays discussed the move internally on Tuesday night, cleared it with ownership Wednesday morning, and Ryan learned he was being released around 3 p.m. ET — a half-hour before the clubhouse doors open. Word is that he rode away in a golf cart in the service-level tunnel.

Ryan didn’t help his cause on Monday when he said he felt some of his command issues stemmed from his sporadic use. It was the ol’ Catch-22, as Anthopoulos pointed out. Ryan believed more time on the mound could help, but manager Cito Gaston no longer trusted Ryan to pitch in critical situations.

“A few days ago, I think we saw in the media that he expressed some frustration of not being able to pitch more and be used more,” Anthopoulos said. “I think that’s what it came down to, that the role that we had for him right now, we couldnt get him the work that he wanted to have.

“It was one of those things that it’s a Catch-22. He needed to pitch more to get the results, but unfortunately we’re in the business of trying to win games and Cito needs to do what he can to give the team the best chance to win and put the best guys in there that he feels gives us the best chance.”

Downs, who was activated from the DL after a bout with a sprained left toe, will immediately return to the closer’s role — a job he was handed in April in light of Ryan’s continued issues on the mound. With Downs as the closer and Brian Tallet in the rotation, heavily-used Jesse Carlson is the lone lefty specialist available in the bullpen now.

Today’s lineups:

Thumbnail image for BlueJays.jpg*TORONTO BLUE JAYS (43-42)
Fourth place AL East, 8.0 GB

1. Marco Scutaro, SS
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Adam Lind, DH
4. Scott Rolen, 3B
5. Vernon Wells, CF
6. Kevin Millar, 1B
7. Alex Rios, RF
8. Jose Bautista, LF
9. Raul Chavez, C

Starter: LHP Brian Tallet, (5-6, 5.38)

Thumbnail image for Rays.jpgTAMPA BAY RAYS (45-39)
Second place AL East, 5.5 GB

1. B.J. Upton, CF
2. Carl Crawford, LF
3. Evan Longoria, 3B
4. Carlos Pena, 1B
5. Ben Zobrist, 2B
6. Pat Burrell, DH
7. Jason Bartlett, SS
8. Gabe Kapler, RF
9. Dioner Navarro, C

Starter: LHP Scott Kazmir (4-5, 6.79)

*The Jays have not slipped to a .500 record at any point this season

Don’t forget, you can follow me on Twitter: @MLBastian

~JB

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Game 85: Toronto at Tampa Bay pregame

So Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi has let it be known that he’s willing to entertain trade offers for ace Roy Halladay. Toronto isn’t shopping its best player, but the club is at least admitting that it will listen to what is out there.

So how does Doc feel about all of this?

For me, the best I can do is try to avoid letting it become a distraction and go from there. I understand, obviously, the economics of the game and how the game works. It’s a situation where I think if it’s best for the team, if it’s best for me, then you go from there. At this point, it’s too hard to tell.”

Doc’s reaction seemed to indicate that he’s a little more open to the concept of a trade than he has been in the past. Toronto is in fourth place, the rotation is in shambles, Halladay is a free agent after 2010 and he wants to win. He wants to win in Toronto, but he needs to feel the situation north of the border is going to improve swiftly for him to want to stick around for the long haul.

“My goals have always been the same,” Halladay said. “I love Toronto. I want to stay here, but I want to win as well. That’s becoming more and more of a goal for me. Obviously, my first choice would be to do it here. Like I’ve said in the past, whether or not our organization and my goals line up, it’s never always going to be that way. Sometimes teams have to take steps back and I understand that. I think you always keep in mind the direction you want to go as a player.”

If he’s not dealt, Halladay was asked if he’d want to wait to see how the 2010 plays out before opting to sign an extension.

“I don’t know if you were to talk about something like that what it would entail. I think my biggest decision would be, ‘Do I feel like this is going to go in a direction where we have a chance to win, and quickly?’ And that’s it. It’s hard to tell, but it’s not going to be a decision based on whether it’s a certain years or a certain number. It’s going to be based on winning.”

