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TANAK!

Fuck Masahiro Tanaka has been good so far for the New York Yankees. And frankly, for their sake, he’s had to have been. The names in the lineup that you see below are certainly intimidating, but offensively the Yankees have struggled this year. So far. They’ve produced the third worst wRC+ of any American League team, and the Jays have four hitters with higher numbers in that stat than the Yankees’ best hitter, Mark Teixeira. There are six Blue Jays — Bautista, Lind, Encarnacion, Francisco, Cabrera, and Steve effing Tolleson! — who’ve produced more wRC+ than the Yanks’ second-best hitter.

Hey, but at least they’ve got terrible infield defence and the regression-due Chase Whitely going tomorrow night against Mark Buehrle, and a less-than-favourable matchup in Thursday’s series finale with David Phelps taking on Drew Hutchison, right?

Well, yeah. And yeah, they’re pretty old, so it’s not a given that some of those bats will heat up, but will all of Beltran, McCann, and Jeter continue to hover around 80 wRC+? Will they find some way to mortgage whatever prospects they can scrape together — prospects they don’t really need that in the same way the Jays do, since the Yankees fill their big league roster with free agents anyway — and find a piece that can help them keep clawing back the Jays’ division lead?

It’s not out of the question.

It’s still early. So many folks, in a dipshit rush to declare the Jays fucked and to satiate their need to be shitty, negative shits in peoples’ cuts, didn’t want to hear that last year, but it was as true at this point then as it is now. Fortunately for the 2014 Jays, as anyone remotely realistic fully acknowledged — another thing suckholes didn’t want to hear — having a long season ahead doesn’t mean that it’s not terrifically difficult to claw back a bunch of games.

Just don’t get swept. More than anything about “a big series” or a “statement” or anything like that… just don’t get swept.

That’s not to say that losing series’ is acceptable — obviously the Jays will have to keep doing better than that — but if the Jays lose all three the Yankees go from 4.5 back to within a game and a half, and but if the Jays win just one, the best the Yankees can do head into the weekend 3.5 games behind.

Yeah, it’s just simple math, but it’s also perspective.

And shit, with Marcus Stroman going into his home town, under the bright lights of Yankee Stadium, facing an almost hopeless task against one of the best pitchers in the world right now — though, it should be noted (as it was on Twitter several times early today by the Jays’ beat reporters), Tanka’s lone loss so far this year came in the only other game in which he was facing a team for a second time — why the hell couldn’t he pitch his ass off tonight? I’d believe it.

But even if they only win one of these three, even if it’s obviously not ideal, I can live with that.

Scuttlebutt

This Stroman-Tanaka matchup is baseball’s most watchable this evening — or so says Carson Cistulli of FanGraphs and his NERD Game Scores.

Not mentioned (at least not by me in the earlier Delabar item) was the fact that John Gibbons mentioned today that R.A. Dickey is fine. He, of course, left his last start early due to a leg or groin thing or something. I don’t know. Everything’s been a blur since Holland 5 – Spain 1, honestly.

Another thing not mentioned here: Sergio Santos has been activated, and Darin “Pat” Mastroianni has been optioned back to Buffalo. No, really! It happened! (Unless it was a DFA, but I don’t think so.)

did mention, though, that Cecil could go “in a pinch” today, while Lind will hopefully only need a couple of days. And Colby Rasmus is getting real close, too. “It could be any day,” Anthopoulos says, according to a tweet from Brendan Kennedy. So that’s not bad.

“Why not DL Lind and call up Dan Johnson? Why Kawasaki over Goins? ‘None of your business,’ Gibby said, cheerily,” tweets Brendan. OK then.

Barry Davis tweets that Alex Anthopoulos says that trade talk is — finally — starting to heat up, “but right now it’s just preliminary. Lots of team inquiring about prospects.”

More from AA: Scott MacArthur tweets that the GM says Brandon Morrow will begin throwing on Friday. Fingers crossed! Er…. well… not the one with the fucked up tendon sheath, but the others!

Scott adds that Anthopoulos says that he’s encouraged by the progress in negotiations with first round pick Jeff Hoffman.

