July 2010

Game 89 lineups: Red Sox at Jays

BOSTON AT TORONTO
at 1:07 p.m. ET, Rogers Centre

RedSoxRetro.gifRED SOX (50-37, 5.0 GB AL EAST)
1. Marco Scutaro, SS
2. Darnell McDonald, CF
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
5. Adrian Beltre, 3B
6. J.D. Drew, RF
7. Bill Hall, 2B
8. Daniel Nava, LF
9. Kevin Cash, C

Pitching: Daisuke Matsuzaka (5-3, 4.71)

Thumbnail image for BlueJaysRetro.gifBLUE JAYS (44-44, 11.5 GB AL EAST)
1. Fred Lewis, LF
2. Alex Gonzalez, SS
3. Jose Bautista, RF
4. Vernon Wells, CF
5. Adam Lind, DH
6. Aaron Hill, 2B
7. Lyle Overbay, 1B
8. John Buck, C
9. Edwin Encarnacion, 3B

Pitching: Jesse Litsch (0-3, 7.30)

–JB

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Home Run Leader: Not Included

BauTrot.jpgJose Bautista was just waiting for a phone call. He was ready with his answer: “Why, yes, I would be thrilled to take part in the Home Run Derby.”

That call never came.

On Saturday, the American League field for Monday’s State Farm Home Run Derby was set with Nick Swisher of the Yankees getting the final spot.

So here are your AL participants:

Miguel Cabrera, DET: 21 homers
Vernon Wells, TOR: 19 homers
David Ortiz, BOS: 17 homers
Nick Swisher, NYY: 14 homers

Jose Bautista? 24 homers.

Bautista’s total leads the Major Leagues and his solo shot in the eighth inning on Saturday was his third in the past four games. Was he surprised to not even be asked by the league if he would take part?

“A little bit,” Bautista said with a shrug. “But it’s nothing I can control.”

Bautista has a quiet personality and that comment is as close as he would ever come to saying publicly that not being considered was disrespectful. Ortiz — on the visitors’ side for this series in Toronto — has never been one to shy away from his thoughts, though.

Here’s what Big Papi had to say on Friday:

“The guy that I’m really worried about is not even in the Derby — Bautista, man. Come on, man. How is he not in the Derby? You need to start a campaign about him being in the Derby. He’s the home run leader. It’s a joke. He has to be there — he’s the leader. I don’t care, have two Blue Jays in there. If he wants to be in, he has to be in — I don’t care what anybody says.”

Would having two players from the Jays be ideal? Maybe not. And having one of those players be Bautista — let’s be honest, someone the average sports fan probably does not know much about — would not help matters. But, isn’t that what the All-Star Game is supposed to be about? Showcasing the best players on a national stage?

Players around baseball are aware of Bautista’s ability. If they weren’t, he would not have earned a spot on the American League All-Star team through player balloting. Since being given the chance to play every day — an opportunity he received beginning last September with the Jays — Bautista has thrived.

“He’s taken full advantage,” Wells said.

Let’s stack up Bautista against some of the game’s premiere power hitters. Dating back to the start of last September, here is how Bautista ranks when compared to some of the top sluggers in the game today:

Jose Bautista, TOR: 34 home runs
Prince Fielder, MIL: 29 home runs
Albert Pujols, STL: 27 home runs
Ryan Howard, PHI: 25 home runs
Adam Dunn, WAS: 25 home runs
Paul Konerko, CWS: 25 home runs
Josh Hamilton, TEX: 24 home runs
Kevin Youkilis, BOS: 23 home runs
Mark Reynolds, ARI: 23 home runs
David Ortiz, BOS: 23 home runs

“I don’t know if anybody could’ve predicted what he’s doing,” said Blue Jays catcher and fellow All-Star John Buck. “It seems like whenever he swings it’s either lined right at somebody, or it goes over the fence or he walks. I think you’d take that every time.

“I’m sure you guys hear him say he’s a line drive hitter, but he creates so much bat speed that those backspin line drives obviously become home runs.”

It’s the type of swing that could have played well in the Derby.

“I’d be thrilled to do it,” Bautista said.

Sure, maybe the Home Run Derby is glorified batting practice, but it was a chance for Bautista to take to the stage and show off what he has been doing for the Blue Jays all season. Maybe when Wells’ turn comes up, the center fielder will walk over to Bautista and hand over his bat.

How cool would that be?