Halladay said Ricciardi might even be willing to listen to offers knowing the pitcher’s desire to finally reach a World Series.

“He knows where I’m coming from,” Halladay said. “I really believe, even in situations like this, that maybe he’s looking for my best interest, too. Obviously, I’m grateful to have a guy who does take that into account. We really haven’t had those talks, but I think it’s always been open communication.”

In the past Halladay has said he’d prefer not to play for teams that throw tons of money at players in order to try to “buy” championships (see: New York Yankees). Halladay wants to feel his team has fought it’s way and earned a title. Would Halladay accept a trade to a team like the Yankees now?

“That’s a hard question to answer. Really, at this point, I have to do the best I can to focus on my job here. If something does come up, you weigh your options at that point. I hate to put the cart before the horse and start saying I don’t want to go here, I want to do this or I want to do that. I think you just evaluate situations when they come up. I have to focus on my job here.”

Asked if he was more open to a trade than in the past, as it seemed during the interview, Halladay grimaced and hesitated.

“That’s tough. That’s a tough question to answer, honestly,” Halladay said. “I want to stay here, but I think when an organization is kind of thinking that maybe we kind of want to go this direction and it’s a situation that suits the team and yourself, then you have to evaluate that and say, ‘Maybe this is the best thing.’ I’m really not in that situation yet.

OTHER ITEMS: Blue Jays pitcher Shaun Marcum (Tommy John on right elbow at end of last season) logged three innings for Class A Dunedin on Monday. If everything goes according to plan, Toronto believes Marcum might be able to join the big league rotation the first week of August. … Scott Richmond (sore right shoulder) received a cortisone shot and underwent an MRI on Tuesday and is waiting on the results. The team doctor believes it’s just inflammation. Richmond can’t resume throwing for at least three days. … LHP Scott Downs (sprained toe left foot) threw off a mound on Tuesday. The Jays will wait and see how he feels on Wednesday before determining if he can be activated from the DL to rejoin the bullpen. … RHP Jesse Litsch (TJ right elbow earlier this year) made an appearance at The Trop. … The Jays players and coaches were all wearing “LIND YOUR VOTE” shirts during pregame to promote Adam Lind for the Final Vote All-Star spot. You can vote for Lind on bluejays.com.

Today’s lineups:

Thumbnail image for BlueJays.jpgTORONTO BLUE JAYS (43-41)
Fourth place AL East, 7.0 GB

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

Starter: LHP Marc Rzepczynski (MLB debut)


Thumbnail image for Rays.jpgTAMPA BAY RAYS (44-39)
Second place AL East, 5.5 GB

1. B.J. Upton, CF
2. Carl Crawford, LF
3. Evan Longoria, 3B
4. Carlos Pena, 1B
5. Ben Zobrist, 2B
6. Pat Burrell, DH
7. Jason Bartlett, SS
8. Gabe Kapler, RF
9. Dioner Navarro, C

Starter: RHP James Shields (6-6, 3.50)

Don’t forget, you can follow me on Twitter: @MLBastian

~JB

Game 84: Toronto at New York pregame

hillpowder.jpgOne look at the American League home run leaders, and it’d seem to make sense that MLB might ask Blue Jays second baseman Aaron Hill if he’d be interested in taking part in the Home Run Derby.

Hill ranks third in the league with 20 bombs, which are the most for any second baseman in the game right now. On top of that, his total already is a team record in a season for a second sacker.

“Yeah, but those are in games,” Hill said with a laugh on Monday morning. “Have you seen me in batting practice? Maybe if they do something about the fences I’d consider it.”

So, don’t count on Hill swinging for the fences in Busch Stadium. Besides, I doubt he’d want to risk ruining the good swing he’s got going for him right now. “It’s bad luck, isn’t it?” said Hill, when asked about the Derby. It sure didn’t do much for Alex Rios, who took part in the event in 2007 in San Francisco.

