The On Deck Circle

The unofficial home of Real Talk

Jays v. Walker Texas Rangers - April 11-13

Posted by Blake Murphy on April 14, 2008

Everybody squish together tightly. Make some room. Don’t be afraid to sit close. You, maybe you should sit on your cousin’s lap to make more space. Now…please keep your arms and legs inside the bandwagon at all times, even if we happen to stumble across Billy Beane or Travis Buck. Fasten your seatbelts, because this will be a long ride and we don’t want all of you jumping off again at the first sign of trouble.

Yes, the haters have disappeared and the lovers are back (especially Power Ranking lovers). It wasn’t a pretty sweep and there were some troubling signs, but the Jays pulled out the trifecta against a woeful Texas Rangers club, in Arlington. Thus, not only have the Jays shown they can rebound from a bad series, but they also showed us they can do two things they haven’t consistently done the past few seasons:

Win consecutive games, also known as a ‘streak.’
Beat up on lesser teams.

Sure, the Jays struggled to take each individual game, but after they were a few plays away from sweeping Oakland instead of being swept, I’m sure everyone will take a few good bounces.

Friday April 11 – Toronto 8, Texas 5
Jesse Litsch avoided trouble for 5.2 innings, giving him two good starts on the season so far. The Kid has looked promising and doesn’t seem to have lost any of that rookie lustre, though it also appears he hasn’t lost the 10 pounds he claimed he lost, either. The bats were out big time, as they should be in Texas, and the Jays cashed in opportunities against Vicente Padilla to the tune of 8 runs on 17 base runners. The bullpen struggled but Scott Downs proved a stabilizing force in the short-term closer’s role, picking up his 3rd career save. Overbay started to look comfortable, Zaun had a good game, and Vernon continued to straight up stroke the ball with a 3-for-5 night. Oh, and remember how I wondered aloud if the running game was going to fade away? 4 SB and 1 CS later, and I am sufficiently pleased/horny.

Saturday April 12 – Toronto 4, Texas 1
Halladay notches a complete game, surprise, surprise, putting him on pace for 10 for the season. Seem unrealistic? Consider that he threw 7 of them last year in 31 starts and had 9 in 2003. That was pretty much the story here. That, and Aaron Hill stroking in the number 2 spot for 3 RBI. That is ‘Blake’s correct’ number one for the weekend, with the second to follow. Yes, I complained plenty about how Hill should hit 2nd and there are the results. You can thank me and me alone when the Jays win it all. Interesting, too, was that Hill cashed in Joe Inglett on one of those hits, a left-handed utility man called up from Triple-A to replace Buck Coats and spell Marco Scutaro, especially against righties. Scutaro is a great bench player but showed why he’s just that with some paltry numbers thus far. Inglett is a career .299 hitter in 68 games and flashes a decent mitt.

Sunday April 13 – Toronto 5, Texas 4 in 10 innings
This one was all about the return of B.J. Ryan. Enter ‘Blake’s correct’ number two, as Brandon League, not Jesse Carlson, was optioned down to Triple-A to clear the roster spot. He has options, yes, but the move is troubling considering how long the team has waited on him and the fact that he just can’t piece all parts of his game together at once. Anyways, Burnett looked shaky again but the bullpen threw 4.1 shutout innings, including a 10th inning by B.J. Ryan where he recovered from a lead-off triple to hold the 1-run lead provided by a Joe Inglett sacrifice fly. Ryan is so goddam intimidating on the mound it’s awesome. I’m cheering for him and I’m scared of him.

Overall Thoughts
Great series for the team, rebounding from a sweep to get one of their own. The team needs to take advantage of bad teams in a big way to compete this year, and this was a step in the right direction.

Positivies: The team attempted 7 steals this weekend giving them 19 on the season (2nd in the MLB); the bullpen is just unbelievable, with a 3.17 ERA through 12 games; Vernon and Aaron Hill are stroking the ball; the team is showing already it won’t settle for mediocrity, giving the interim closer role to Downs, moving Hill to 2nd in the order, calling up Inglett, etc.

Negatives: Rios had a bad series and is now hitting just .273, though he has walked 11 times; it’s officially ‘same old, same old’ for The Big Hurt, hitting .184; League and Accardo, potential future closers, are both struggling a great deal, one with control and the other with his money pitch.

Quick Hits
• Adam Lind and Robinson Diaz are disgusting at Triple-A right now, stroking the ball beautifully and making me wild crazy horny. Unfortunately, they’re the only ones, as Syracuse has those two sporting .350+ averages and the rest of the team hitting below the Mendoza line. Inglett was stroking, too, before the call-up.
• There isn’t a lot else to report from the minors, except that David Purcey has also looked good. Through 3 outings he has fanned 21 in 19 innings, posting a sub-2.00 ERA. For a former first round pick the team had almost written off, the 25-year old lefty is making a strong case for a rotation job should anyone struggle.
• Sad to see Buck Coats go, but it was a smart move to provide the line-up with another lefty. Sadly, none of our 3 lefties or switch hitter are that great, so when all four men play we have a righty heavy top and a lefty heavy bottom, a dream line-up for opposing managers who like to play the lefty-lefty, righty-righty bullpen game.
Hinske Watch: From time to time I’ll update everyone on your favorite ex-Jay scrubs (Towers, Adams, Phelps, Hinske, etc…and yes, I realize Adams is still in the system [hitting .190]), and today I wanted to point out that my claims of Eric Hinske as a fantasy sleeper weren’t so unfounded after all. First, he won a RF platoon with Gomes, then the starting third base job, and now the DH role, apparently. Sure, Tampa replaced him in right with Haynes and at third with Longoria, and sure, he’s platooning everywhere, but the stats don’t lie: .296 average with 2 home runs and 3 doubles, good for a 1.017 OPS. Eat your heart out, Bonds. *Hinske is un-owned in The ODC fantasy league.*
• Does anyone realize Kansas City has a 2.58 team ERA? And they’re 7-5? And Brain Bannister and Alex Gordon would sweep the awards if the season ended today? Umm…am I still drunk?

Looking Forward
The Jays stay on the road for a pair at Baltimore and then come home for a pair against Texas, again. There are four winnable games right there before facing the struggling Tigers at home. This is a very important time for Toronto, playing well while other teams find their legs. It will be necessary to take at least 3 of these 4 games, though 4 would be ideal, especially considering the pitching match-ups: McGowan-Marcum-Litsch-Halladay against Albers-Traschel-Gabbard-Padilla. Notice a trend in this segment so far – we always have the pitching advantage, in my opinion? That’s not homerism, that’s science. I’ll be back Friday with a dual series wrap-up, since they’re both two gamers.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>