Ricky Romero just hasn’t been himself so far this year– his strikeouts are down, walks are up, he’s giving up more line drives and inducing fewer swinging strikes– and he certainly hopes to start turning things around this afternoon against Tampa, as he heads straight into Joe Maddon’s head games. Noticing the reverse split thing he’s got going on, and trying to neutralize the changeup Romero uses to get right-handers out, Maddon will once again buck conventional wisdom and send a pile of lefties to the plate against the Jays’ left-handed ace.
Five of the Rays starters today hit left handed, and two more are switch hitters who will face Romero on his left side, hoping to take advantage of the splits. This tactic, as you may recall, does not sit very well with Romero, who told reporters back in April, “I really don’t care what he has to say or what his mindset is against me. If he has nine lefties against me, I’ll find a way to win. That’s just the bottom line.”
Romero gave up eight hits and three runs– all earned– in six innings, striking out four and walking three en route to a 7-3 Jays win on April 17th, against a similarly left-heavy lineup, though quite a different one in the overall (Desmond Jennings, Evan Longoria, Sean Rodriguez and Reid Brignac all played that day, and aren’t in the lineup today).
Drew Sutton, who was traded in a matter of days after having started the week at Atlanta’s Triple-A Gwinnett team, will bat cleanup for Tampa. Adam Lind, eat your heart out.
Live Blogging Richard Griffin’s Live Blog!
Screw the scuttlebutt– I’ll post a bunch of links later in the afternoon. Instead, let’s have some fun with this section of the Game Threat, as it’s come to my attention that Richard Griffin is live blogging this afternoon’s game over at the Toronto Star, so I’m thinking… why not live blog what’s going on in Griff’s little corner of teh interwebs myself? If it goes well, next time it might even get its own post! Watch below for updates!!!
- 5:09 PM: Aaaaaand, that’s it. The Jays lose. Should I wrap this up, or… nah, I’m done.
- 5:00 PM: Is Griff still Griffing? Is this game still on? I think I just fell asleep– and before you bitch, I’ll have you know I was just following the lead of the Jays hitters. Ugh. Let’s see if the traditional lead-off walk to Tampa continues…
- 4:52 PM: Darren Oliver is apparently not getting too old for this shit. Also, someone in the GriffChat is worried about Drew Hutchison needing more seasoning, and really wants Dustin McGowan back. You just can’t make this stuff up! “Dustin is not even advanced enough in his comeback for the organization to make a reasonable guess at a time frame,” Griff explains. Even still, I’m probably taking Hutchison.
- 4:41 PM: And a non-baseball fan fights back, suggesting that you’ll look like a lame-o if the wave comes through your section and you stay seated. Uh… you got it backwards my friend. You’ll look like someone who actually gives a shit about the thing they bought tickets for.
- 4:38 PM: The anti-wave view gains some traction! BAN IT! BAN IT!!!!!!!! Surely Rogers employs enough fucking Fun Police to crack down.
- 4:32 PM: OK, that was a fun inning of baseball that was inches away from being fucking devastating. Let’s check back in with Griff, who points out that Casey Janssen absolutely froze on the mound, forcing Omar Vizquel to come home with a throw to end the inning as JP Arencibia tagged out Carlos Pena. Happy that’s over. Fuck!
- 4:21 PM: Game’s getting a little tense here.
- 4:15 PM: About that Vlad thing: in the paper today, Griff bets June 25th as the day we might see him.
- 4:13 PM: Griff figures the Jays have high hopes Vlad– and honestly, I know he was terrible in Baltimore last year, but… I dunno, maybe the Jays don’t want to eliminate the possibility that such a situation would suck the goddamn life out of anyone. Also: Johnson takes himself out of the game after what appears to be a hamstring issue while running into second on his double. Vizquel at second now.
- 4:03 PM: Colby Rasmus is still amazing to watch in centre. Really shows you how far Vernon Wells coasted on his reputation as his skills deteriorated. He may have been Rasmus-like at one point, but we haven’t seen CF like this for years. This game is still going on. So is Griff’s live blog, I think.
- 3:55 PM: We’re also wondering what the fuck was up with the Jays bullpen not moving a muscle when Eric Thames wound up lying in front of them hurt after a dive. Seriously, amiright? Griff is probably going to comment about Luke Scott beating the shift by hitting a ball that hit off Kelly Johnson’s glove, and took Brett Lawrie out of the play. Tie game, by the way. Cordero in– and not doing horribly, but holy fuck that’s going to be second-guessed if this goes south.
