Jays Lose 6-5 To Rays

It used to be that the favourite phrase of lazy sports journalists – “they just know how to win” – was reserved for a certain two teams in the American League East, neither of whom were competing in Toronto tonight under a closed roof. However, the Tampa Bay Rays are changing all of that, as they continue to fortify their position at the top of the division.

Tonight, they took advantage of some shaky starting pitching from Jesse Litsch and even shakier defense at first base by Edwin Encarnacion to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-5.

Anatomy Of Seeing What A Pitcher Has To Offer

Coming into tonight, opposing hitters had a .335 OPS the first time through the order against Jeremy Hellickson. In subsequent plate appearances, their OPS goes up to .760.

Hellickson’s pitching lines tonight, by each time through the order:

  1. Over 36 pitches: Five strike outs, zero walks, one hit, zero runs. Opposing batters: .111 OBP, .000 SLG.
  2. Over 29 pitches: one strike out, two walks, one hit, two runs. Opposing batters: .333 OBP, .429 SLG.
  3. Over 23 pitches (only 7 plate appearances): zero strike outs, one walk, three hits, two runs. Opposing batters: .571 OBP, .833 SLG.

You might say that John Maddon pulled him at exactly the right moment.

Most Important Play(s) Of The Game

Shortstop Elliot Johnson’s single in the second inning caused a lot of calamity among Jose Bautista and Jesse Litsch, but most importantly it scored two runs and set the Rays in motion. Their likelihood of winning increased by 14.3%. It’s not exactly what you want to see happen in the second inning if you’re Toronto.

Biggest Opportunity Missed

In baseball, a duck snort is a ball that’s hit just hard to bloop over the infield, but soft enough that it doesn’t reach the deeper part of the outfield. It’s basically a best case scenario these days for Aaron Hill. Unfortunately, Matt Joyce still managed to get Hill’s duck snort in the seventh inning. That play alone decreased the Blue Jays chances of winning by 7.6%.

The Aggravating Things That John Farrell Did

I actually thought that despite the loss, John Farrell managed a good game tonight, that was until Rajai Davis stole third base in the ninth inning with the Blue Jays down two runs. There was absolutely no value in attempting the steal and an enormous risk of getting caught. Dumb. I realize that Farnsworth was paying him no mind, but there’s absolutely no payoff to stealing third, and there’s still a risk of him playing possum. And if it’s planned for, the batter at the plate misses the chance to hit a pitch.

The Statistics You Won’t Believe

There were only 14,415 people at Rogers Centre to see the AL East leading Tampa Bay Rays.

As of Monday, the spot in the batting order directly ahead of Jose Bautista was being pitched fastballs 56.7% of the time. All of the other spots in the batting order saw fastballs 56.0% of the time. Corey Patterson isn’t seeing more fastball batting second in the lineup.

Corey Patterson saw 22 pitches tonight, more than any other player on the Blue Jays. He hit a double and a triple tonight too. Patience pays off.


No Toronto Blue Jays relievers pitched with enough leverage to get a shutdown or meltdown.

Stray Observations Of The Game

I really, really, really want to take the contrary viewpoint and find something good to say about Edwin Encarnacion’s defense tonight, but I just can’t. He had a horrible night defensively. You might say that like Encarnacion himself, I have no defense.

True story: I traded for Matt Joyce in my fantasy league just before he broke out offensively. Booya!

For B.J. Upton’s third plate appearance of the game, Jays Vision at Rogers Centre noted that he was “hit by a bitch” in the second inning.

So far this season, I’ve felt as though Jesse Litsch has been very lucky in his “good” outings and very unlucky in his “bad” outings. Tonight he was just bad. You can’t blame Encarnacion for a 0.33 K:BB ratio.

Jason Frasor created a bit of a jam for himself in the top of the ninth, setting up a situation in which the bases were loaded and there was only one out. If I could choose any Blue Jays pitcher to get out of that situation, it would be Frasor, and that’s exactly what he did.

Comments (33)

  1. You want to know why the Rays continue to be good with that mediocre roster? It’s partly Maddon, he’s a good manager.

    He looked at Litsch’s splits (it seems like most managers don’t even bother with that), noticed how terrible he’s been against lefties and used all of the lefties on his roster tonight. It obviously helps that he has so many moving parts and platoon players to do that, but it worked.