Anthopoulos says that he’s not focussed solely on pitching in the trade talks that he’s having — he’d be happy to improve the club however he can. John Lott tweets this quote from the GM: “We’re basically canvassing the clubs to see who’s available. In some of the conversations, players we didn’t think were available are.” I know he always says that, but… hmmm…

Barry Davis tweets that John Gibbons was noticeably without chewing tobacco today, and that the Jays’ manager says that Tony Gywnn’s premature death this week prompted him to try to give it up.

Jose Bautista’s first inning at bat on Sunday was slightly terrific, if you ask me. He made a very demonstrative groan after thinking he’d walked on a 3-1 pitch that was a rather generously called a ball, then got back into the box, refocussed, and hit the next pitch — a second straight fastball, in almost in the same location — the opposite way into the right-centre alley for an RBI double. “A nice piece of hitting,” we were probably told by the TV broadcast. Or something like that. It was, though! (Here’s the strikezone plot via Brooks.)

So so so so so fucking weird that the Jays would be pitching so much better than last year now that they’re using defensive shifts again, innit? I mean, I know there are other reasons that are part of it, but seriously! Their starters are currently tied with the Angels’ group for the second-lowest ERA in the American League. Shit is fucked.

While we’re here, a reminder that our old friend Bergkamp makes awesome Dutch comfort food at The Ossington on Sundays, and he’s be kicking that enterprise into high gear for all of the Netherlands’ matches during the World Cup. There might even be more than three! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves yet. What we can do, though, is throw on some orange and head over there tomorrow for the 12 noon display of frustration against a stingy Australian side. In the meantime, check out Borrel at the Ossington for a taste (see what I just did there?) of what you can expect. Hup Holland hup!

Don’t forget: PITCH #4 is fast approaching — it takes place this Thursday, June 19th — and for those of you who missed the announcement, I’ll be one of the panelists, along with a much more talented group, featuring Jonah Keri, Michael Grange, and Morgan Campbell. Tickets are still available, so grab yourself some here, and be sure to follow @PitchTalks for all the info you need.

TV: Sportsnet

Next game(s): Tomorrow, 7:05 PM ET @ Yankees

For those of you who’ll be out and about, be sure to follow all the action on your phone with theScore app.

And now, the lineups… 

Toronto Blue Jays

SS Jose Reyes (S)
LF Melky Cabrera (S)
RF Jose Bautista (R)
1B Edwin Encarnacion (R)
2B Brett Lawrie (R)
C Dioner Navarro (S)
DH Juan Francisco (L)
2B Munenori Kawasaki (L)
CF Anthony Gose (L)

RHP Marcus Stroman

New York Yankees

LF Brett Gardner (L)
SS Derek Jeter (R)
CF Jacoby Ellsbury (L)
1B Mark Teixeira (S)
C Brian McCann (L)
DH Carlos Beltran (S)
RF Ichiro! (L)
2B Brian Roberts (S)
3B Kelly Johnson (L)

RHP Masahiro Tanaka

Comments (293)

  1. I’m here, but I’ll try to keep silent or @ least keep my comments polite + scarce. I know my kind aren’t wanted ’round these parts.

    Let’s just all enjoy a nice baseball game!

  2. Wow!

  3. Oh hell yes!

  4. REYES! Way to start off with a bang…

  5. lets go Stroman…. no one thought you could outpitch Tanaka….. lets see something tonight brah!!!

  6. My imagination, or did Buck just about call Tanaka inscrutable?

  7. In San Fran and watching Tanaka’s countryman baffle the A’s tonight.

    So weird that the Jays are playing their night game at 4pm.

  8. More like Hungover Jays Fans, am I right?

  9. I hate Gardner.

  10. That Gardner at-bat sucked.

  11. Jeter in the 2 hole…. hahahahaha

  12. Funny, all the “White Jays” nonsense around this team a few years back. Lawrie is the only white guy in today’s lineup. Utterly useless observation by me.

  13. Anyone know if that’s Marcus’ mum sitting beside his dad in the stands?

  14. Wow. Just discovered my underwear was on inside out AND backward.

  15. Hitters should not have to adjust to that strike zone…junk

  16. Were never gonna get anything in the zone if a pitch 6 inches off the ground is a strike.

  17. sure wudda been nice to get more than 1 in the first….. nothing this guy throws is straight…

  18. Making Tanaka pitch at least.

  19. I wouldn’t have minded seeing Gose try to steal. Worst thing that happens is Reyes starts the next inning. Best outcome is he fucks with Tanaka’s focus.

