Covering the Bases: Game 36


SniderTrot.jpgFIRST:
Travis Snider continues to pull himself out of his early-season slump. That was a big storyline within this 10-game road trip for the Jays.

While Aaron Hill and Adam Lind have struggled, Snider has been picking up some of the slack. On the trip, he hit .382 with five doubles a homer and six runs, reaching base in nine games.

In Wednesday’s 3-2 win, Snider accounted for all of the offense with an RBI double in the fifth and a two-run homer in the seventh. Both hits came against Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.

Snider said he began using a heavier bat after grounding out in his first meeting with Wakefield in the third inning. Snider wanted to try something — anything — to counter Wake’s 65 mph pitch. The adjustment worked and Snider and the rest of the Jays now have an off-day to help put facing Wakefield further in the past.

More on Snider on bluejays.com on Thursday.

SECOND: Last night, I suggested that Wednesday seemed like a good time to give Hill and Lind a day off. Manager Cito Gaston agreed about Lind (.086 on road trip), sitting him and giving Randy Ruiz a start as the DH. Hill (.154 on the trip) was still in the lineup, but at the last minute was pulled and John McDonald got the start at second.

Hill was pulled due to tightness in his right hamstring. Before the game, Hill said the injury was not giving him any issues. Gaston also noted that Hill hadn’t complained about it at all. Following the game, Gaston said Hill admitted that it was bothering him a little, but the second baseman again told reporters that he was fine.

So, consider Hill day to day. And expect him back in the lineup on Friday.

THIRD: When Roy Halladay was with the Blue Jays, one of his best traits was righting the ship after a tough loss. Now, this is admittedly a small sample size, but Shaun Marcum is 2-0 with a 1.77 ERA in three starts following a Toronto loss this season. That’s the kind of production the Jays want from their No. 1.

Against the Red Sox, Marcum said he did not boast his best changeup. Instead, he got ahead with curveballs, used a strong cutter and a well-located four-seamer to fashion seven shutout innings. After Jays starters issued 18 walks over 16 1/3 innings over the past four games, Marcum’s outing was a breath of fresh air.

HOME: The Jays did not escape Fenway without some drama. In the ninth inning, homeplate ump Dale Scott called slugger David Ortiz out on strikes — on a pitch that was caught well outside. That resulted in the inning’s second out instead of a walk that would’ve put two runners on base with Boston down, 3-1.

Ortiz was asked later if he reviewed the replay: “I don’t want to. I don’t have to. Thank God I wasn’t hitting right-handed, because that would have hit me in the ribs.” Adrian Belte also had a similar call go against him in the subsequent at-bat, leading to Boston manager Terry Francona being ejected for arguing.

Beltre then singled to center to cut Toronto’s lead to one run. Gregg got out of it, collecting his 10th save, but some debatable calls definitely helped the Blue Jays’ cause in that final frame. Toronto departs Boston coming off a 7-3 road trip and the Jays are now 13-6 away from home this year.

~JB

6 Comments

Marcum has had a quality start in 7 of 8 appearances this season, the same as Halladay. Nice.

I agree with you Jordon that Aaron Hill needed a day off but we must not forget he has played every day (19 days straight) since coming off the DL and until Monday he had played well in the field. Also it is not only Aaron struggling at the plate this year (watched Yankee game last night and they were complaining about Jeter not hitting too).So lets give Aaron a chance and I know he will get his timing back and start hitting home runs soon and it is only May so he has lots of time to get 20 or more homers.

IMO, calls were missed on both sides in this series and are always part of the game. Only Boston and New York feel that all close calls should go in their favor and they whine like a bunch of stuck pigs when one actually goes against them, particularly Ortiz with special training from Youkilis-da master of the whine in the AL.

Marcum has always been a great starter and when he originally became a starter actually had better performances than Doc for some time. So I never doubted, providing he was healthy and 100% back, that he’d perform at the high level he’s performing at.

The misconception on Snider-Moonraker is he’s now starting to hit. The real difference is the ones he’s hitting are starting to drop in now, unlike April. His babip in April was ridiculously low and still is, although now its only about 70 points low versus 200+ in April. His BA really should now be at around .280-.290-all things being equal.
However, I don’t think any 22 year old has ever manhandled Wakefield like Moonraker did yesterday and although I love the story on the heavier bat, I think it’s all about his growing confidence we’re now seeing every single at bat.
It helps when some you scorch actually turn into doubles instead of loud outs as they were in April. Makes one realize the baseball Gods taketh away but they also giveth back from time to time.
Watching Moonraker grow into the monster player we all expect he’ll become is one of the most enjoyable reasons to watch the Blue Jays right now, along with Romero and Cecil turning into bonifide top starters.

My original thoughts on Snider were that they were pitching him very carefully, and that he would eventually let more bad pitches go by, and his walks and OBP would go up. This isn’t the case, however. While he is hitting .395 over his last 10 games, compared to .232 for the season, his SO + BB per AB is only a tiny fraction less for his last 10 compared to the season(.3 in last 10; .333 on the season).

So, his recent success comes with what what he is doing with the other 2/3 of his at bats. IMHO, however, luck doesn’t play into it. He is definitely getting better swings , and squaring up on the ball better, so instead of chopping it into the ground or hitting a fly ball out, he is driving it past people and over their heads to the gaps.

The stat I find really strange this year is that he is hitting .350 against lefties, compared to .207 against right handers, when last year they wouldn’t let him hit against lefties. Maybe lefties think they can get him out and come right after him, whereas righties are more cautious and pitch around him. I dunno.

Actually, Yerouttaheah, that report, which I thank you for posting the link to, confirms what I posted. His BABIP in April was .157 in April confirming a lot of balls he hit were right at someone, whereas in May it’s .464 and now .262 ytd. The post also points out Snider’s career BAPIP is .313, so his year to date numbers still have room to go up.

The thing where I feel he’s really improved this year is maturity. Throughout most of April at least one time a game he’d smack a line drive, sometimes twice a game right at someone for an out..But he didn’t get frustrated like he did last year, he hung in there knowing sooner or later the pendulum had to shift and it is shifting in May and we’re seeing the results.

Snider has always hit lefties well, throughout his minor league career, so its not a surprise to me he continues that, which is why I questioned why we were sitting him against them.

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