    His defensive formation in the outfield also prevented two Bautista doubles (on the single and the line out). No idea why other managers haven’t tried this yet.

    And the IBB in the 7th to put the winning run on was also something that most managers wouldn’t have even considered.

  2. E5′s defense is that there is no better option right now. He obviously shouldn’t be a major league starter, but the only other options are Nix, McDonald, and Rivera.

  3. Excellent points, especially on the lefty heavy lineup.

  4. And none of those guys are likely going to be better at first base.

  5. After ripping a double down the line in Detroit and deep in the alley to left in the early innings, Why is the best hill can hope for is a ‘duck snort’ other than that, I agree. And if you can make the Jays commit 4 errors in 3 innings by being Joe Maddon, you know more about winning that I ever will.

  6. than* I ever will.

    • Litsch looked pretty awful, even without the errors. And I’ll look at Hill’s insanely high 22.2% IF flyball rate this year as my defense on the other challenge.

  7. I find it hard to jump on EE at this point, he’s supposed to be DH and he just had a really bad game..

    On the other hand, if the jays were a better team, meaning if we had any sort of capable clean up batter, we STILL would have one this game.. So yes EE shit the bed tonight, its unfortunate but it happens, but what Hill, EE and Nix have given the team at the plate has happened game in and game out..

    Thames looks like a dirt bagger, I like his swing

  8. I think Litsch would look pretty bad against most lefty-filled lineups. Luckily for us, those don’t really exist.

    It’s why I was particularly pissed off about him missing Detroit yesterday, though, which is almost all righties.

  9. I am not sure what I dislike more.

    Watching Rivera dog it throughout the game,

    or watching E5 give it his all, but have it be worth as much as 1 legged stripper.

  10. I think its almost time for Cecil and R.Gonzalez to come join the club..
    because seriously the starters have been shit

    nevermind dropping a guy from the pen, we might as well add one..

    PS. why did milwakee trade Charlie V for nothing?

  11. Why do you want to defend Encarnacion? Just to be different from the Jays Talk callers? Every once in a while the masses are right.

  12. That 14K+ attendance mark was a complete and utter fabrication.

    There’s not a chance there was more than 8,000 people there tonight. Playoff hockey and basketball + rain made for a tough draw. Also, it seems that we’ve played Tampa far too much so far this year.

  13. The masses already hated E5, though, even when he was a pretty good player for this team last season.

  14. I don’t want to defend him, i just think its fairweatherly typical to jump on the guy with the fielding errors

    meanwhile litsch was awful and at different spots, if we had decent hitters we would have won..

  15. Is Encarnacion the price to pay for Bautista playing RF this year instead of 3B?

  16. You don’t think Rajai Davis has a perpetual green light to steal? I doubt Farrell called for the steal there, rather Davis just took off. Still doesn’t make it right though.

    Regarding Hill, he’s generally been terrible but he’s been getting some hits lately. Maybe he’s figured something out. Also, he’s transferred his IF popup powers to E5, I’ve noticed.

  17. I love that Thames is here, and that he got off to a good start with last night’s game. What I can’t understand is why David Cooper isn’t back. With Lind on the DL, Cooper should have been called back up. He seemed to be turning things around at the plate and he can at least play 1B with a modicum of competency.

  18. Garold’s got it right on Rajai. He just went, that’s not on Farrell.

    That was a totally strange game last night. My brother and I kept looking at each other and saying that it was weird the whole way through. There was the play where Jaso was under a foul ball and just let it drop (I believe it was followed by a hit). Two Rays ran into each other in the 4th or 5th in the OF, almost dropping the ball. The 5 errors (giving Bautista an error because the ball hit the base is a little too tough, sorry). Encarnacion throwing home as the runner is going back to third. It was just a strange game. But a good one.

  19. Oh, and I forgot to mention Thams. Man, he can swing a bat. I don’t know about connecting, but he certainly knows how to swing it. He also can take pitches. OVerall a good debut in my mind.