Prior to Monday’s game, Hill came out into the dugout to do a TV interview and a kid — maybe nine or 10 years old — wearing a red Yankees cap, was leaning over the railing with a baseball and a pen, asking “Mr. Hill” for an autograph. When Hill obliged, the kid said “congrats” since the second baseman just made his first All-Star team. Savvy kids here in New York.

Blue Jays closer Scott Downs is scheduled to throw off a mound in a bullpen session on Tuesday. Downs is still fighting a sprained toe on his left foot, an injury that’s kept him on the DL for nearly three weeks. With only six games remaining before All-Star break, Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said there’s a chance Downs might not return until the second half. That’s still “up ion the air” though.

Chatted some with B.J. Ryan today. Check bluejays.com a bit later for more.

Today’s lineups:

Thumbnail image for BlueJays.jpgTORONTO BLUE JAYS (42-41)
Fourth place AL East, 8.0 GB

1. Marco Scutaro, SS
2. Aaron Hill, DH
3. Vernon Wells, CF
4. Scott Rolen, 3B
5. Alex Rios, RF
6. Kevin Millar, 1B
7. Jose Bautista, LF
8. Rod Barajas, C
9. John McDonald, 2B

Starter: LHP Ricky Romero (6-3, 2.85)

Thumbnail image for Yankees.jpgNEW YORK YANKEES (48-33)
Second place AL East, 1.0 GB

1. Derek Jeter, SS
2. Nick Swisher, 1B
3. Mark Teixeira, DH
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Jorge Posada, C
6. Robinson Cano, 2B
7. Melky Cabrera, LF
8. Eric Hinske, RF
9. Brett Gardner, CF

Starter: LHP Any Pettitte (8-3, 4.25)

Don’t forget, you can follow me on Twitter: @MLBastian

~JB

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Help send Lind to St. Louis

lind.jpgAdam Lind’s chances of making it to the All-Star Game were slim before this season even started. As the Jays’ projected DH, Lind was left off the ballot, due to the game being played in a National League park.

No matter how well Lind played, it was going to be difficult to convince fans to write his name in enough times to send him to St. Louis. Well, Lind has been enjoying a breakout season, and now his name IS on a ballot.

The Final Vote ballot.

Lind joins L.A.’s Chone Figgins, Tampa Bay’s Carlos Pena, Detroit’s Brandon Inge and Texas’ Ian Kinsler as the American League choices for the final spot on the league’s elite squad.

Blue Jays fans can vote for Lind until 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, and he certainly deserves to join ace Roy Halladay and second baseman Aaron Hill at Busch Stadium. Through 80 games, all A Mighty Lind has done is hit .309 with 17 homers, 25 doubles and 55 RBIs, putting up a .384 on-base and a .553 slugging. He added a two-run homer in the third-inning at Yankee Stadium today.

So, this is your chance as Blue Jays fans to potentially help Lind to his first All-Star Game. CLICK HERE TO CAST YOUR VOTE.

~JB

Game 83: Toronto at New York pregame

MEET YOUR 2009 BLUE JAYS ALL-STARS

hill.jpg

Second baseman Aaron Hill

Hill gets his first All-Star selection thanks to his peers. Well deserved. It would’ve been a shame for him to miss out on the Midsummer Classic just because his particular position is stacked with talent, especially in the bigger more publicized markets. Through 81 games, Hill has hit .297 with 19 homers (club record for second baseman) and 56 RBIs. His 105 hits were the second-most in the Majors and he ranked first among all second baseman in hits, homers, RBIs and total bases (175). This after missing much of last season with a serious concussion.

Doc.jpg

Jays ace Roy “Doc” Halladay

Halladay heads to St. Louis for his sixth All-Star appearance. The only question is whether Toronto’s ace will be honored with the start. Through 16 outings, the good doctor has gone 10-2 with a 2.79 ERA and three complete games. Even with two weeks spent on the DL in June, Halladay is tied for the most wins in the game and his 116 innings mark the sixth-highest total. He has 98 strikeouts against 17 walks and has induced an American League-high 193 groundouts. Doc’s 1.09 WHIP is the third-best among AL starters and he’s averaged just 14.1 pitches per inning.

