AL East Roundup: 5/11/09 through 5/17/09

Toronto Blue JaysBlue Jays Daze

Any week that has Doc Halladay pitching twice is a week Jays fans look forward to for good reason. Doc didn’t disappoint while setting the tone against the Yankees against AJ, his old team mate and newest Blue Jay nemesis. Doc pitched a complete game gem against a somewhat diminished Yankee lineup that was missing Jeter, Swisher, and Posada, but still took care of business. He only needed 103 pitches to complete his outing. While Doc’s performance was to be expected, the fact that Burnett was booed every single time he threw a strike and jeered more than Arod surprised many of us. While it is true that Burnett became just another player chasing the money he supposedly deserves in New York, he deserves to be made aware that he sold out.

Back to the Jays week, I have to admit the Yankee pitching surprised me after the first game of the series. CC and Andy threw some very strong games supplemented by some stellar pen innings I had no idea the Yanks relievers could deliver. I expected the Jays hitters to have some struggles this season, but hoped they would come against other opponents. For the Jays, Richmond obviously looked shell shocked and definitely had no faith in his stuff for the first time this season. I’m not really sure why it happened, but I hope that he learns from the experience and works on his tenacity. His rough outing was followed by yet another surprising start by Tallet who held his own over 6 innings allowing only 2 runs. Either way, he wasn’t beating CC and the Jays hitters took the 2 games off, leaving Richmond and Tallet to fend for themselves.

As the weekend series versus the White Sox started, the Jays has hungry hitters on the prowl and did they delivered enough to sweep the weekend. Friday’s game had Bret Cecil throwing a great game to go along with 8 runs of support, resulting in Bret’s second win in a row. Lind and Bautista delivered the two required RBIs in the 8th inning on Saturday in support of Robert Ray, who lasted 8 innings with no earned runs. Scott Downs got the save and seems to have a good hold on the role. And finally the Jays supported their Doc with another 8 run effort led by none other than Aaron Hill. I’d like to advertise for Aaron for very good reason. As we begin to vote for the All-Star game, I would suggest that Aaron’s stats deserve to be compared to Utley’s and Kinsler’s to prove just how special he has been this season. I hope all voters will give him the thumbs up, he deserves it.

Week’s Record: 4-2

Season Record: 26-14

Injuries: Michael Barrett (Shoulder), Jesse Litsch (Right Forearm – cleared to resume throwing), Shaun Marcum (Elbow), Dustin McGowan (Labrum), Ricky Romero (Threw in AAA May 13th), Casey Janssen (made 3 starts in HiA Dunedin).

This Week: Mon CHICAGO; Tue-Thu @Boston; Fri-Sun @Atlanta
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AL East Roundup: 5/4/09 through 5/10/09

Toronto Blue JaysBlue Jays Daze

In terms of series, the Jays split the 2-game series with LAA and CLE, and each time they came up with at least one 10+ run game. The 3-game series against Oakland series was a won the Jays (2-1). There was nothing particularly different about this week for the Jays, as they put up 45 runs during the week for a 6.5 run per game average. This average was achieved despite the Jays meeting their match in Jered Weaver, and I’m sure other teams will pour over his outing to see how he was able to 3 hit this offense while allowing only 1 run in a complete game gem.

Throughout the week, the key to their offensive effectiveness continued to be hitting throughout the lineup. Each day or night it seemed that all except maybe 1 or 2 guys were getting their hits, and most of them with men on base. Lind, Overbay, and Hill had really strong weeks, while Snider went 2 for 4 four times this week to help out his average. Overall, the offense continued to clobber opposing pitching and was supplemented by very effective pitching.

The bullpen, however, had a horrible start to the week, with Camp, League, and Carlson allowing 3 runs a piece. Rookie Bret Cecil turned in two excellent outings and may have forced Cito to give him another look instead of calling up the now healthy Casey Janssen. He threw 6 innings with 1 ER and 6 Ks in his first outing against a very good CLE lineup, and followed it up with an 8 inning game with 5 hits allowed, no earned runs, 2 walks and 6 Ks.

