Welp. The bullpen let the Jays down again yesterday, provoking the anticipated piss-fest from the types of fans who can’t grasp how this year’s early struggles have nothing to do with last year’s, and that there are far higher quality pitchers for the Jays to rely on, and that everything is going to be totally fine back there.
Of course, the bullpen was hardly the only culprit in the loss. Manager John Farrell left Darren Oliver out there for a long time as the game was coming undone for the Jays. Smartly brought in to face lefty Nick Markakis, who got an it happens single, Oliver was left in to face right Adam Jones. While he could hardly be called a pitcher with reverse splits, Oliver has been effective against right-handers over the last couple of seasons, just not nearly as much as he has against lefties. Still, he got Adam Jones to strike out, and was allowed to continue against Matt Wieters– a switch hitting catcher who has had more success in his career as a right-hander against lefties than the other way around, especially so in his breakout 2011 season, where he OPS’d 1.124 against left-handers to .662 against righties.
Leaving Oliver in to face Wieters, who drew a walk, was a mistake. But one that still set the Jays up for some measure of success, as the left-handed Oliver forced the switch-hitter Wilson Betemit to bat from the right , where he holds a career .686 OPS. In hindsight, bringing in Casey Janssen to face Wieters may have been the better move, but the way Farrell played it wasn’t terribly egregious.
Of course, none of this would have been a concern if Brandon Morrow had been able to command his fastball, which he was leaving up all night, which resulted in home runs from Adam Jones and Robert Andino, plus a Nolan Reimold double that ended up producing the game’s first run on a Markakis sac fly. If Morrow pitches the way he could and should the bullpen issues are a moot point.
“It just felt like 50,000 people having my back,” says Colby Rasmus in a great feature by Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star, speaking about the sequence during last Monday’s Home Opener that saw him make a spectacular diving catch– receiving a standing ovation for it, at least in my section– then knock a triple down the line and eventually score the game’s first run.
Rasmus had perhaps the most impressive of the Jays’ four home runs last night, homering the opposite way and showing off the re-worked swing mechanics that the Jays are hoping will very soon make fans forget about the awful two months he put in at the end of last season.
If they were struggling I’d be the first to point out that it’s way too early to take anything seriously, but did it give me pleasure to watch three of the Jays most maligned hitters of 2011– Rasmus, Kelly Johnson, and Edwin Encarnacion– go deep last night? Yes, it did. Yes it very much did.
Actually… in the lead-up to the game I’m going to be one of those folks who is out and about, so I don’t have the lineups yet in front of me. I’m sure you’ll find them somewhere. On the pitching front, we know that it’s Henderson Alvarez (RHP) for the Jays versus Jason Hammel (Shitballer) for Baltimore’s Baltimore Orioles of Baltimora’s Tarzan Boy.