The Jays take the opener of their series in the Bronx against the Yankees with a 7-3 win.  Carlos Villanueva made his first start since the last day of the season in 2009 and pitch five very good innings to pick up the win, while J.P Arencibia was two for four with four runs batted in and, oh yeah, that Jose Bautista guy hit another homerun, his Major League leading 19th of the season.

Anatomy of a five-run inning
With the score tied at one, the Jays blew the game wide open in the top of the sixth inning against Yankees’ starter Bartolo Colon.  The inning was set up by a leadoff double by Corey Patterson, followed by an intentional walk to Jose Bautista.  The talk heading into the game tonight was about how John Farrell was worried that teams would start to pitch around Jose Bautista and intentionally walk him more often.  The topic continued into the game when Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler were waxing on and on about how there needed to be someone hot hitting behind Bautista so he wouldn’t be intentionally walked as if that was a bad thing for the Jays.  Tonight was a perfect example of why we, as Jays’ fans, should love the fact that teams are now pitching around Bautista.  It’s not as if it will really effect his homerun hitting, after all he continues to do that quite regularly.  Here’s how the inning broke down.

  • Corey Patterson drives a ball deep to right that Yankee rightfielder Chris Dickerson misjudges.  The ball hits off the base of the wall and Patterson ends up at second with a double.
  • Yankee manager Joe Girardi decides to intentionally walk Jose Bautista.
  • Yunel Escobar sacrifices the runners over to second and third with a bunt, one out.
  • The Yankees decide after a conference on the mound to intentionally walk Juan Rivera, setting up a force at every base by loading them up.
  • Aaron Hill singles to leftfield on the first pitch he sees, Patterson scores and the bases remain loaded, 2-1 Jays.
  • Rookie Eric Thames draws a four-pitch walk to force in another run and keep the bases loaded, 3-1.
  • J.P. Arencibia lines a pitch to right-centerfield and ends up at second base with a bases-clearing double, 6-1.
  • Edwin Encarnacion strikes out looking, two out.
  • Rajai Davis grounds out back to Colon to end the inning. 

Most important play(s) of the game
Arencibia’s three-run double increased Toronto’s chances of winning by .115, while Hill’s single two batters earlier increased the chance by .114.  The bases-loaded walked to Eric Thames helped the Jays by .087 and Bautista’s first inning homerun helped the Jays by .091.

Despite the four-RBI performance by Arencibia, Bautista was the most valuable position-player on the field for Toronto with a WPA of .135.  Villanueva had a WPA of .191 to lead the team overall.

Biggest opportunity missed
In the bottom of the fourth, the Yankees appeared to be getting to Carlos Villanueva.  Curtis Granderson led off the inning with a walk (something he did three times tonight) and then Mark Teixeira laced a groundball through the right side for a single, moving Granderson to third with none out.  Alex Rodriguez stepped to the plate and proceeded to strike out swinging, decreasing his team’s chances of winning by -.073.  Does anyone else get a warm fuzzy feeling inside when A-Rod fails?

The aggravating things that John Farrell did
John Farrell’s lineup construction was a little wonky tonight.  He decided to put Davis back in the leadoff spot and move Yunel Escobar to the cleanup spot behind Bautista.  Given that Escobar tends to get on base a lot more effectively than Davis, this was a curious move.  As Dustin and I have both said in the past, it makes more sense to keep Davis and his speed down in the six or seven spot, while letting high-on-base guys lead off, like Escobar.

That move immediately came back to haunt Farrell as in the first inning, Davis was caught stealing second with one out and Bautista at the plate.  Yep, it’s always a good idea to risk eliminating a base-runner when your best hitter’s at the plate.

Another weird element to Farrell’s lineup was batting Eric Thames ahead of J.P. Arencibia.  This is really not that big of a deal, but it still seemed odd to me.  Anyone else think so?

Shutdowns/Meltdowns
No relievers for either team pitched with enough leverage to earn a shutdown or a meltdown.

Statistics you won’t believe
Only four players in the American League (Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Adrian Beltre, and Paul Konerko) have even half the number of homeruns that Bautista has.  When was the last time we could say that about anyone this late in the year?

Villanueva allowed just one run and two hits over his five innings of work, walking just one and striking out five.  His FIP for the day was 1.80 and he threw only 75 pitches.

Stray Observations of the Game
Buck and Tabs were at it again tonight.  Buck contradicted himself within a two-minute span, first saying that the Jays’ needed to have a hot hitter hitting behind Bautista to prevent the other team from pitching around him, then immediately turning around and saying that it really didn’t matter who hit behind him, they were going to do it regardless.

Do you ever notice that Tabler repeats himself all the time?  Seriously, I don’t know how many times I’ve heard him say that Jon Rauch “will come right after ya” or “he loves to pound the strike zone”.  He also manages to throw in the Rod Carew/Robinson Cano comparison every time the Yankees play the Jays.  I watch a lot of baseball and as bad as some other announcers can be, none of them seem to repeat themselves as much as he does.  It gets really annoying when you can practically predict what’s going to come out of his mouth next based on who he’s talking about.

I will give Tabler points, however, for mentioning the Runs Created stat in reference to Jose Bautista.

Curtis Granderson may be my favourite Yankee of all time.  Not only is he a very good player, but you can tell everyone on the field loves him.  It’s nice to see a little personality thrown into that corporate empire known as the Yankee organization.