Most notable for the Jays this week was how efficiently the starting pitching was able to pitch. Monday and Tuesday’s outings by the pen must have really scared the starters into lasting longer into the games, because from then on they went over 7 innings with only 1 ER four times, with only Robert Ray lasting 6.1 innings. What did this mean for the suddenly unconfident pen? Well, from Wednesday to Sunday they pitched a total of 6.2 innings, with only 68 pitches thrown by 5 guys. So as we head into the following week, we have a fresh pen, extremely confident starting pitching, 3 more starters ready to return when needed (Romero, Purcey, and Janssen), and an offense that just seems to keep clicking.

Week’s Record: 4-3

Season Record: 22-12

Injuries: Michael Barrett (Shoulder), Jesse Litsch (Right Forearm – cleared to resume throwing), Shaun Marcum (Elbow), Dustin McGowan (Labrum), Ricky Romero (Threw in Single A May 8th), BJ Ryan (Throwing in HiA Dunedin), Casey Janssen (made 3 starts in HiA Dunedin).

This Week: Tue-Thu NEW YORK; Fri-Sun CHICAGO
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AL East Roundup: 4/27/09 through 5/3/09

Toronto Blue JaysBlue Jays Daze

Note: Everyone welcome Mat, our new Jays contributor. And be sure to check out his new blog, Blue Jays Daze (linked above).

If Baseball was the board game “Clue”, the first half of the past week Jays murderers would have been described like this: it was the Butler, in Kauffman Stadium, with a big bad stick and a hell of a pitching staff! The Jays lost their first series of the season while losing 3 of 4 against the Royals. Billy Butler, the newest Jays killer, took his average from .193 to .262 over the last 2 games of the series while going 6 of 8 with 2 homers, 2 doubles, 5 RBI and 6 runs scored. The KC pitching staff helped him out with stellar performances from Bannister, Greinke, and Davies, although the Jays offense did become the only team able to score runs against Greinke this season. The Jays were also able to make a partial comeback Thursday, making the final 8-6 after being down 8-2 after the 5th inning. Other positives for the Jays include Scott Richmond’s strong start during an 8-1 victory on Tuesday (the one game Butler sat out), as well as strong performances from the bullpen, aside from RHP Bryan Bullington who has since been demoted to AAA. He will be joined by starter LHP Brian Burres who thankfully takes his ugly 14.21 ERA with him and should not be back with the Jays as long as better options exist.

The second half of the week was critical to the Jays ending their mini-slump, and was much kinder to the Jays offense and pitching. While Doc Halladay didn’t have one of his best starts on Friday, he did last 8 innings that allowed the pen some time to rest and the offense took the lead with 8 runs scored. Saturday’s extra innings 5-4 win was even more encouraging. It included Robert Ray’s first career start, which was solid, and was followed with the usual shut down performance of the Jays elite bullpen who shut out the Orioles over the last 5.1 innings of the game. The only run the O’s scored was unearned due to an Aaron Hill miscue, but he more than made up for it with a game tying HR in the same inning followed by a game winning single in the 11th. The opposite things occurred to Travis Snider this week, who made 3 key defensive plays but struggled at the plate and now sports a .229 average. The bullpen was effective as usual and deserves the praise it get. Carlson and Downs shut down the end of the week and the O’s on Sunday, which allowed Richmond’s great 7 inning performance to result in his 4th win of the season. Overall, the series against the Orioles was a much needed return to winning for the Jays who took 3 of 3 from their division rivals.

Week’s Record: 4-3

Season Record: 18-9

Injuries: Nil

This Week: Mon – Wed CLEVELAND; Thur – Sun @Anaheim
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AL East Roundup: 4/20/09 through 4/26/09

Toronto Blue Jays

Note: Still no Jays blogger. Anyone know someone? Anyone want to just write the recap weekly? Better from a Jays fan than a Yanks one. Hit me: josephp at riveraveblues dot com.

The Jays continued to roll through the season’s third week, taking two out of three from each of their opponents. Their week started and ended with Roy Halladay, who had an uncharacteristic performance on Tuesday, surrendering five runs over eight innings. This is why we need a Jays blogger to take this. Halladay had allows three through six innings, and then another two in the seventh. He tossed just 104 pitches in those eight innings, and struck out nine with no walks. The start didn’t seem all that bad, but it’s still five runs and a loss in the box score. He came back to win on Sunday, but his line, other than the earned runs, doesn’t look as impressive: 7 IP, 3 ER, 6 K, 1 BB, 118 pitches. So he used more pitches in fewer innings, struck out fewer, walked more, and allowed fewer runs. This baseball is an odd game.

