Covering the Bases: Game 5
FIRST: 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.