With the regular crew off, I’m going to try and cover game recaps on the weekends, at least on the days where the games aren’t on that unholy entity known as Sportsnet One.  I’m going to follow a format similar to that of Dustin’s, mostly because I’m uncreative/unmotivated but also because it works well.

After dropping last night’s opener to the Astros, the Blue Jays rebounded today, coming back from a 4-0 deficit in the bottom of the sixth inning to win 7-5.  Jose Bautista was once again the focal point for the Jays’ offense going 3 for 4 with two homeruns, including a three-run shot in the sixth that got them back in the game.  Bautista now leads baseball with 18 homeruns.

After Toronto tied the game in the bottom of the seventh on a Jose Molina single to centerfield, Yunel Escobar thumped a two-run homer to leftfield that put the Jays up for good.

Brandon Morrow got the start for Toronto and wasn’t great, but managed to pitch into the seventh innings.  He struck out six and walked three.

Tomorrow’s rubber match will feature Kyle Drabek for the Jays against left-hander Wandy Rodriguez for Houston.

Anatomy of a comeback-starter
When Jose Bautista hit his first homerun in the sixth inning off of Brett “The Wife-Beater” Myers, he came up with runners on the corners and only one out.  On deck was Aaron Hill who so far this year has an anemic .291 wOBA.  Rather than walk Bautista, which would have set up a force-out at every base, Myers proceeded to throw him an 0-1 curveball, right down the middle which he stung to leftfield.

Here was how that bottom of the sixth inning played out; bringing the Jays from down four runs, to down just one.

  • Jose Molina hits a 2-2 cutter on a line into centerfield for a single.
  • Yunel Escobar hits a routine groundball to Clint Barmes at short; the ball goes right through his legs for an error, Molina advances to second.
  • Corey Patterson stings a ball to centerfield and Michael Bourn makes a nice running catch.  Molina advances to third on the sac-fly, one out.
  • Jose Bautista mashes an 0-1 curveball deep to leftfield for a three-run homerun.
  • Aaron Hill pops out to first base, two out
  • Juan Rivera grounds out to Barmes at short, three out

Most important play(s) of the game
Yunel Escobar’s two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh increased the Jays’ chances of winning by .322.

Bautista’s first homerun in the sixth inning off of Brett Myers increased Toronto’s chances of coming out on top by .205, while his second homerun helped his team by .034.

Biggest opportunity missed
With two on and one out in the top of the seventh inning, former Blue Jay farmhand Brett Wallace stepped to the plate against Casey Janssen and grounded into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.  At the time, the Astros were still in front by a run, but that play decreased their chances of winning by almost 10%.

The aggravating things that John Farrell did
There wasn’t much to criticize today.  The Jays had only one stolen base attempt in the game, which was a successful one by Bautista in the bottom of the first with Hill at the plate.  I don’t necessarily have a problem with allowing him to run with him at the plate and two out.

You could probably throw stones and say that Farrell should have taken Morrow out of the game after six innings when he was sitting at 99 pitches.  Morrow went on to walk Angel Sanchez and give up a single to Hunter Pence before exiting the game for Casey Janssen, more on that in a minute.

Jon Rauch was brought in in the top of the ninth to finish the game and although you could say it wasn’t a smart move when he just blew the game last night, he did have a three-run lead and it wasn’t exactly a high-leverage situation.  Thankfully when things did start to go awry, Farrell pulled him in favour of Octavio Dotel who proceeded to get the final two outs of the game against two right-handed hitters.

The stupid things emanating from Buck and Tabs
I listened really hard and couldn’t come up with much today, which is surprising.  There are usually at least two or three glaring examples in every game.  In the past week we’ve heard Buck say that Albert Pujols was not one of the top-five players in baseball.  We’ve also heard him say that players who play both second and third base like Jayson Nix are rare despite there being at least four other players on the Jays’ roster who do just that (McDonald, McCoy, Hill, and Lawrie).  Then we heard Pat Tabler over the past week talk about how Corey Patterson sees more fastballs than normal because he’s hitting in front of Jose Bautista, which simply isn’t true.

After relieving Morrow in the seventh inning with nobody out and runners on first and second, Casey Janssen faced two batters, first striking out Carlos Lee and then getting Brett Wallace to ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.  For that he increased his team’s chances of winning by .152 and was awarded with a massive shutdown

Jason Frasor pitched a scoreless eighth to grab one as well, increasing the chances for a win by .078, while Octavio Dotel’s outing also resulted in a shutdown, getting the last two outs of the game and increasing his team’s chances by .099.

Jon Rauch was credited with another meltdown after giving up a one-out single to Michael Bourn and then an RBI Double to Angel Sanchez to make it 7-5 in the ninth.

Statistics you won’t believe
Jose Molina came into the game today with an .817 OPS.  Albert Pujols’ OPS is just .751.  Maybe Alex Anthopoulos can swing a trade here.

For all the talk of Brett Myers’ ability to pitch deep into games, no one seems to have mentioned that he’s pitched as far as seven complete innings only twice this year and has yet to appear in the eighth inning of any game.

Jose Bautista now has 65 homeruns in his last 162 games played dating back to last season, which is incidentally the number he’s on pace for this season.

Despite his two-run homer being his only hit of the day, Escobar’s .347 WPA made him the most influential player in the game for Toronto, even more so than Bautista.

Stray Observations of the Game
Edmonton Oilers young phenom Taylor Hall was at the game today and wearing a Jose Bautista jersey.  My respect for him has gone up at least three-fold.

How many times did Buck Martinez or Pat Tabler reference how it was a perfect day for baseball?  I counted at least seven, but I might have missed a couple.  I understand it was a beautiful day, but jeez, we get it already.

I think I know why Jose Bautista is such a good baseball player.  He has really big ears.  That way he can hear the pitcher’s thoughts and knows what pitch is coming.  He’s pretty much a superhero.

Was it just me or did Brandon Morrow’s fastball lose some velocity after the second inning today?  He came out throwing 95-97 mph and after the second inning I only saw him hit 93 once.  He was sitting, most of the time, between 89-91 mph.  I’m sure he’s fine, but that’s still odd.