  20. Holy fuck tanaka walked gose

  21. This is the first game of the series and we’re up against one of the hottest pitchers in baseball.

    We need to make Tanaka throw tons of pitches to knock him out of the game early. 38 pitches through two is alright, but I’m hoping we can improve on that.

  22. Stroman is working fast…I love it

  23. Ichiro looks like he’s 50.

  24. KC leading 7-0 over Scherzer. 7 runs in one inning.
    There may be a new leader in AL Central tonight.

  25. Something crazy has gotten into the Royals.

  26. That 3rd ball to Bautista might be the worst-called ball I’ve seen this season.

  27. Gibby looks like Mr. Ed hanging over that fence.

  28. who do they have worth plunking in retaliation….

  29. This might be one of the lowest strike zones I’ve ever seen. Really low stuff getting called strikes, while things well within the top half of the strike zone are being called balls.

  30. Man pitch tracker just kills me when the ump has a bad strike zone.

  31. This Strike zone is jacked up

  32. This ump looks like he’s 8 feet tall.

  33. Well there goes the no hitter.

  34. “will all of Beltran, McCann, and Jeter continue to hover around 80 wRC+?”

    No, no, yes. The Captain is just not that good anymore.

  35. What a fucking joke this stadium is

  36. foul ball at a man’s field

  37. Gardner’s killing us.

  38. That homerun pitch doesn’t happen if Marcus got the call on the inside strike (pitch 2 or 3?)

  39. Wish the jays had gardner. Guy has to be the most underrated player in mlb.

  40. Lawrie making Bautista redundant in rf.

  41. THat’s unbelievable. 3-24 over the last 27 games at YS

  42. How have the jays been 3-24 the last 27 games in ny??? Wooww. I guess thats what happens when you have mike mccoy, moises sierra, and jpa in the lineup

  43. I’m sorry to interrupt this conversation, but can someone ask the umpire what the fuck is going on? He’s calling the game like a guy who received a suitcase full of cash before the game started.

  44. Wow, I wasn’t keeping an eye on StroMan’s pitch count. Hope we get two more innings out of him and that the next pitcher goes at least two more.

    And while we’re hoping for things, how about a bat around inning for the Jays?

  45. This is why i love kawa. Him and jbats are the only guys in the lineup that put up ABs like this consistently

  46. Spirit animal is having a nice at bat.

  47. I’d like to grab some buds right now.

  48. Gotta miss some bats, Stro.

    • This is my first time seeing him, cant say im too impressed. Thought he would miss more bats

      • Yanks are so patient, he’s pitching in front of a ton of family for sure, I’m inclined to cut him some slack. That cutter against ichiro was nice right there.

  49. Rogers having feed issues again. -_-

  50. Ump really can’t decide if he’s giving the outside corner or not. So inconsistent.

  51. Stay tuned for the battle of the bullpens. Both starters have thrown a shit ton of pitches thru 3 1/2.

  52. Yanks announcers are praising Stroman.

  53. Lot of lefties in this lineup too. Alright kid. Growing pains, game ain’t out of hand, I can live with that.

  54. Poor kid, these Yankee cock-sucker batters are making him throw 10 pitches per batter, at 100 pitches before the 4th ends.

  55. Buck and Tabby going on and on about veteran hitters. I guess none of that applies to Tanaka though. I just wish they’d shut the hell up.

  56. Except for that cheapy homerun Stro pitched pretty well actually. Based on his past performance I am surprised he wasn’t able to miss more bats.

  57. Somewhat depressing that Stroman’s already at 100 pitches and isn’t even out of the fourth yet.

  58. This game proves the jays need a front of rotation starter or does it I don’t know

  59. regardless….. didnt wanna see stroman face gardener again…. painful…..

  60. I still feel like the Jays are going to pull this one out, after all they are only down by 1.

  61. 2 hours for 4 innings….

  62. F@%K this ump…… seriously

  63. So many reputation strike calls for Tanaka tonight. Jebus.

  64. They just cant lay off his splitter

  65. Saw this amazing stat today

    In 323 at-bats against Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez and Greg Maddux, Tony Gwynn struck out a total of 3 times.

