Covering the Bases: Game 22

Hillbat.jpgFIRST: Jon Lester. I mean, what else is there to say after that 2-0 stinker against the Red Sox, really?

Seven innings. One hit. 11 strikeouts.

Blue Jays: baffled.

“That’s the best I’ve seen him,” said Aaron Hill. “He just absolutely dominated us tonight — that’s the bottom line.”

That said…

“You don’t want to give him too much credit, because he’s an opposing pitcher,” Hill added. “There’s no excuse for a one-hit, two-hit — whatever it was.”

And that’s more to the point, because it hasn’t just been Lester. The Jays have now gone 17 innings without a run, their longest skid since being blanked 31 frames in a row from May 9-12, 2008.

This after Toronto pounded out 12 runs on 16 hits in a loss to the Sox on Monday night. Jays have now dropped five games in a row and are in fourth place in the East.

Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston always has a way of sifting through the wreckage and pulling out the positives…

“The way we’re losing is certainly not as bad as you think,” Gaston said. “You don’t want to get beat up out there every night. Our guys have been keeping us in the game and giving us a chance to win. If we can just stay at the same pace, then we’ve got a chance to win some games. We’ve just got to score some runs. That’s all.”

SECOND: You’ve got to love it when a guy admits he was out for a little revenge.

Last May, Cecil was absolutely drilled in a brief appearance at Fenway Park, where Boston slugged five homers off the young lefty. In two losses to the Red Sox in 2009, Cecil allowed 12 runs over nine innings with seven homers surrendered.

Was that showing on his mind when he took the hill Wednesday?

“Absolutely,” Cecil said. “Nobody gets tore up like that last year and doesn’t look for a little extra something against the team.”

Cecil delivered with a strong performance against the Sox in the spring and he followed it up with a solid six-inning outing on Wednesday. The lefty scattered five hits and allowed one run.

“I feel like I’ve gained a little bit of their respect this year,” Cecil said of the Sox.

THIRD: That bring us to the fact that Cecil — despite his performance — was pegged with a big “L.” But, Blue Jays fans are growing accustomed to seeing such results by now, right? Consider this…

Through 22 games, Toronto’s rotation has turned in 14 quality starts (at least six innings pitched with three runs or fewer allowed), posting a 2.13 ERA in those outings. Nine of those starts have resulted in a loss or a no-decision for the starter.

Said Cito: “I guess the only thing we can take out of it is hopefully our hitters know that if we can go out and get four or five runs, we have a chance to win with the way these guys are pitching. It’s just one of those things. We’re just not driving in any runs or getting any hits right now.”

HOME: There’s got to be a silver lining in here. Let’s look to the eighth and ninth inning. Josh Roenicke logged his first inning of the year for the Jays and blanked Boston and struck out two in the eighth. Rommie Lewis made his big league debut in the ninth with a shutout frame of his own. (Pay no attention to the run Casey Janssen allowed in the seventh, making it 19 runs allowed by the Jays’ bullpen over its last 14 innings of work)

EXTRAS: Only three times over the course of Toronto’s first 21 games did Gaston use a pinch hitter. In the eighth on Wednesday, Gaston used three pinch hitters in a row: lefties Adam Lind, Fred Lewis and Travis Snider to face righty Daniel Bard with a runner on second base. So much for that idea, though. All three struck out in order.

~JB

4 Comments

In 10 or so years from now, when Cecil hangs it up, he should remember the day he cut his finger, slicing up chicken breast, as the day he solidified his career as a major league pitcher. That incident, which I’m sure flustered Cecil at the time, forced him to throw only fastballs and his new pitch, the change up, which Walton has been pushing to all the young pitchers who’ve all had great success with it.
It was exactly the medicine needed and gave Cecil that extra arrow in his quiver and the confidence to go out there and face a line up who annihilated him last season…
The results speak for themselves and yes, we just got swept, but imo, we also just solidified a starter who at 23 shows the poise and skill of a steely eyed veteran who will only grow and improve from here and be in our rotation for a long, long time.

So far ever 5th day, I’ve made a post on Henderson Alvarez’s start the day before. Today is no different and I expect each time he goes this year will be the same.
Last night, Alvarez faced the Tampa Bay Yankees, went 5.1 innings, gave up 6 hits, struck out 5, with 8 go’s and 2 fo’s, to lower his year to date era to a microscopic .37 with a whip of .90.

In 4 starts, 24.1 innings, Alvarez has only give up 1 earned run and his win/loss record is now 3-0.

I guess the other bright side of this is that 16 of the 17 scoreless innings were against Papelbon, Buchholz, and Lester, and they all brought out their A game. A tip of the hat to them.

Hitting with RISP is still a problem, but the only way you learn to hit with RISP is to go out there and hit with RISP. Go do it.

I wonder if the present bullpen woes stem from the fact that The Jays had a ton of pitchers in camp this Spring. Most of the relievers only threw 4-5 innings, so they may be going through a dead arm phase. Nice problem to have, really. Pitch through it.

So what happens when Tallet comes back? I would like to see Tallet in the bullpen and Cecil starting. However, we all know that Cito is big on a player not loosing their position due to injury. Unless there is an injury to another starter, I am afraid Cecil gets sent down.

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