–JB

Game 88 lineups: Red Sox at Jays

BOSTON AT TORONTO
at 1:07 p.m. ET, Rogers Centre

RedSoxRetro.gifRED SOX (50-36, 5.0 GB AL EAST)
1. Marco Scutaro, SS
2. Daniel Nava, LF
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
5. Adrian Beltre, 3B
6. J.D. Drew, RF
7. Mike Cameron, CF
8. Bill Hall, 2B
9. Gustavo Molina, C

Pitching: John Lackey (9-4, 4.40)

Thumbnail image for BlueJaysRetro.gifBLUE JAYS (43-44, 12.5 GB AL EAST)
1. Fred Lewis, LF
2. Alex Gonzalez, SS
3. Jose Bautista, RF
4. Vernon Wells, CF
5. Adam Lind, DH
6. Aaron Hill, 2B
7. Lyle Overbay, 1B
8. Edwin Encarnacion, 3B
9. Jose Molina, C

Pitching: Brandon Morrow (5-6, 4.69)

–JB

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Game 87 lineups: Red Sox at Jays

BOSTON AT TORONTO
at 7:07 p.m. ET, Rogers Centre


RedSoxRetro.gifRED SOX (49-36, 5.0 GB AL EAST)

1. Marco Scutaro, SS
2. Darnell McDonald, LF
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
5. Adrian Beltre, 3B
6. J.D. Drew, RF
7. Mike Cameron, CF
8. Bill Hall, 2B
9. Kevin Cash, C

Pitching: Jon Lester (10-3, 2.76)

Thumbnail image for BlueJaysRetro.gifBLUE JAYS (43-43, 11.5 GB AL EAST)
1. Fred Lewis, LF
2. Alex Gonzalez, SS
3. Jose Bautista, RF
4. Vernon Wells, CF
5. John Buck, C
6. Aaron Hill, 2B
7. Lyle Overbay, 1B
8. Edwin Encarnacion, 3B
9. Jose Molina, DH

Pitching: Ricky Romero (6-5, 3.39)

–JB

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Game 86 lineups: Twins at Jays

MINNESOTA AT TORONTO
at 7:07 p.m. ET, Rogers Centre



TwinsRetro.jpgTWINS (45-39, 1.5 GB AL CENTRAL)

1. Jason Repko, CF
2. Orlando Hudson, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, DH
4. Michael Cuddyer, 1B
5. Delmon Young, LF
6. Jason Kubel, RF
7. Danny Valencia, 3B
8. J.J. Hardy, SS
9. Drew Butera, C

Pitching: Scott Baker (8-6, 4.43)

Thumbnail image for BlueJaysRetro.gifBLUE JAYS (42-43, 11.5 GB AL EAST)
1. Fred Lewis, LF
2. Alex Gonzalez, SS
3. Jose Bautista, RF
4. Vernon Wells, CF
5. Adam Lind, DH
6. Aaron Hill, 2B
7. Lyle Overbay, 1B
8. Edwin Encarnacion, 3B
9. Jose Molina, C

Pitching: Brett Cecil (7-5, 4.19)

–JB

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Off-day Odds & Ends

Drabek.jpgRoy Halladay pitched a perfect game earlier this year for the Phillies. Now, Kyle Drabek has a no-hitter for the Blue Jays. Turns out both sides did all right in that trade.

On Sunday, Drabek completed his no-no for Toronto’s Double-A affiliate in New Hampshire en route to a 5-0 win over New Britain. It was the first nine-inning no-hitter in Fisher Cats history.

“We had a packed house tonight,” Drabek told MLB.com’s Alex Raskin. “Having them cheer in the ninth, I’ve never pitched through something like that before.”

Drabek was acquired from the Phillies, along with prospects Michael Taylor and Travis d’Arnaud in exchange for Halladay in December. Toronto then flipped Taylor to the A’s in order to obtain highly-touted prospect Brett Wallace. Drabek could be in the mix for a rotation spot with the Jays at the start of the 2011 season.

Some no-notes:

–Drabek finished with two walks and three strikeouts and had 13 groundouts against 10 flyouts.

–He lost his bid for a perfect game in the fifth inning when he walked New Britain’s Erik Lis. The right-hander quickly erased the baserunner with a double play.

–Drabek retired 12 in a row to open the game and he retired 12 in a row to end it. It was a pair of walks in the fifth inning that broke things up in the middle.

–Drabek’s father, Doug won the 1990 National Cy Young Award for the Pirates and came one out away from a no-hitter on Aug. 3 of that season.

–This marked the first nine-inning no-hitter in the Eastern League since Erie’s Thad Weber accomplished the feat on Aug. 22, 2009 against Akron.

–The last no-hitter for New Hampshire (seven innings) came on June 28, 2004, when Jamie Vermilyea accomplished the feat against… that’s right, New Britain.

–Drabek does not boast the only July 4 no-hitter in Eastern League history. Trenton’s Brett Smith pulled one off against Altoona in 2007. The difference? That game was only five innings.

