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:
- Over 36 pitches: Five strike outs, zero walks, one hit, zero runs. Opposing batters: .111 OBP, .000 SLG.
- Over 29 pitches: one strike out, two walks, one hit, two runs. Opposing batters: .333 OBP, .429 SLG.
- 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.