Covering the Bases: Game 5

Thumbnail image for Eveland.jpgFIRST:
Well, who saw that coming?

Dana Eveland was outstanding in his first start of the season. That, or the Orioles were just terrible. Let’s go ahead and say it was a combination of both.

Eveland — the fifth starter — became the first pitcher this season to work into the eighth inning for the Blue Jays. No one could have predicted that, but Eveland is hoping to show that it’s not a fluke.

“I hope to do that a lot of times this year,” he said.

What was working so well?

Try Eveland’s changeup. It’s a two-seam variety that has similar action to his sinker — just six or seven mph slower. Normally, Eveland said he would rely heavily on his curve, maybe using it 40 percent of the time. In this start, he estimated that he threw five or six curves total. He just kept going to the changup. Over. And over. And over.

The Orioles never adjusted and Eveland took advantage.

Said catcher Jose Molina: “When you have a team that is chasing a pitch, you just try to keep going with it until they show you that they can make the adjustment. Tonight, the Orioles didn’t make that adjustment on him and that’s why we took advantage of it.”

SECOND: Molina got the start behind the plate on Saturday because manager Cito Gaston wanted to save John Buck for Sunday’s finale. Buck has better numbers against O’s starter Kevin Millwood. The move worked, considering Molina accounted for two of Toronto’s three RBIs in the 3-0 win.

How Molina got those RBIs was interesting in itself, though. The Orioles decided to walk Travis Snider intentionally twice ahead of Molina, with two outs to load the bases in the fourth and with two outs to put runners on first and second in the sixth. Molina was hit by a pitch in the first situation and he drove home a run with a single the next time.

Molina’s best contribution was behind the plate, though.

“Jose’s great,” Eveland said, “because I’ll make a bad pitch or make a couple bad pitches and he’ll come out and be like, ‘Hey, get your arm up,’ or, ‘You flew open a little bit. Stay downhill.’ It’s little quick things that he pops into tmy brain and he gets me right back on cue, which is nice.”

THIRD: Any notice the play of shortstop Alex Gonzalez right now? The guy signed for his defense? Gonzalez has gone 6-for-18 at the plate with two home runs and three doubles — two doubles coming on Saturday. Yeah, sample size, I know. It’s early. But the Jays will gladly take offense like that from Gonzalez. He’s also been stellar at short. In the eighth, he made a great catch and throw on a 1-6-3 double play to end the inning. As much as I love Johnny Mac in the field, Gonzalez makes really difficult plays look so effortless.

HOME: The Blue Jays are 4-1 and in sole possession of first place in the American League East. Star printing those playoff tickets! Oh, what’s that? They’ve hit .195 (8-for-41) with runners in scoring position and have stranded the bases loaded in four of five games? The surprise so far is that the Jays’ pitching has been carrying the load early on. Aside from one-inning blips from Brandon Morrow and closer Jason Frasor, Toronto’s arms are the main reason this team is doing so well right now. Consider that there have been five save opportunities in five games.



It’s early days yet and there are still some holes in the lineup. You know Bautista and Hill aren’t going to struggle forever, and Overbay showed in Spring that he is healthy enough to swing the bat again. Snider is a work in progress, but he will hopefully show steady progress through the season. In the meantine, their D is keeping them in games.

First Star: Dana Eveland 7.1 IP, 5 Hits, 0 Runs

Second Star: Jose Molina 2 RBI, great fingers

Third Star: Lyle Overbay absolutely stellar glove work

Although, defense was good in yesterday’s games, it hasn’t been that great overall. Overbay made some nice plays yesterday as did EE-hope that continues. The team has already committed 4 errors and had 4-5 passed balls which I’d call errors as well. I assume the passed balls are as a result of catchers learning their pitchers, so hopefully that improves as does overall defense.

In addition, it hasn’t been hitting keeping us in the games either, with the exception of Wells home runs. The team line is now .240/.342/.467 and as Jordon pointed out risp is .195. In addition, that .342 obp is a bit misleading considering in one game our guys walked about 10 times.

The pitching is what’s got us to 4-1, particularly the starting pitching with 4 of 5 quality starts. Team era is 2.84 against what most consider to be strong batting lineups, so it has been particularly good. I still wonder whether something is wrong with Frasor because his velocity has dropped or whether it’s him switching to a 2 seamer which he isn’t yet comfortable with. Hope hes healthy.

However, these guys are really fun to watch and seem to be lose and enjoying the games more than in previous years. Let’s hope the hitting comes around sooner or later and although we probably won’t be able to say this all season, we can this morning: we’re in 1st place, 1 game up on TB and the Yanks and 2 up on the bean town boys and what’s not to like about that.

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