——————————————————-

MORE ON MARCUM:

What is unique about Shaun Marcum’s stint on the disabled list is that he will only miss one start for the Blue Jays, if the club brings him back as soon as he is eligible. With today’s off-day, the All-Star break and then a resetting of the rotation, Marcum has more than two weeks to rest before possibly rejoining the staff.

“That’s kind of the way we looked at it,” Marcum said. “It’s a way for us to go on the DL, only miss one start and get 18 days off, if you go back to the day I pitched last and to the day that I’ll pitch after the All-Star break. To only miss one start while on the DL, it’s something that we felt it was a good time to do it.”

The Jays could roll out four other starters before activating Marcum for a start against the Royals on July 20. Know that Marcum will do everything he can to get ready for that outing, considering it’s in hiw hometown of Kansas City, allowing lots of family and friends to head on down to watch his start.

Marcum has not picked up a baseball yet, but indicated on Sunday that his arm was already feeling better. He noted that the minor soreness in his elbow only occurred between starts, but he felt it was good to alert the club. Marcum said he experienced a similar thing last year during his rehab from elbow surgery, saying it was caused by a breaking up of scar tissue.

“I took like a week off, I think it was, and I came back and it was fine,” Marcum said. “It’s pretty much the same thing that we’ve got going on now. I read something on the internet where Roy Oswalt got shocked by a car and that cleaned all the scar tissue out of his arm.

“Maybe I’ll do that,” he joked. “I’ll just go stick my hand in an engine or something.”

Rest will do just fine for now…

——————————————————-

EDWIN MANS UP:

A lot of negative reactions flooded my Twitter feed during and in the wake of the 10th inning of Sunday’s loss to the Yankees. The focus of fans’ anger was third baseman Edwin Encarnacion, who did not sprint immediately out of the batter’s box on a failed bunt attempt at a critical point in the game.

With two runners on bases in the top of the 10th, Encarnacion — in his second game back from a stint with Triple-A Las Vegas — tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt. He popped it up and, right off the bat, thought it was going foul. Instead, it bounced fair and New York third baseman Alex Rodriguez charged in, scooped up the ball and turned a double play.

At the back end, Encarnacion was thrown out by half a step.

Even manager Cito Gaston wondered why Encarnacion did not hustle out of the box.

“I was watching the other part of the play,” Gaston said. “They tell me he was standing there. I think that’s something you guys should go ask him about. I certainly will address it with him and find out why he was standing there instead of running.”

Well, we did ask Edwin and he took responsibility.

“I thought it was going to go foul, that’s why I didn’t start running from the beginning,” Encarnacion said. “He made a good play. But I’m supposed to go — start running from the beginning.”

Good enough for me. Encarnacion owned up to what essentially was a mental lapse. It happens. Even after his explanation, though, it was not enough for some Jays fans. Part of this stems from a perception that his recent demotion was some sort of punishment for a lack of hustle earlier this season.

I’m not sure where that came from. That is not why the Blue Jays sent Encarnacion down and, believe me, if the offense had not tanked of late, and Jarrett Hoffpauir performed a little better while filling in at third, Encarnacion would still be down in Triple-A working on his hitting and defense right now.

——————————————————-

FLU BUG GOING AROUND

After Sunday’s game, us reporters waited outside the clubhouse before receiving the go-ahead to go inside for our postgame interviews. As we waited, center fielder Vernon Wells walked out, already in his street clothes, and headed slowly down the tunnel looking obviously ill.

Wells was out of the lineup originally as a way to just give him a day off.

“It started as a day off,” Gaston said. “Then it became clear that I couldn’t use him. He was too sick. Something’s going around.”

Also sick was second baseman Aaron Hill, who received fluids intravenously at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, according to Gaston. The manager said Hill did not get to the park until late in the game and was going to stay overnight in New York and hopefully fly back to Toronto on today’s off-day.

——————————————————-

CITO WEIGHS IN ON STRASBURG

Prior to Sunday’s All-Star roster announcement, Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston chimed in on one of baseball’s biggest debates at the moment. Asked if he thought Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg deserved a spot on the National League All-Star team, Gaston said no.

“He’s going to make a lot of them, so I would say no,” Gaston said. “He doesn’t have that many numbers or the time that the other guys have. He’s going to pitch in a lot of them.”

Gaston then paused and smiled.

“More than he probably wants to,” he added jokingly.

As it turned out, Strasburg was not named to the NL’s All-Star roster.

——————————————————-

QUOTABLE:

“I told my wife, ‘I’ve got bad news. We’re going to have to cancel the Niagara Falls trip.’ Hopefully she forgives me.” –Blue Jays catcher John Buck, after finding out he made his first All-Star team

STAT OF THE DAY:

Jose Bautista hit 49 home runs over his first 1,656 career at-bats in the big leagues, or one per 33.8 at-bats on average. Since then, dating back to Sept. 7 of last season, Bautista has hit 31 homers in 382 at-bats, or one per 12.3 at-bats on average.

