Jays drop two of three to Astros

I’m a little late with this recap today.  I couldn’t watch the game live because I have a life* and it needed attending to.  I had to wait until the game was archived on MLB.tv to watch it, which of course, takes forever.  But here it is, nonetheless.

On the back of a solid performance by starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez and three terrific innings by relievers Wilton Lopez and Mark Melancon, the Houston Astros beat the Toronto Blue Jays 3-2 in the rubber match of their three-game set at the Rogers Center.  The Astros were led by outfielder Hunter Pence whose two-run homerun in the fifth inning was the difference in the ballgame.  J.P. Arencibia and Juan Rivera each had solo homeruns in the loss while Kyle Drabek was inconsistent again allowing eight hits and three walks over six innings of work.  He struck out three and allowed three earned runs.

Anatomy of a former Jay’s Doppelganger
I know this is traditionally where you’d find some rundown of an important inning or at-bat during the game, but I thought this was way more interesting.

Lyle Overbay has a doppelganger; his name is J.R. Towles.

Most important play(s) of the game
Hunter Pence’s two-run homerun in the top of the fifth inning increased his team’s chances to win by .226 and was the biggest play of the game.  For the Jays, J.P. Arencibia’s solo homerun to lead off the bottom of the sixth was the biggest play, increasing the Jays’ chances of winning by .136.

Biggest opportunity missed
With the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the ninth inning, Astros closer Mark Melancon got Aaron Hill to roll over a pitch and ground out to third base to end the game. The play decreased the Jays’ chances of winning by .278…to 0.

Earlier, in the bottom of the seventh inning, Jose Bautista came up with a runner on first and one out and proceeded to ground into a 5-4-3 double play, decreasing the Jays’ chances by .115.

The aggravating things that John Farrell did
In the bottom of the first inning with Yunel Escobar on second after a lead-off double, John Farrell called for Corey Patterson to bunt.  After fouling off his first attempt, Patterson changed his approach and instead swung away.  He ended up grounding out to second base, moving Escobar up to third anyway, but the idea of bunting when your best hitter is on deck seems pointless to me.  Instead of deliberately making an out, Patterson should be trying his damndest to get on base to allow for more RBI opportunities for the most feared hitter in baseball.  I’ve said it before, unless you’re playing for one run, bunting should rarely, if ever, be an option.

Overall, however, Farrell managed a solid game, something he seems to be doing more of these days, no?

The stupid things emanating from Buck and Tabs
There were a few eye-roll-worth comments today like the one where Tabler said the most impressive start by Drabek for him was his previous start when he walked six batters, but overall they weren’t particularly inane today.  Although they did say that Davis should be moved back to the leadoff spot to take advantage of his speed.

In this regard, I think Parkes made a very astute observation the other day while streaming on us (yep, I said it).  He said that it would make more sense to have your fastest runner bat sixth or seventh in the lineup, that way he’d be stealing bases while your worst hitters are up at the plate rather than your best ones, which seems to make more sense when talking of “manufacturing” runs; whatever the hell that means.

Shutdowns/Meltdowns
Both Shawn Camp (.059) and Marc Rzepczynski (.056) were painfully close to recording official shutdowns, but they just missed the cut-off point of six-percent.  Janssen also pitched a clean inning once again.  The bullpen continues to perform very well for Toronto this season, more on that later.

For the Astros, closer Mark Melancon got himself a five-out save and was the most valuable player on the field for Houston increasing his team’s chances of winning by .362.  Obviously, that’s a pretty impressive shutdown.  Wilton Lopez also earned a shutdown for the ‘Stros with .105 WPA for his clean inning-and-a-third.

Statistics you won’t believe
This offseason, much was made here at Getting Blanked about the fact that the Jays were acquiring a ton of right-handed relievers.  Some of us surmised that it was probably unnecessary considering they already had several holdovers and they had acquired Carlos Villanueva via trade with the Brewers during the winter meetings.  One quarter of the way through the year, the Jays have one of the best bullpens in baseball, a fact that has been backed up by their play in the last two games.  But here’s the kicker: The four holdovers (Janssen, Camp, Frasor, and Rzepczynski) and Villanueva have a combined FIP of 3.18.  The three later acquisitions (Francisco, Dotel, and Rauch) have a combined FIP of 6.43.

Stray Observations of the Game
He has yet to be truly burned by it this season, but Corey Patterson takes the worst routes to baseballs I’ve ever seen.  On three occasions today he looked absolutely foolish darting around in leftfield aimlessly toward the baseball.

Remember when after a few games some fans were clamouring for Jayson Nix to be given the everyday third base job?  Now he has a .310 wOBA and is hitting under .200.  What now, smart guys?

The microphone placement in the crowd at Rogers Centre was outstanding today.  It caught two golden moments.  The first was during the top of the third inning with Brett Wallace at bat.  A fan yelled “TORONTO NEVER WANTED YOU, WALLACE.  GO HOME!”  It was so audible that it seemed to cause Buck and Tabs to stop in their tracks for a few seconds.  A couple innings later, one of the vendors apparently selling water and frustrated by the success of his tip-gathering, alcohol-serving colleagues, shouted, “WATCH THE GAME SOBER, DRINK WATER!”  It was classic.

Finally, Carlos Lee has a huge head.

*Not entirely true

Comments (8)

  1. Travis, I would disagree with you about Nix. He just got off the DL and has earned an extended look based on what he did earlier. If they are keeping Lawrie down, there’s no harm in letting him audition for second base (How long do you think Hill will still be with the club?).

  2. Hilarious recap. Great observations.
    Yes, J.R. Towles looks exactly like Overbay
    Yes, batting your fastest runners 6th or 7th suddenly does make sense.
    and yes, Carlos Lee is wearing a little league helmet for some reason.

  3. My father brought this up some time ago, and I think he may actually be onto something. Corey Patterson can’t see properly. If this is true, it would explain his hesitation and wandering around left field AND his inane baserunning mistakes. I don’t think he can pick up the ball at a distance.

    Obviously, he has no problem at 50 feet or less, as he’s hitting just fine. From 200-250 feet away, I think he’s guessing where the ball might be. Maybe he’s colourblind. Maybe he needs to borrow Ron Kittle’s specs. I doubt he’d ever admit to having a problem.

  4. Nix does have a lot of leadership and grit. He’s hustle and heart personified. I take it back…start him at second over Hill and hit him cleanup.

  5. I wonder just how spoiled we have been concerning our bullpen for the last 5-7 years. And perhaps that is one aspect of Ricardi’s tenure that was overlooked. He consistently put together a deep and very cheap bullpen each year (except for that little BJ debacle). Anyhow, our new savior does not seem so adept with that aspect of his job, and only seems interested in throwing out money on expensive and not so affective relievers.

  6. To “manufacture” a run means to score despite not getting minimal hits.

  7. Despite not getting minimal hits? Well played, Darnell, well played.

  8. Ricciardi got better in putting together bullpens over time. Maybe this is partly because the bullpen parts he brought in for 2002, 2003, and 2004 were so bad. I found it interesting he seemed to improve based on experience in this area but never seemed to improve from experience in handling contracts.

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