Covering the Bases: Game 35

Hillfall.jpgFIRST: I know Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston does not buy into the whole day-off-to-clear-his-head philosophy for slumping players, but…

…it might be time to consider giving Aaron Hill a day off to clear his head. Wednesday would be as good a time as any: knuckleballer Tim Wakefield on the mound and an off-day on Thursday.

Hill’s offensive slump persisted in the form of an 0-for-4 showing during Tuesday’s 6-1 loss, but that was not the concerning development. On more than one play, while there won’t be any errors in the books to use as evidence, Hill looked shaky in the field.

Gaston was asked if Hill might be taking his slump out into the field with him.

“I hope not, because you do have to separate them,” Gaston said. “When you’re on defense, you play defense. When you’re on offense, you certainly deal with offense. I hope that’s not the case. He’s a kid that had a great year last year.

“The fact is that he did get hurt down in Texas [earlier this year] and ended up on the [disabled list]. We’ll just give him a little while and see what happens. I think he’ll battle his way back.”

Right now, Hill has hit .154 (6-for-39) through nine games on the Blue Jays’ current road trip. On the season, the All-Star second baseman has hit at a .181 clip. Hill simply has not looked like himself at the plate and, now, in the field. As much as Hill’s bat is integral to the Jays’ offense, he might benefit from a day off.

SECOND: Hill is not the only slugger slumping, either. During their recent stretch of seven wins in eight games, the Blue Jays managed to make up for the fact that Hill and Adam Lind — the two big backs of 2009 — were mostly absent. They helped in spurts here and there, but the fact is Hill and Lind have not been producing of late. On the current road trip, Lind has hit .086 (3-for-35). Combined, the pair has hit .122 on the trip. Perhaps Randy Ruiz should DH and John McDonald should get the nod at second against Wakefield on Wednesday.

THIRD: Dana Eveland has struggled a little against Boston over his career. Five starts: 16 1/3 innings, 31 earned runs, 35 hits, 15 walks. On Tuesday, the lefty gave up six runs on five hits with four walks over four-plus frames. Worth noting is the fact that Eveland has never lasted five innings in an outing against the Sox. Now, while this is all true, there were a handful of poor defensive plays that cost Eveland this time.

Travis Snider failed to catch a blooper down the right-field line, which led to a double for J.D. Drew in the first. A groundout and a sac fly later, Boston had two runs. In the fourth, a bloop single from Bill Hall dropped between three fielders in shallow left. Center fielder Vernon Wells picked it up and threw wildly beyond the reach of Hill at second. Two men on instead of a forceout at second base. One batter later, a double scored one more for the Sox. In the fifth? Try a wild pitch to score a run from third base. That’s an MLB-high 22 wild pitches now.

HOME: Obviously, there was not a whole lot of positives in this latest loss. And worth noting is the fact that Boston righty Daisuke Matsuzaka was particularly sharp, which did the Jays no favors. He worked seven innings, scattered three hits and allowed one run with nine strikeouts. Dice-K also had no walks. Yeah, you read that right. In 76 career starts, Dice-K has had zero walks in an outing just six times. This was his first no-walk game against the Jays.

Catch you from the Fens tomorrow.

~JB

2 Comments

I’m not gonna lie– today was kind of a puketastic day to be a Jays fan.

Here’s hoping Hill rights the ship.

From the looks of Litsch’s start last night in Dunedin, help is definitely on its way. Jessie went 7 innings, gave up 4 hits, 2 walks, struck out 5 and gave up no runs.
The 7 innings in his first rehab start was a surprise until one reviews his go/ao numbers which were 12 go’s and 3 fo’s, suggesting Jessie’s sinker is alive and working well.

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