Following the Halladay loss, the Jays took an 11-inning affair 8-7 on a Kevin Millar walk-off single. The Jays were actually up 7-4 heading into the top of the ninth, but B.J. Ryan hit a guy and issued a walk to lead off the frame, and it all came unraveled from there. An error and a Michael Young home run later and the game was headed to extras. Thursday was another good start for Kevin Millwood, though he did allow three home runs. The overall damage was limited to four runs over seven innings, and the Jays finished taking two of three from the Rangers.

In Chicago the Jays opened by simply massacring the Sox 14-0 on 21 hits. Lyle Overbay was the only starter to go hitless in the affair. The Sox turned the tables the next day, defeating Brian Burres and the Jays 10-2. Then finally, in the aforementioned Halladay start on Sunday, the Jays took the game 4-3 on a go-ahead single by Scott Rolen in the eighth. Few expected the Jays to play like this, but their offense has been clicking and the pitching staff has been doing the job, despite the flurry of injuries (McGowan, Marcum, Litsch, now Romero and Ryan).

Week’s record: 4-2

Season record: 14-6

Injuries: LHP B.J. Ryan (15-day DL, soreness between shoulder and back), LHP Ricky Romero (15-day DL, strained muscle on right side).

This week: Mon – Thu @Kansas City; Fri – Sun BALTIMORE
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AL East Roundup: 4/13/09 through 4/19/09

Toronto Blue Jays

None of the Jays replacements we’ve contacted have come through, so you’re going to have to deal with ol’ Joe’s recap of the Blue Jays week. It’s a shame none of their bloggers stepped up, because they’re off to a remarkable start. They sit atop the AL East which, while it likely won’t last long, has to be music to Jays fans’ ears. With all the talk about the Sox, Yanks, and Rays, it must be nice looking down at them.

The week started off rough, with Jesse Litsch getting roughed up for four runs over three innings on Monday. Worse, he’s now on the 15-day DL with a right forearm strain, never a good omen. He won’t even throw a baseball for two weeks, and his return is currently set at four to six weeks, but that might be optimistic. Still, they came back and won it for Litsch. Travis Snider went deep for the second time in the game and gave the Jays an 8-6 win. After taking three of four from Minnesota, the Jays stomped the A’s for two out of three over the weekend. It could have been a sweep, but Brandon League blew Friday’s game in the eighth, allowing three runs for an 8-5 A’s comeback.

Week’s record: 5-2

Season record: 10-4

Injuries: RHP Jesse Litsch (15-day DL, forearm strain)

This week: Tue – Thu TEXAS; Fri – Sun @Chicago
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AL East roundup: 4/6/09 through 4/12/09

In an effort to keep our readers up to date with our most direct rivals, RAB has gotten together with a number of AL East bloggers to produce a weekly AL East roundup. Every Monday you’ll get a capsule of each division rival’s past week. It’s a basic summary of the week’s happenings, followed by team record, injuries, and a look at the week to come. If you’ve got some free time, be sure to check out the blogs we’ve partnered with. They’re passionate fans of their respective teams and provide excellent coverage.

Boston Red SoxSurviving Grady

Tough going out of the gate for the Sox, dropping 2 of 3 to the Rays at Fenway to kick off the season, then hopping a flight to the left coast where they dropped another 2 of 3 to the Angels. Hey, it’s only the first week, but a couple things have us concerned: After Josh Beckett’s stellar performance in the season opener, Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Timmy Wakefield struggled. Brad Penny didn’t fare much better in his Sox debut against Anaheim, but was saved by some timely offense. Speaking of hitting, the team’s first full season of Life After Manny may be tougher than we’d imagined; through the first six games, the team is averaging just 3.4 runs per game, and some of the big guns we’re counting on — Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, JD Drew and Mike Lowell — are a wretched 10-for-65 combined.

On the bright side, Youk is tearing it up at .526, and Rocco Baldelli has been a pleasant surprise thus far, legging out a key hit in Saturday’s game against Anaheim and flashing some pretty imrpessive leather in the field. This week it’s on to Oakland for three games, then back home for Baltimore. Things should be getting better fast. Or so I pray to the Gods of Baseball.

Week’s record: 2-4

Season record: 2-4

Injuries: None

This week: Mon – Wed @ Oakland; Fri – Sun BALTIMORE

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