  20. E5 leads the AL in errors with 10.His next closest rival is Andrus the SS in Texas.

    It is shocking that his defense has deteriorated since he came her in 2009. Butter was suppose to help him but it hasn’t worked so far.

    I wonder if he is affected psychologically by all the errors, which affects his performance at the plate.

    He must realize that if he doesn’t start hitting, he won’t be anything but a bench player next year.

    Mike Wilner defended him last night which was sad.

    • Actually, Encarnacion wasn’t that terrible last season. He made some bad throws from third, but was otherwise fairly good defensively, or at least average. This year has been a whole other story.

  21. I don’t get all the love that everyone has for the Rays management. Yes, they’re in on the statistical revolution, but despite finding “diamonds in the rough” like Zobirist, Joyce, etc. their team is still clearly built on making the right pick in the top three of the draft. I mean, any team would look pretty good with Evan Longoria, David Price, BJ Upton and Carl Crawford even if they’d never heard of xFIP. Once these guys all ‘price’ themselves off the team, I bet Friedman would have a tough time filling the other 98% (slam). Could someone do a little study of what the Rays would look like staffed only by their top picks and mediocre major leaguers? I forgot, its already been done and is called the 2011 Tampa Bay Rays (double slam).

  22. Wonder if its time to send EE down to Vegas for a stint. Seemed to have worked last year. At this point both his D and O are suffering.

  23. Zing. I think they’d remind you that they drafted top 5 only 4 times from ’99 to ’08 somehow while the Rays amazingly did it 8 times! Don’t get me wrong, I think the Rays have a brilliant strategy there that should be emulated. Just make sure you’re the worst team in baseball for around 10 years or so consistently and eventually you’ll accumulate enough top picks that you can challenge in the AL East! I bet its thinking like that which made Friedman a top Wall Street exec…

    • Yeah, that’s a ridiculously shallow way of looking at things. Consider the point when new management came aboard and what they’ve done in their relatively short time in charge. Their constantly stocked system and ability to move players at just the right time or let them leave via free agency is what makes them impressive, if you can’t recognize that, I think you’ve already had your mind made up before you started looking.

  24. Ray, funny because you are probably going to say the same thing in a few years about the rays after they re do their farm and add 11 picks out of the first hundred

    but what you need to realize is that acquiring those picks, letting all their type A’s leave (most of whom are strugglying now) is what makes the rays a consistently good organization

    my only hope is that friedman leaves and goes to join his father in houston.

    and ps. the rays havent had a top pick since Price and still have the 2nd best farm team (soon to be 1st) in the league., so your simple analysis is wayway off

  25. Those are absolutely fair points. The Rays have put themselves in a position to avoid being the Carlos Beltran era Royals or the CC Sabathia Cliff Lee Indians. Playing the type A free agent game is a great strategy (we’ll see how those picks work out of course) and I don’t mean to back myself into the extreme of calling Friedman a fraud and an idiot here.

    Having said that (of course) the Rays are not built around late first round picks or sixth round picks or the “extra 2%” trades they make. Those things are amplified because they have a core – Longoria, Price, Upton – of ubertalented players which move the Rays’ baseline ability from 65 to 85 wins. You don’t go from worst to first with James Shields and James Joyce; those guys take you that last step. I just can’t help but feel like any team could contend with a core of those three (plus Carl Crawford) and a competent GM.

  26. @dc – google Tim Beckham…

  27. I was able to pick up Joyce when Manny retired in my AL only league. I think that was prior to him hitting any bombs. It has been all gravy from there. Him, Bautista and Hosmer are carrying my team!

  28. It took 10 years of being on the bottom to accumulate the #1 farm system, and for the last three years, they have been using those players in trades etc. But eventually, those picks will run out. Yes, this year they have 11 picks, but what about next year? Every year they spend near the top, is a lower pick in the draft. One bad draft year will seriously damage their farm.

    Their inability to augment their team with free agents because of payroll constrictions will eventually send them back to the bottom. Is this the way to win in the east? Absolutely, but you also have to have the payroll.

  29. But that assumes you can only find gold higher in the draft, which isn’t 100% true. The idea is to maximize the talent, and let it go just before it turns into a pumpkin. See Benoit, Joaquin.

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