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
Boston Red Sox – Surviving Grady
Not much to complain about in Red Sox Nation this week, the Sox haven’t lost a game. Monday they played the traditional Patriot’s Day morning game and completed a 4-game sweep of the Orioles with a dominating 12-1 victory. After a washout on Tuesday, the Sox played two against the Twins on Wednesday. Tim Wakefield pitched his second consecutive complete game in the first match-up, a rain-shortened seven inning affair. The offense was fueled with homers off the bats of Lowell, Nick Green, and the Bearded Wonder Kevin Youkilis. The second game featured Brad Penny and a Jeff Bailey homer on the way to a 7-3 win. Thursday was a scheduled off-day, giving everyone a chance to stock up on red meat, cheap beer and bail money as the Yankees were coming on Friday.
The rivalry lived up to its reputation on Friday evening. The Yanks took a 2-run lead into the ninth, only to see Mariano Rivera cough it up when Jason Bay smashed a game-tying homer. The Sox bullpen out-dueled the Yankee pen and Youk ended things in the 11th with a walk-off homer. Saturday’s game – what should have been a pitching duel between Beckett and Burnett – turned into an old-fashioned barn-burner. Each team hit 3 homeruns, but it was the Red Sox bullpen again that outlasted New York. Mike Lowell had a 3-run shot and Jason Varitek, perhaps the worst bases-loaded hitter in the game, belted a grand slam. Twelve pitchers, 385 pitches, 28 hits and 27 runs kept the scorekeepers busy in the 4 hour and 21 minute marathon.
On Sunday, the series concludes with Pettitte versus Masterson and audio-pain that is Joe Morgan on ESPN. (ed note: move along, nothing to see here…)
Week’s record: 6-0
Season record: 12-6
Injuries: OF Rocco Baldelli (15-day DL, strained left hamstring)
This week: Mon – Wed @Cleveland; Thu – Sun @Tampa Bay
Baltimore Orioles – Dempsey’s Army
The Orioles started the week with a 12-1 shellacking from the Red Sox on Patriot’s Day and ended the week with a late rally and a three-run homer by Adam Jones to salvage a win against Texas at Camden Yards. The rest of the week’s results were just as varied. The Orioles managed to lose is varied ways this week (blowouts, blown leads, late rallies falling short) and the pitching staff is pretty painful to watch. But there were some bright spots.
Rookie RHP Brad Bergesen debuted on Tuesday and shut down the White Sox with a punishing sinker that induced grounders at an impressive rate. Bergesen got knocked around a bit by Texas on Sunday but he has the makings of a good ground ball type pitcher which is a plus in Camden Yards. He’ll probably be good enough to be a back of the rotation guy but right now is probably the third best pitcher in the rotation.
RHP Koji Uehara pitched a nice game against Texas on Friday (6.2 IP, 4 H. 3 ER, 0 BB, 6 K) and looks to be able to hold his own against some tough AL lineups. He won’t win the Cy Young but should be able to keep his ERA below 4.50.
RHP Adam Eaton got the win over the White Sox on Thursday while striking out 9 over 7+ innings. We’ll take the miracle but do not expect it to continue.
The bullpen is still going through growing pains but the coaches seem to be finding roles for people. Jamie Walker has turned into a strict LOOGY. Outside of one bad outing Matt Albers looks good coming back from shoulder surgery. Ditto for Chris Ray who after two bad outings to start the year hasn’t given up a run in his last 5 outings. Jim Johnson continues to do good work as the primary setup man. Even Danys Baez is looking like a decent reliever again and Brian Bass has settles down as well. George Sherrill…let me digress…
I am fine with Sherrill as the Oriole closer. I am not a fan of having your very best reliever in the closer role…sometimes that guy is wasted on a three run lead in the 9th. But Sherrill is fine with a two or three run in the 9th. He is not great but has only blown one save this season and that’s when they tried to have him pitch more than one inning. I like him. He brings good value even if he is flawed.
The Orioles lineup is producing runs to keep up with just about anyone in the AL. The Big Three of Brian Roberts, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis are wearing out opposing pitching staffs with all three sporting OPS’s well north of .900. Adding Aubrey Huff (.863 OPS) and Luke Scott (.889) to the mix helps mask the weak bats of Cesar Izturis, Gregg Zaun and Felix Pie. Baltimore fans can dream on this lineup and imagine what it will look like once Matt Wieters arrives from Norfolk.
Speaking of Norfolk, Matt Wieters returned from a strained hamstring to go 3 for 13 while serving as the team’s DH this week. LF Nolan Reimold continues to destroy AAA pitching. He is hitting .417 with 6 homers (including two on Sunday) and could be in Baltimore after the All-Star break. Reimold was a 2nd round pick in 2005 but has battled injuries during his minor league career. Last year he stayed completely healthy and put up nice numbers at AA Bowie. If he can stay on the field, he could join Adam Jones and Nick Markakis as part of a young dynamic Baltimore outfield for years to come.
Notes: Nick Markakis now has a 13 game hitting streak, the second longest of his young career, He put together a 17 game streak last season. He has also reached base safely in 19 straight games…It was not a no-brainer to have CF Adam Jones bat 2nd and move 3B Melvin Mora down further in the lineup but has worked out very well as Jones has posted a .323/.403/.548 line in the 2 hole.
Week’s record: 3-4
Season record: 9-10
Injuries: RHP Alfredo Simon – Elbow (Out for Season), 3B Melvin Mora – Hamstring (Out until early May), LHP Rich Hill – Elbow (Out until mid-May), UT Ryan Freel – Concussion (Indefinitely)
This Week: Monday TEXAS; Tue – Wed ANAHEIM, Fri – Sun @Toronto
Tampa Bay Rays – Rays of Light
One team has to be in last place; unfortunately for the Rays, that team is the defending American League Champions. And, let’s be honest, the team has no one to blame but itself for its current standing. It’s not hitting and it’s not pitching. At that point, it’s pretty darn hard to win ballgames. The biggest issue for the Rays is that the bullpen is allowing an ERA over 2 runs higher than it did last season. Couple that with struggles of Matt Garza and Andy Sonnanstine, and you’ve got the recipe for a 7-12 record, 6 1/2 games behind Toronto for first place in the division.
The Rays hope that a trip into the Metrodome – a place that has been good to the team in the past – will be just what the doctor ordered to get off this snide. They’d better hope whatever’s wrong is corrected soon; a pivotal 4-game set against the red-hot Red Sox opens up this weekend at Tropicana Field. It’ll take more than just Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena to carry the team. Hits will need to be strung together. Pitchers will need to work deep into games. The bullpen will need to get key outs. Essentially, the Rays need the exact opposite of everything that’s happened so far to go down.
Week’s record: 2-4
Season record: 7-12
Injuries: Shawn Riggans (shoulder tendonitis) – 15-day-DL, Jason Isringhausen (began rehab assignment) – 15-day-DL
This week: Mon – Wed @Minnesota; Thur – Sun BOSTON