Once again, while the regular crew here at Getting Blanked is out enjoying their weekend with hookers and blow* I’ll give you a Sunday game recap. There would have been one up yesterday if only Sportsnet One didn’t exist, but I digress.
The Blue Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles today on the strength of two homeruns and four total hits from recently re-activated first baseman Adam Lind. They took the game 7-4 as Jo-Jo Reyes earned his second win in a row after going 29 starts without a victory. Jeremy Guthrie took the loss for Baltimore after surrendering two more homeruns, bringing his total to 12, tying him for third in the AL.
Lind’s four-hit, two-homerun performance was a welcome sight for Jays’ fans after he’d spent almost a month on the DL with back problems. In his two games since returning, Lind has reached base in five of his eight plate appearances.
Reyes pitched six-and-a-third innings, allowing three runs on five hits, walking four and striking out three. Casey Janssen, Jason Frasor, and Jon Rauch closed out the game to seal the victory.
Anatomy of a successful comeback
Adam Lind’s huge day at the plate was interesting because he seemed to hit the ball harder each time he came up. All four of his hits were on the opposing pitcher’s secondary offerings, rather than fastballs, something that he has done all season long.
Lind’s single in the first inning came on an attempted back-door slider from Guthrie that was well outside on a 3-2 pitch; Lind stung it to leftfield for a single.
Then, in the third, Lind hit another single off of Guthrie, this time ripping an 0-1 curveball off the base of the rightfield wall, scoring Corey Patterson from second. The first pitch in that at-bat was a changeup on the outer-half, the pitch he hit was in nearly the same location, but 10 mph slower, speeding up his bat and allowing him to crush it.
In the fifth, Lind hit his first of two homeruns, again off of Guthrie, by parking a 1-1 slider into the bleachers in right-centerfield. The pitch was again on the outer-half of the plate.
Finally in the seventh, Lind crushed a 1-2 splitter from Alfredo Simon to almost the same place as his first. Two pitches before he tagged the homerun, Lind was given another splitter, out of the zone which he swung on and missed. The second time Simon went back to that pitch, he left it up in the zone and Lind nailed it.
Most important play(s) of the game
Yunel Escobar’s three-run homerun in the top of the fourth inning increased the Jays’ chances of winning by 30.2%. Adam Lind contributed most to the Jays win overall increasing his team’s chance of winning by 28.5%, Escobar helped by 22.7%.
Biggest opportunity missed
Even though the Jays won the game, Aaron Hill grounding into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double-play in the top of the third ended up being the biggest missed opportunity in the game by either team. The Jays had just tied the contest at two on an Adam Lind RBI-single deep off the rightfield wall leaving Jose Bautista standing at third base. That play decreased the Jays’ chances of winning by nearly 13%
For the Orioles, Mark Reynolds grounded into a similar inning-ending 5-4-3 double play with two on in the bottom of the sixth, decreasing Baltimore’s chances of winning by 10.8%.
The aggravating things that John Farrell did
Farrell didn’t seem to manage his way into trouble at all today, which is after all, what you want from your manager. There were no questionable stolen base attempts or sacrifice attempts and he did a decent job of managing the bullpen, although yanking Casey Janssen after two-thirds of an inning and only nine pitches when he hadn’t pitched in five days seemed odd. Ultimately it does keep him fresh if they need him tomorrow, so I can’t complain too much
Neither team had relievers pitch with enough leverage to record a shutdown or a meltdown.
Statistics you won’t believe
A lot has been made of Jo-Jo Reyes’ winless streak, but in his first 10 starts when he wasn’t winning, he posted a FIP of 4.39. In the two starts since, both wins, his FIP is 4.70. In those starts, Reyes has walked eight, striking out only seven in 15.1 innings; yet another reason why the win statistic fails to tell you much.
Vladimir Guerrero walked today for only the fifth time all season long. He came into the game with a 2.2% walk-rate. Guerrero has always had a reputation of being a free swinger, but his career walk rate is a respectable 8.3%.
A lot was made of the Orioles acquiring Vladimir Guerrero, Derrek Lee, and Mark Reynolds this offseason. Some thought it would bring the Orioles their first winning season in a very long time. We here at Getting Blanked thought it was a less-than-intelligible way of building a team with as much of a losing track record as Baltimore. The Orioles will pay those three players a combined $20.25-million this year, and they’ll also pay Reynolds another $7.5-million next year. Those three have a combined slash line of .241/.312/.378 with a wOBA of .308, and an fWAR of -0.2. Not to mention that David Hernandez, one of the two relievers sent to Arizona to acquire Reynolds, has a 1.65 ERA and a 10.21 K/9 rate in the desert. How’s the strategy working out?
Stray Observations of the Game
I know Asdrubal Cabrera has been very good this season for Cleveland, but to me, when defense is factored in (something Cabrera gets way too much credit for), Yunel Escobar is the best shortstop in the AL. I still think that trade last year that sent Alex Gonzalez, Tim Collins, and Tyler Pastornicky to Atlanta for Escobar and Jo-Jo Reyes was one of the best trades I’ve seen in a long time.
Like Corey Patterson, Rajai Davis takes some interesting routes to flyballs in the outfield and seems to make up for it with his speed; a very dangerous tactic. Twice today, Davis looked very awkward. I attended two games this past week in Toronto; the 13-4 blowout over the White Sox last Sunday afternoon, and the 13-9 loss to the Indians on Wednesday night (I sat beside acting bench coach Luis Rivera…no seriously, I was nine rows back of home plate). In both games, Davis looked terrible in centerfield with the exception of one catch. He also dropped a ball in the eight-run third inning against Cleveland. I know he had a significant decline defensively in his last few years here, but at least Vernon Wells took solid routes to the ball. That is something I think we took for granted as a fan base.
Remember when Nolan Reimold almost won the Rookie of the Year Award in 2009?
This definitely warrants its own post, but I found myself getting irritated today when Alan Ashby and Buck Martinez started talking about the draft. They both said they agreed with a hard slotting system so that players entering the professional ranks wouldn’t be commanding expensive bonuses, something that will surely come up during the CBA negotiations this off-season. They seem to think that the current system furthers the gap between the rich and the poor. This is an odd observation since it’s often the smaller market teams that go over-slot on premium talent more often because it’s a huge bargain to do so.
Consider this: last year, all 30 teams combined to spend a record $196-million on draft bonuses, which seems high until you realize that’s just $6.5-million per team on average. So basically, for the cost of one free-agent reliever, a team can sign all its draft picks and keep control over them for six years. How is it that this is seen as a huge waste of money by MLB and certain commentators? Also, a hard slotting system will make it harder for baseball to keep premium athletes from choosing football or basketball where there is more money and the road to the pros is immediate rather than over a period of a few years. I hate the idea of a hard-slot system.
Finally, Alan Ashby brought up that Jose Bautista was the type of player who hustles all the time, and that this is how every player should play. Now, I’m never going to hate on a player running out every ground ball, but how much would Ashby enjoy watching Bautista pull a hamstring running out a routine grounder, forcing him to spend time on the DL? Sometimes, at the Major League level, maybe it’s okay to pull up when a play looks to be a for-sure out.
*Probably not true