- 3:53 PM: An E5 dinger turns the discussion to what the hell his next contract is going to look like, at least around here– Willingham-like, perhaps? Who the fuck is comparable? Meanwhile, Griff is… following the game? I don’t know.
- 3:40 PM: It kinda defeats the purpose of the exercise to straight-up quote Griff, but he provides a nifty explanation what’s going on with the Lind/waiver business: “The belief is he has cleared waivers and there is no reason for the Jays to change their policy about keeping waiver moves confidential. I would say that AA is actively trying to find out what fellow executives in MLB are leaking waiver information to the media. But if clear, Lind can be brought back to the majors any time without having to go through any waiver or other exercise.”
- 3:38 PM: Sorry for the lack of updates, I’ve just been lost in thought as to why Darren Oliver wasn’t brought into the game instead of Luis Perez. Though, a little mound visit– presumably to tell Perez to throw some damn strikes– seemed to work, and the Jays get out unscathed… somehow. Meanwhile, Griff keeps talkin’ about whatever his readers are askin’. Nothing major, for good or ill, in a while now– unless you want to count how Griff figures Escobar will keep hold of short even when Hechavarria is ready. Seniority and whatnot.
- 3:20 PM: Griff assures a reader AA was just doing his due diligence by asking about Hamels and Victorino. In the office, we all agree that the Jays might go hard after Zach Greinke, should he become available– either in-season or next winter. Other Griff stuff: cracking wise’ on Jeter’s gift bags, and– hang on– the Rays only have two hits today?!!!???!? MOTHERFUCK!
- 3:16 PM: Oh man, that’s amazing, Colby Rassssssmus…
- 3:01 PM: Finally, the city’s odd Thames-bubble appears to be bursting, as Griffin tells a guy who mostly listens to games that he’s “ hitting a soft .254 and playing a soft left field.” Indeed. (Looks like Thames just knocked the wind out of himself on a dive, to boot– though, maybe it’s his hand…). Also, nugget time! “At the moment Farrell listed Bautista as his third 1B on his depth chart.”
- 2:58 PM: Reader Darren suggests that Brett Lawrie has a similar skill-set as Rickey Henderson. Brett Lawrie. Has a similar skill-set. As Rickey Henderson. Rickey Henderson. Who, from 1980 to 1998, averaged 7 wins a season!!?!?! Brett Lawrie’s a nice player, people, but Jesus Christ on a horse cock, some perspective, please.
- 2:48 PM: Non-Griff-related: Gregg Zaun, everybody! (Also: Dustin Parkes, everybody!)
- 2:41 PM: Griff returns! Via Twitter! So his DJF-approved avatar is now showing up in the chat!!!! This is, just perhaps, the proudest moment of my life.
- 2:38 PM: Hey! The Jays got a run back, and Colby Rasmus and his swagger sleeve stole a base, then snapped his imaginary tin of chaw, or something. Still not a whole lot going on here. Some ALDS speculation that… it… um… let’s just damn well get there and be happy about it, rather than worrying about what might happen if the Jays won the Wild Card, won the Play-In, and then wound up having to face the Rays, eh?
- 2:27 PM: Not a whole fuck of a lot going on here, as Griff’s still AWOL, and the fans are getting restless, hating on the Rays, bitching about Romero and Thames. I guess that’s what one loss and a fifth-inning deficit will do to you, coming off five wins in six games… y’know, if you’re an emotional wreck of a goddamn moron.
- 2:13 PM: Or don’t stop, I don’t even fucking care anymore. Getting close to a Frappucino break here. Griff is nowhere to be found. Apparently internet is internet-mittent (see what I just did there?) in Tampa. Surprising. Beautiful facility.
- 2:08 PM: STOP SUCKING, RICKY! JESUS!!!
- 2:05 PM: “I’m not too crazy about it,” comes the official answer. Meh.
- 2:02 PM: Griff is asked, in absentia, how he feels about people live blogging his live blog. I’m gonna suggest he probably doesn’t mind whatever extra pageviews my little exercise sends his way.
- 2:00 PM: Technical difficulties at the Griff Chat! He’s offline and the moderator is taking over, or something. Address your question to me and if it gets through over there I’ll answer it! Hahahahahaha.
- 1:58 PM: Non-chat-related: FUCK ME, ESCOBAR. SERIOUSLY???
