Covering the Bases: Game 4

MorrowHat.jpgFIRST: Brandon Morrow didn’t really want to go over the details about his first inning. I honestly can’t blame him.

Let’s review:

Four walks. Three runs. One hit. One hit batter. One strikeout. Thirty-six pitches.

Coming out of the dugout for the second inning, Morrow even tripped…

“… almost caught my teeth on the front step. I figured nothing else could go wrong.”

Not much else did go wrong, actually.

Morrow looked pretty sharp the rest of the way, minus what he admittedly called a “stupid pitch” to Miguel Tejada in the fifth inning. Why did he describe the offering as such?

“It was a changeup and I don’t throw changeups to right-handed hitters,” he said. “That’s why I called it a stupid pitch.”

He threw one other “stupid pitch,” too. That changed struck Adam Jones in the back.

“I should have shook him off,” said Morrow, referring to the times catcher John Buck called for the changeups in those situations.

Morrow might not have wanted to offer up much of an explanation for his first official inning as a starter for the Jays, but Buck offered his theory: “He was just excited. He was a little erratic. He couldn’t find his fastball. Personally, I think you can just chalk it up to excitement. New team. Opening Day.”

SECOND: Prior to the 7-6 comeback win, Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said Travis Snider had been working with hitting coach Dwayne Murphy on some swing tweaks. Murphy informed Snider that he was “going around the ball” with his swing, which was causing him to be late on pitches.

“If you go around the ball, it takes you a little longer to get to the ball,” Gaston said before the game. “I think if he can come up with a couple knocks, man, he’s going to be OK.”

What’d Snider do? How about 2-for-3 with a single in the second inning, a walk in the sixth and a game-tying double in the ninth that jump-started the game-deciding rally. Making things better for Snider was the fact that his last hit came against the left-handed Mike Gonzalez.

“We saw C.J. Wilson in Texas and he gave most of us lefties a good spin around in the box,” Snider said. “He kind of threw me off a little bit. I really worked hard with Dwayne today in the cage, trying to iron out the swing a little bit, and the results paid off in the game.”

THIRD: Might as well stick with the trend here for the third category. It’s been defense every day and today is no exception. Snider turned the wrong way on a would-be flyout in the fifth inning, gift-wrapping a double for Nick Markakis. The next batter, Tejada, sent that “stupid” changeup to left for the homer off Morrow. Lesson learned: “I can’t make any excuses on that — just make a better play.” In the eighth, the Jays sure missed the arm of second baseman Aaron Hill (out with a sore right hamstring). On a relay from center field, second baseman John McDonald made a weak throw to the plate, where Buck bobbled the ball. That gave the O’s a 6-5 lead. Fortunately, the lead was temporary.

HOME: Without Jason Frasor available — Gaston gave him the day off since he notched saves in each of the past two games — the Jays turned to Kevin Gregg for the save. Gotta say, he looked good. A 1-2-3 ninth inning with two strikeouts. The first 1-2-3 save for the Jays in four chances this season. On Frasor’s days off, Gaston said he will choose between Gregg and Scott Downs for saves based on matchups.





Morrow’s first inning was kind of like the first time I learned how to drive a standard shift. Terrible! I stalled over and over. I hurt my car like Morrow hurt the team. Eventually, it was smoother sailing after that, although I hope Morrow isn’t one of those awful first innings starters! Maybe that is why he failed as a reliever in Seattle?

Usually if the fastball isn’t there, it’s because they are trying to overthrow it. When young pitchers get in trouble, they try to throw harder, and the control goes West. They should watch some Mike Mussina video. When he got in trouble, he would take some off. That messes up a hitter’s timing just as much as throwing harder, and he could hit his spots better.

When you look at the way the Jays have scored in their first at bats this Spring, the first inning woes aren’t just confined to Brandon Morrow. He missed a couple of starts this Spring, so it may take a bit longer for him to round into form. I like the way he pulled himself together and stayed in the game, and he really has got wicked stuff. He was jerked around a bit in Seattle, bouncing back and forth between the bullpen and the rotation, and IMHO, once he settles in to his starting role, he will be just fine.

I can see Brandon leading the club in strikeouts this year, but he will throw a lot of pitches and may not go deep into games. Dana Eveland will have to eat some innings to keep the bullpen fresh.

I have to say, Jordan, that I don’t think John MacDonald’s arm is any worse than Hill’s. It was simply a bad throw, one that he would make 9 times out of 10.

I think Morrow’s shaky start was due to a number of things. He missed 2 starts in st, so he’s behind, opening day, new team, new team mates, new catcher and first start just got his nerves out of control. Give him another couple of starts and he’ll be fine.
The kids stuff is electric, touched 97 a few times on the gun with good late movement and a nasty slider. So when he gets his walks down and stays healthy, he will be extra special and be that ace we seek.
It’s easy to see why Morrow was rated along side Linecum with that power arm he’s got. I still can’t believe we got this talent for Brandon League-just an exceptional deal by AA.

I know MacDonald could have made a better throw, but the throw did arrive in time, Buck just didn’t catch it. The runner should have been out.Not to be negative, but, we had 3-4 passed balls yesterday and I think a few more in previous games, this blotched play today and both Molina and Buck are supposed defensive catchers..If Arencibia gets off to a reasonably hot start in Vegas, we might see him sooner that later if this stuff keeps up. The very last thing we need with a young pitching staff who put a lot of balls in the sirt are guys that can’t deal with it.
Good call by Cito to leave Macdonald in there and bunt Snider over.

In my opinion, I think with the way Brandon Morrow pitches, we can count on him for at best a solid 4 2/3 innings every fifth day. Great pitchers know how to keep their pitch count down, this guy reminds me of AJ Burnett the way he finds ways to let hitters get a good count to hit in. The best pitch in baseball is strike 1, I pray Morrow figures this out, because if not, its gonna be a long season for the relievers. Does he have great stuff? Absolutely. Its been one start, lets hope the next one is better and I am wrong about him.

@bastian and @yerouttaheah: Regardless of whoever’s playing second base, the throw should have been made.That being said, the 3rd base coach was reading the trajectory of Vernon’s throw. Janssen was looking sharp yet again so the Orioles looked to be aggressive on the bases with the speedy Pie on first. If Vernon makes an aggressive throw into the infield, the third base coach wouldn’t have waved Pie to try and score. McDonald gave his best effort and to his credit, he laid down a sac bunt the following inning.The @BlueJays aren’t going to win many boat races this year so pitching and defense are at a premium. Physical mistakes will always happen but they need to limit the mental mistakes such as Vernon’s hustle/throw if they want to win the close games.Watch the video game wrap

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