Today’s lineups:

Thumbnail image for BlueJays.jpgTORONTO BLUE JAYS (42-40)
Fourth place AL East, 7.0 GB

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

Starter: LHP Brett Cecil (2-1, 5.09)


Thumbnail image for Yankees.jpgNEW YORK YANKEES (47-33)
Second place AL East, 1.0 GB

1. Derek Jeter, SS
2. Johnny Damon, LF
3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
4. Jorge Posada, C
5. Hideki Matsui, DH
6. Nick Swisher, RF
7. Robinson Cano, 2B
8. Melky Cabrera, CF
9. Cody Ransom, 3B

Starter: RHP Joba Chamberlain (4-2, 3.89)

Don’t forget, you can follow me on Twitter: @MLBastian

~JB

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Game 82: Toronto at New York pregame

yankeehole.jpgAsked about the old Yankee Stadium last week, Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston called it a “dump”, saying “All it has is history.”

Now, it’s a reversed situation. The new Yankee Stadium is a luxurious facility for fans, press and players alike. What it lacks, though, is history. The Yankees are at least doing their best to add some early lore to the building.

On the lower level, in the tunnel that leads to the clubhouses, there is a hole in the ground that is sectioned off by some piping (pictured right). It is where the David Ortiz jersey was dug out of the foundation during the stadium’s construction. Click the link to read more about the history of the hole.

They could’ve easily filled the hole in, but where would the fun be in that?

Sitting in the visiting dugout this afternoon, us scribes were chatting with Jays second baseman Aaron Hill. He said heading to the old Yankee Stadium for the first time was a special moment for him as a young player. He showed up early, walked around the stands, walked out in the outfield, soaking it all in.

That’s something that is missing from the new park. But, maybe a century from now, some Blue Jays manager will be asked about this Yankee Stadium, and maybe it too will one day be called a “dump” with nothing but history going for it.

OTHER ITEMS: Scott Downs (sprained toe left foot) threw again on Saturday, but there is still no timetable for his return from the disabled list. “He feels good. That’s about all I can tell you. He feels good and hopefully he gets back before the All-Star break. If not, we’ll just suck it up until then.” … Not sure if you’ve noticed, but Jays lefty Brian Tallet has taken to flapping his glove a little before delivering a pitch lately. Gaston noticed a while back that Tallet would only do it on certain pitches — perhaps tipping hitters off as to what he was throwing. So, Tallet has started doing it all the time to hopefully eliminate the problem. … Third baseman Scott Rolen enters today riding a 20-game hitting streak. He’s hit .415 (34-82) with a .449 on-base, a .610 slugging, three homers, seven doubles, 12 RBIs and 16 runs over the streak. Within those 20 games, Rolen has 11 multi-hit games and three three-hit showings.

ALL-STARS: The All-Star teams will be revealed on Sunday, with 32 of the 33 roster spots being announced for the AL and NL squads. Deserving to go for the Jays: Roy Halladay, Aaron Hill, Marco Scutaro, Adam Lind and Scott Rolen. Halladay is the only lock and Hill will have a good shot if Ian Kinsler of the Rangers wins the popular vote. Stay tuned…

Today’s lineups:

Thumbnail image for BlueJays.jpgTORONTO BLUE JAYS (42-39)
Fourth place AL East, 7.0 GB

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

Starter: RHP Doc Halladay (10-2, 2.56)

  Thumbnail image for Yankees.jpgNEW YORK YANKEES (46-33)
Second place AL East, 2.0 GB

1. Derek Jeter, SS
2. Johnny Damon, LF
3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Robinson Cano, 2B
6. Jorge Posada, C
7. Hideki Matsui, DH
8. Melky Cabrera, RF
9. Brett Gardner, CF

Starter: RHP Chien-Ming Wang (1-6, 10.06)

Don’t forget, you can follow me on Twitter: @MLBastian

~JB

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