    WOW….

  66. Partly because they know that anything above their shoelaces will be called a strike.

  67. Gotta get a runner-on for these Jap pitchers, it will eliminate their fancy wind-ups

  68. Fuck that was some nice pitching

  69. FFS…all those bullshit strike calls are paying off nicely…

  70. I’ve got Buck and Tabby Tanaka fatigue. Mute button being pressed.

  71. I know this is going to sound radical but i dont think tanaka is that good. Once he gets seen more, teams will lay off his splitter until he proves he can throw it for a strike. Maybe not this year but he strikes me as a mid rotation type long term.

  72. Tough Actin Tanaktin

  73. The good news is that Tanaka should be out of the game by the end of the sixth. Hopefully the bottom of our order can take a few pitches.

  74. Jays haven’t win in Yankee stadium since 2012 ugh

  75. When was the last time Jeter was called out looking in Yankee Stadium?

  76. This ump’s strikezone is tighter than a virgin’s asshole.

  77. It’s frustrating that Loup and Stroman don’t get the same call that Tanaka has benefited from all night

    • That splitter is making the hitters look bad, maybe it was also fooling the ump.

      • i’d be more inclined to believe that if this didn’t happen pretty much every time i watch baseball hosted by the yankees… recall bautista and edwin striking out looking back to back with the bases loaded on pitches 6″ in the lefty batters box. i don’t know if baseball needs robot umps but yankee stadium sure as fuck does

  78. Need a strike out here

  79. Fuck lff

  80. Serves the ump right that he got balled there…but fuck McCann getting a HBP.

  81. That was pretty much perfect, a strikeout and the ump got hit in the balls. Thank you Baseball Gods.

  82. Every minute I stay in this room I get weaker. And every minute Charlie pitches in the New York he gets stronger.

  83. The ump has set up Tanaka’s strike out pitch perfect for him all night

  84. And there’s pitch 100. Good.

  85. The Redman in the pen.

  86. Ugh Tabler. “Tanaka doesn’t throw very hard. He’ll throw 92, tough 93.”

    *Tanaka throws a 97mph heater*

  87. We’re seven pitches into a fairly excellent at-bat by Navarro, but I do have to quibble over how Tanaka has yet to throw a strike during this at-bat.

  88. Thank you Fat Frank!

  89. Muni’s 6th inning at-bat could learn a lot by watching Muni’s other at-bats. FFS.

  90. I only watch half the games on tv, so I can ‘t really comment on the umpires’ strike calling, but it seems to be a recurring theme this year of people commenting on this site how unfair the umpires are to Blue Jays’ pitchers and hitters. Odd how we’re in first place by 4.5 games and people are crying the boohoohoo.

  91. Oh shit, now I’m a tad worried

  92. Gose + top of the order in the seventh, hopefully against a fresh pitcher. Sounds like a decent chance to score there.

  93. It’d be nice if the Jays could have a game where a base hit up the middle doesn’t hit the pitcher and turn into an out.

  94. Is anyone else sick and fucking tired of Buck and Tabby’s masturbating over opposing star players? I mean yah ok, they have to discuss them and give them some props but this is too much. Tanaka this and that and this and that. Not to mention the 4 game series against the Angels where they went on about Mike Trout for 80% of each game. Don’t even get me started on how they used to talk about Ellsbury back a couple years.

    • I don’t know. He is among the best pitchers in baseball in just his rookie year, who could possibly start the All Star Game and is in contention for the Cy Young. And we face him 2 or 3 times a year and they need something to talk about. I hear you on some these guys they go on and on about, but c’mon. Tanaka.

      • I get that, Mike Trout is also incredible as well but to go on and on and on about the opposing team isnt their job. They are supposed to be making the game exciting for the fans at home, the JAYS fans.

    • I’ll say it whenever I see it come up: I completely don’t get being upset at this in the slightest.

      • I am totally cool with hearing stats and trivia or facts about the other team, that’s great but they went on about Trout for 4 straight games. It just got old quick.

  95. Terrible matchup for Stroman given all the lefties and that ridiculous stadium. This is one of those games you expect the Jays to lose and are thrilled if they miraculously win it somehow.

  96. im in better shape than redmond, and im not even a mlb baseball player

    im not!

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