Covering the Bases: Game 2
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.”