- 1:57 PM: Readers are getting restless, as Griff apparently hasn’t said enough about Ricky Romero’s lack of command. “And Romero comments are not being aired? Is it not relevant to the game to talk starting pitching?” says Brent. Thing is, what’s to say, really? Romero is struggling with command, and if someone sees an obvious fix, send your resume to the Jays. He’ll get through it, but part of it is also that he really outpitched his peripherals last year, so he was always likely to not quite look as good as 2011. Seems to me like he’s had to regroup on the mound and get back into his proper delivery more often this year than I recall in years past. Seems like he usually does it, though, and gets relatively on track. But that’s all anecdotal gut-feeling bullshit, so, what the fuck do I know?
- 1:50 PM: Griff channels me– y’know, the more polite, real life me– saying “That is just plain dumb. Sorry,” to a fan who suggests the Jays go after Robinson Cano. WHY DON’T THEY REPLACE THE GROUNDS CREW WITH UNICORNS, WHILE THEY’RE AT IT!!!??!??!??!?!?!!?
- 1:46 PM: A fan is concerned about that umpires are getting a bad reputation, and insists MLB needs to deal with this consumer confidence issue. I wonder what possible fucking nonsense this stems from. Which isn’t to say that umpires shouldn’t get scrutiny when they make bad calls, or that there shouldn’t be more accountability, it’s just… y’know… welcome to EVERY SINGLE OTHER FUCKING YEAR EVER. Jays fans are just noticing now because the Golden Boy is involved– you know, the guy who Sportsnet gets on camera every possible second of the broadcast that they can? Like, after Bautista hits a home run? We get a shot of Lawrie waving a towel on the bench? Seriously, Sportsnet?
- 1:42 PM: Rich tells readers that this week’s Griff Bag should drop tomorrow, and the moderator chimes in “Good to hear.” Some ribbing going on there, or what? My mind is racing with the possibilities.
- 1:36 PM: Griffin just crushing softballs now: Jose is now better than Edwin, the O’s might not sustain their pitching success, Rasmus not likely a 25-90 guy. Jesus… how about, why are your readers still using RBIs????
- 1:33 PM: Nugget time: John Farrell was asked who’d start a one-off Wild Card game for his club if everyone was rested. He noted that Brandon Morrow has pitched really well in the first five weeks, but he also noted that it’s still way early. Translation: Morrow. Unless Ricky Romero gets his shit together– which, um…. it ain’t happening at the moment, no thanks to Eric Thames. Ugh. How’s Snider’s wrist doing???
- 1:28 PM: “Grego” asks where he can listen to the game on the internet– is this a veiled question for me? Because I’m not telling, even if I did know. There is this thing called “Google,” though. Also, as an MLB.com employee, I might disguise my name a bit better when asking such questions to Griff. *COUGH*
- 1:25 PM: Griff suggests it’s not confirmed that the Rays switch hitters today will definitely hit left against Romero, so my confidence in that notion may yet have to stand corrected. Also, non-Griff-related: Jose Bautista, motherfuck yes!!!
- 1:19 PM: Sorry, doing some tweetin’s and some eatin’s. Griff acknowledges he sometimes dabbles in DJF! (Well, I mean, obviously. Have you seen his Twitter avatar?) He also suggests that the damage to Brett Lawrie’s reputation among umps is a “day-to-day thing.” This too shall pass…
- 1:05 PM: Griff’s here! And he’s pointing out the Jays astonishingly fucking abysmal record in their last 20 series against the Rays (1-1-18). Holy shit! I mean, if there are reasons to want the Jays to take this game, that’s probably one of them.
- 12:56 PM: Not a whole hell of a lot going on. Still waiting for the Griffmeister.
And now the lineups, by way of the live box score at theScore.com. And for those of you who’ll be out and about, be sure to follow all the action on your phone with Score Mobile…
Toronto Blue Jays
K. Johnson 2B
Y. Escobar SS
J. Bautista RF
E. Encarnacion DH
J. Arencibia C
E. Thames LF
B. Lawrie 3B
C. Rasmus CF
Y. Gomes 1B
R. Romero LHP
Tampa Bay Rays
C. Pena 1B
B. Upton CF
M. Joyce RF
D. Sutton 3B
L. Scott DH
E. Johnson SS
W. Rhymes 2B
C. Gimenez C
R. Thompson LF
J. Shields RHP
Image via Abelimages/Getty.