Covering the Bases: Game 2

WellsTrot.jpgFIRST: Is Vernon Wells back?

Through two games, the Jays center fielder has gone 5-for-7 with three homer, five runs scored and six RBIs. Oh, and he helped fund the construction of two homes for eight underprivileged families on his day off.

“It’s only two days,” Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston was quick to remind.

Maybe so. But it took Wells 17 games o reach three homers a year ago. It had been two seasons since he had a multi-homer game or homered in consecutive contests. You can already check those feats off the list for 2010.

Here’s what we know for sure. He had surgery on his left wrist and is feeling great. He looked strong all spring. And, we learned tonight that hitting coach Dwayne Murphy made a tweak to Wells’ swing at the end of the spring. Wells is bringing his hands back more, transferring his weight better, and is feeling very comfortable right now.

“[I have] a little more rhythm at the plate,” he said. “I can tell if I’m late. I can tell if I’m on time.”

And as far as being open and willing to take Murph’s advice?

“He tells me something and we go and work on it,” Wells said. “I’ll take as many swings as possible until I can’t swing the bat anymore. And we’ll start over again the next day.”

Is it early? Heck yes. But these are all good omens.

SECOND: There was a lot of criticism around the ol’ blogosphere (and in my inbox) about Brian Tallet being named the No. 2 starter. The Jays said a main reason was due to Tallet’s ability to eat up innings and the fact that he will take the ball in any situation, has experience, and has shown resilience after poor outings or innings.

Pretty sure Tallet exemplified all of that in his first start of the season. It wasn’t always pretty, especially when he allowed back-to-back, game-tying homers in the fourth to erase the 3-1 lead he was just handed. But, after that, Tallet set down 10 of 11 hitters. Did he walk three? Sure. But he also turned in 6 2/3 innings, struck out six and bridged the gap the late-inning relievers.

That’s precisely what the Jays are hoping to have from Tallet as long as he’s in the rotation.

THIRD: The error that third baseman Edwin Encarnacion made in the opener was iffy. I thought it could’ve been an infield single. The one he made on Wednesday night in the first inning? Yeah, ummm, right through the wickets. He’s now on pace for 162 errors. That’d be some sort of record. Obviously, EE won’t commit an error every night, but the three errors (two on one play in the seventh) that the Jays made as a whole this time around didn’t help Toronto’s cause at all in Game 2. Defense needs to show improvement.

HOME: Jason Frasor received a bit of redemption in the ninth inning. Wells’ second homer gave the Jays’ a three-run cushion, which was a great situation for Frasor in his first outing since Monday’s blown save. The closer gave up a leadoff double, but then retired the next three hitters to notch Save No. 1 in 2010. Frasor said his command was drastically better than in Monday’s debacle.

“No doubt about it,” Frasor said. “I located the fastball. I felt like I could put it anywhere. I just feel so much better when I have my changeup. I feel like I got a swing and miss on it. It just helps me so much when that’s working. It’s just two completely different pitchers.

There was also a completely different pitcher warming up in the bullpen while Frasor worked with the runner on second base. Gaston had Casey Janssen getting loose with one out. The manager said later that, “if that had got out of hand, I got Janssen up just in case.”

Was Frasor cool with that?

“I didn’t know Casey was warming up,” said Frasor, who sounded reacted with surprise when we told him Janssen was loosening up in the ninth.

Frasor was careful with how he responded.

“I hope they trust me,” he said. “I guess if I’m the manager, I might have somebody loose just in case. I don’t blame him for that. It worked out.”



You forgot to mention that Frasor is on pace for 81 saves.

Leave it to Cito. He talks about not wanting to break the hitters confidence by pinch-hitting in game breaking situations. Yet he has a guy like Ruiz on the bench, who has done nothing but hit, but in 2009 he would platoon Millar who was just awful. Then on top of it he’s warming up a pitcher on Frasor’s heels with 1 man on, talk about breaking confidence and having to look over your shoulder. What’s the point of Cito having a bench? Maybe he should have just brought up his 9 position players and 16 pitchers.
Gonna be a long season of bullpen and in game mismanagement.

Funny thing about having Janssen warming up with Frasor on the mound. Cito in his interview yesterday said the reason he didn’t pinch hit for Overbay or not play him against left handers is he was concerned it would affect his confidence-like it affected his confidence last year when Millar platooned for Overbay. lol
Please, if Overbay can’t handle being swapped out to win a game or improve the odds of winning, there’s a very simple answer-start doing something he hasn’t done in years- hit left handers.

He certainly didn’t have anyone warming up for Marcum when Marcum’s pitch count was already over 75 pitches and showed-even on tv, he was running out of gas. And it was Marcum’s first game in 1.5 years, he has only started in 65 games in his career and has never been a guy who went deep in pitch count.

And yet at a time when confidence is really important, he had someone warming up. When Frasor says “I hope they trust me,” he said.” you can tell it bothered him. Where is the consistency in decisions? And yet-I agree with this decision, I just don’t agree with the other ones.

Good start for Tallet, great game from Vernon and its nice to see Snider getting patient at the plate.

I was one of the first to call Frasor on his disaster after game 1, but I was impressed with his performance last night. My issue with Cito is, like many others, his inconsistency. How can a manager who sticks up for Overbay, who can’t hit lefties, when the world is calling for a pinch hit, but then be warming Janssen when Frasor is in a much more comfortable position this time around. Give Frasor the confidence he needs! If you’re going to stick up for one guy, stick up for them all! We’ll be happier with a failure every now and then, than with these games you seem to be playing.

I guess if you guys don’t know the difference between a position player and a bull pen pitcher, I have a bridge you might be interested in buying. As a bullpen pitcher, you go out there and throw as hard as you can for as long as you can, and you had better get used to getting the hook if you aren’t doing your job. That’s the way it is. Cito gave Frasor a mulligan on his first outing, but if Frasor had blown #2 and nobody was ready, you guys would have been howling about that, too.

Let me say something about Cito: yes, he photocopies his lineup cards. He sometimes seems to keep guys in too long. His philosophy is that you win more games in the long run if you don’t yank a guy every time he makes a mistake, with the idea that he can’t watch the ball and look over his shoulder at the same time. It must work, because he has a lifetime .561 win/loss ratio, and 2 rings. Even if the Jays lose 100 games this year, he will still retire as a winning manager, so let’s cut him some slack and watch him work.

What bothers me about Cito is that he says things like I want to leave player X in there so he can play for a contract. It’s what happened with Millar last year….uuhh shouldn’t his job be to put his team in the best possible situation to win and not worry about someone’s contract expiring ? Player X this year is Overbay and Cito has already said he’ll be starting against lefties which is ridiculous when you see the numbers that GS has posted before this. He shouldn’t be in the lineup today. Ruiz in my opininion should be in a platoon with him and should even get the odd start against righties as well.

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