——————————————————-

NOTE: After spending nearly two weeks on the road — avoiding the G-20, witnessing a four-game sweep at the hands of the Indians, covering three afternoon games in the Bronx and taking in some Fourth of July fireworks over the Hudson — I beg you to forgive me for taking the next two games off. I’ll catch you from the ballpark on Thursday.

~JB

All-Stars, Game 83 lineups: Jays at Yanks

2010JaysAllStars.jpg

Your 2010 Blue Jays All-Stars

———————————————————————

TORONTO AT NEW YORK
at 1:05 p.m. ET, Yankee Stadium

Thumbnail image for Tlogo.gifBLUE JAYS (41-41, 9.0 GB AL EAST)
1. Fred Lewis, LF
*2. DeWayne Wise, CF
3. Alex Gonzalez, SS
4. Jose Bautista, RF
5. Adam Lind, DH
6. Edwin Encarnacion, 3B
7. Lyle Overbay, 1B
8. Jose Molina, C
*9. John McDonald, 2B

Pitching: Brandon Morrow (5-6, 4.50)

Thumbnail image for Yankees.jpgYANKEES (49-31, — GB AL EAST)
1. Derek Jeter, DH
2. Nick Swisher, RF
3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Robinson Cano, 2B
6. Jorge Posada, C
7. Curtis Granderson, CF
8. Brett Gardner, LF
9. Ramiro Pena, SS

Pitching: Phil Hughes (10-2, 3.58)

*2B Aaron Hill out with a stomach virus; CF Vernon Wells given a day off.

~JB

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The Bottom of the Third

15 Yankee batters
11 runs
7 hits
4 walks
1 homer
1 hit by pitch
1 wild pitch
1 ball lost in sun
57 pitches
39 minutes

Ties Jays club record for runs allowed in one inning

Last time: Aug. 6, 1979 vs Kansas City

~JB

Game 82 lineups: Jays at Yankees

TORONTO AT NEW YORK
at 1:05 p.m. ET, Yankee Stadium

Thumbnail image for Tlogo.gifBLUE JAYS (41-40, 8.0 GB AL EAST)
1. Nick Green, DH
2. Alex Gonzalez, SS
3. Jose Bautista, RF
4. Vernon Wells, CF
5. John Buck, C
6. Aaron Hill, 2B
7. Lyle Overbay, 1B
8. Edwin Encarnacion, 3B
9. John McDonald, LF

Pitching: Ricky Romero (6-4, 2.83)

Thumbnail image for Yankees.jpgYANKEES (48-31, — GB AL EAST)
1. Derek Jeter, SS
2. Nick Swisher, DH
3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Robinson Cano, 2B
6. Jorge Posada, C
7. Curtis Granderson, CF
8. Chad Huffman, RF
9. Brett Gardner, LF

Pitching: Andy Pettitte (9-2, 2.72)

~JB

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Blue Jays shuffle the deck

Here are today’s roster moves by the Blue Jays:

FROM TRIPLE-A LAS VEGAS:

3B Edwin Encarnacion (contract selected), LHP Marc Rzepczynski (recalled)

TO TRIPLE-A LAS VEGAS:

3B Jarrett Hoffpauir (optioned)

TO 15-DAY DISABLED LIST:

RHP Shaun Marcum (right elbow inflammation)

TO FREE AGENCY:

OF Jeremy Reed (outrighted; refused assignment)

ANALYSIS:

In a perfect world, Hoffpauir would have hit better out of the gates in his first stint with the Blue Jays, giving Encarnacion more time to work on his consistency at the plate and in the field at Triple-A. Unfortunately for the Jays, the entire offense has gone missing and Hoffpauir was not contributing much with the bat.

The fact that Encarnacion hit well with Vegas (.438 in seven games) should not surprise anybody. It’s a hitters’ league and he’s got legitimate power. It’s those five errors (granted, I didn’t see them to guage them accurately) that create more concern for me. With the Jays’ offense tanking, though, promoting EE makes sense.

The Jays do not seem to believe that Marcum’s injury is anything that should cause much concern. They feel, with the All-Star break, it’s a good time to give him some rest if he’s complaining of some mild soreness. So, Rzepczynski gets a look and maybe he stays if Jesse Litsch continues to be inconsistent.

The Jays needed to outright Reed to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Encarnacion. If you remember, Encarnacion was designated for assignment, cleared waivers and then outrighted to Vegas. Jays said it was a paperwork move to clear a spot for RHP Scott Richmond, who had been on the 60-day DL. Richmond, as it turns out, is currently on the 7-day DL in the Minors. Reed chose not to accept the assignment to see what other jobs might be out there.

~JB

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