Always Fun Beating the Yankees

In my last post, I was giving my views on the Jays series in Boston against the Red Sox.  My thought, given the pitching matchups, that the Jays should come out of the series at 2 and 2.  In the end, they ended up losing three of the four games at Fenway. After winning the first game Friday night (just), Jo Jo Reyes laid an egg on Saturday and the team really was never given a chance to win. Plus Josh Beckett shut down the Jays’ bats without too much difficulty. Sunday was a little more of the same. Jesse Litsch wasn’t terrible but a few bloop hits and a mistake cost him early and Jon Lester again silenced the Jays’ offence. 

I wasn’t too upset about the back to back losses against Beckett and Lester. The performance by Reyes was just painful to watch as he had no command of any of his pitches, couldn’t throw strikes and when he did get something over the plate, it was hit hard. 

I expected the Jays to get out of Boston with a split having Ricky Romero on the mound on Monday facing a struggling Daisuke Matsusaka. Instead it was Romero who struggled and Dice-K pitched great and the Jays got shelled again.

Not a great road trip in the least. They lost two of three in Anaheim, two of three in Seattle and then three and four in Boston.  As a reward, the Blue Jays got to travel home to the Rogers Centre for a two game set against the Yankees.

Last night’s game started off promising.  Jose Bautista homered off of A.J. Burnett in the bottom of the first giving the Blue Jays an early 1-0 lead. Kyle Drabek was holding his own after some trouble in the second inning against the formidable Yankees lineup.  The game turned in the sixth when with the score tied 2-2, Mark Teixeira took Drabek deep for a two-run shot giving the Yankess a 4-2 lead.  At this point I was participating in Rogers Sportsnet’s live gamecast and the live chat took an ugly turn at this point.  

Many of the fans participating in this on-line chat immediately decided that the Jays recent slump was continuing and that the 2011 season was lost. In summary, many of the conclusions being reached by these negative Nancys was that Adam Lind, Aaron Hill and Travis Snider were busts and needed to be moved out of town.  Some were suggesting that guys like Brett Lawrie, Eric Thames and Zach Stewart be called up immediately.  Others suggested that the Jays loosen the purse strings and get active on the free agent market this coming offseason. 

The Negative Nancys had pretty much written this game off heading into the bottom of the sixth but the Blue Jays mounted a bit of a rally. Aaron Hill lead the inning off with a single. He then stole second but injured his hamstring doing so and was removed from the game. After a Jose Molina pop-out and a Corey Patterson walk, Edwin Encarnacion doubled off of A.J. Burnett to bring the Jays within one run and runners on second and third with only one out.  It looked as if the Jays would at least tie the game or possibly take the lead but David Patterson, in relief of Burnett, struck out both Yunel Escobar and Travis Snider to end the threat.

This put the Nancys into a frenzy. Travis Snider was being compared to Eric Hinske and they were calling for him to be sent to Las Vegas.  Jason Frasor did not help things as after getting Jeter to ground out, he surrendered a solo home run to Curtis Granderson restoring the Yankees lead to two runs.  This was it, the game was over, AA didn’t know what he was doing, the Jays will never be a contender etc. etc.

The Yankees then went to their shut-down trio of relievers to close the game out.  Joba Chamberlain in the seventh got the Jays to go three up and three down.  Rafael Soriano came in the bottom of the eighth and despite a walk to Corey Patterson, retired the Jays with relative ease.  

After the Yankees were held off the board in the top of the ninth, the Yankees brought in Mariano Rivera. A two-run lead with perhaps the greatest closer the game has ever seen in the game. The Negative Nancies were ready to slam the coffin shut on the Jays. However, something very interesting happened.  Yunel Escobar doubled to lead off the inning. The Negative Nancys’ whipping boy, Travis Snider, grounded out to second advancing Escobar to third. Jose Bautista drew a walk but the last pitch squirted away from Russel Martin allowing Escobar to score from third. The Jays were within one run with one out. Adam Lind had a great at bat versus Rivera and finally singled to right allowing Bautista to go first to third.  The comeback was nearly complete. John MacDonald came up next and executed a perfect squeeze bunt up the first base line.  Teixeira charging in attempted to go home to get Bautista but his throw was too late and the Jays had tied it up.  The Jays then loaded the bases on a Jose Molina single to left. Brett Gardiner was playing shallow and got to the ball quickly so Butterfield held Lind at third. The bases were loaded with Corey Patterson at the plate who was hot of late but Rivera induced a double-play to end the inning.

The Negative Nancys were a little subdued at this point. There were a few comments stating that it was a nice comeback but if the Jays didn’t win, it would be a disaster. More comments just simply stated that because the Jays didn’t win it in the ninth, they were still going to lose the game.  However, Jon Rauch shut down the Yankees in the top of the tenth and things got started early in the bottom half of the inning when Edwin Encarnacion led off with a single off of Ivan Nova.  After a failed bunt attempt, Jayson Nix flied out to deep right and then Yunel Escobar flied out to deep centre bringing Travis Snider to the plate with two outs.  The Nancys were already writing off the inning. However, Travis silenced them all with a double to right centre scoring Encarnacion.  Game over, Jays win!     

This was a great win for the club. Yes they had a disasterous road trip which pretty much erased a good start at home.  However, nobody is running away with the east at the moment and the Jays are still in the mix. They have one more game with the Yankees before the red hot Rays come to town. From there, the Jays head out to Texas to face the AL Champs for four games, then to New York for a three game set to close out the month.  Not easy. If they manage to get out of this month around .500, it will be a decent start to the year in my opinion.  We’ll see.

The Jays finally activated Frank Francisco off the DL yesterday but in somewhat of a surprise move, they sent Jesse Litsch to Las Vegas. If this move was predicated on performance alone, it would be a huge surprise given what Jo Jo Reyes has shown us in 2011. However, Reyes is out of options so would have to clear waivers before he could be assigned to Vegas (much like David Purcey) and he would most likely be claimed. As a result, the Jays wanted to hang on to Reyes and give him a chance to rebound (they like his arm). 

Other roster moves are imminent as Brandon Morrow is ready to make his return to the lineup on Saturday.  Morrow’s return would likely see Luis Perez returned to Vegas.  Also, the Hill injury may lead to him going on the DL and if so, would result in the recall of Mike McCoy.  Scott Posednik is also ready to get back on the field and should be reporting to Las Vegas soon to get back into game shape. Rajai Davis is also nearing a return.  Then the question will be what happens to the outfield picture for the Blue Jays with Snider, Davis, Bautista, Rivera, Patterson and Posednik all healthy.  Based on performance, Rivera should be the odd man out but he carries a large salary and would be tough to deal and get anything in return.  Another option would be to buy Rivera out of his last year of his contract and release him.  If that doesn’t occur then a decision between Patterson and Posednik will have to be made.  Given the way Patterson has performed thus far, Posednik could be the odd man out. However, Posednik may not be quite healthy yet or suffer a setback in his recovery so no need to speculate as to his fate just yet.

Well hopefully the Jays take another from the Yankees tonight before jetting off to the Lonestar State. Bartolo Colon is making his first start as a Yankee against Brett Cecil who is coming off his best start of the season last Friday in Fenway.   


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