The On Deck Circle

The unofficial home of Real Talk

Jays/Rays Series Review - The Hinske Bowl

Posted by Blake Murphy on April 25, 2008

Oww, my head! It is throbbing because:

a) The Jays dropped all three games to the Rays
b) That Disney stadium hurts to look at
c) The Jays hit 2/21 with RISP this series
d) My ego is inflating as Hinske’s numbers inflate

Sure, D is one of those good problems, as my boy Marlo says, but A and C are downright scary. Yes, yes, it’s far too early to panic, but when that becomes the motto of a team for an entire month, it may be time to start worrying about potentially panicking somewhere down the line.

That said, there are bright spots on the horizon. First, a look back at The Disney World Series, also known as Eric Hinske’s House Party 1 through 3.

Tuesday, April 22 – Tampa Bay 6, Toronto 4
A bad omen to start the series as Jesse Litsch looks awful (again) and the team fails to capitalize on a few free runs early. Litsch had little command and gave up 5 earned over 3.1 innings, and with Murphy, Purcey, Kane, and Romero all pitching well at Syracuse (granted, with limitations to their major league potential), Litsch may not have too much longer to iron things out. The team only managed eight base runners, they couldn’t score off of a bad bullpen, blah, blah. Same old for this series. The real story was Eric Hinske falling a single shy of the cycle (striking out instead) and falling a single shy of a new phrase (care of some commenter on DJF): The Eric Hinske Cycle (home run, triple, double, single, error – I contend a strike-out should be involved, too). The only bright spot in this one was Vernon going yard yet again.

Wednesday, April 23 – Tampa Bay 5, Toronto 3
Halladay goes the distance yet again…and loses, yet again. Sure, he gave up 5 over 8 innings, but he pitched well and you can never complain when a pitcher saves your bullpen for a day. Halladay has been doing a lot of that, as usual, and seems well on pace for the 10 complete games I predicted for him. Matt Stairs went yard twice, providing the only offense whatsoever and, you’ll never believe this, the man who comes out to Stone Cold Steve Austin’s music is now batting .316. I couldn’t make that up. The only other bright spot for the Jays was the steal-second/steal-third combo by Joe Inglett, continuing our pressure on the basepaths. For Tampa, it was a balanced attack led, of course, by an Eric Hinske RBI single.

Thursday, April 24 – Tampa Bay 5, Toronto 3
After looking like Nuke LaLoosh in the first two innings (5K, 0 hits), McGowan fell apart and failed to finish the 5th inning. I can take the occasional bad start from Dusty because he is still young, and this was his first of the year, but he’ll have to bounce back strong next week if he wants to remain my foremost man crush. The offense was atrocious again, stranding 7 of the 10 base runners they were given. The one highlight was Zaun’s heady take of home plate after a strange sacrifice bunt decision, taking home while Dioner Navaro was napping. It’s ridiculous that Tampa’s bullpen shut the Jays down for 9 shutout innings in this series, by the way – they suck. Hinske was the story (in my eyes) yet again, going 1-for-4 with 2 RBI, bringing his series line to 5/11 with a double, triple, homer, and 5 RBI. Ouch. You knew this was coming.

Quick Hits
I don’t have much time right now because I have an exam tomorrow, so I’ll forego the usual glut of ever-changing mini features and just throw down some random points.
• Syracuse lost Wednesday to snap their winning streak at 8, but they rebounded with a win and are an impressive 14-8 on the back of a very strong rotation.
• Scott Rolen rejoins the team today in Kansas City, and it couldn’t be a better time. Marco Scutaro has proven that being a good bench player does not make you a good starter, and Rolen’s return should really help the late-middle part of the order. Robinson Diaz will be sent down to continue to get regular at-bats after debuting with two hard-hit outs and an ugly strikeout.

• It is being speculated that Adam Lind will also join the team in KC tonight. I speculated earlier this week that the delay in his call-up was due to travel more than his neck injury (travelling from Pawtucket to Tampa to KC made no sense for one or two games when he could just make the shorter trip from Pawtucket to KC). The team hasn’t confirmed this as of this writing, but I’ll confirm/shoot down this rumor in the comments when I find out for sure. I definitely like the look of a Lind/Stewart/Stairs 3-man platoon splitting time at DH and LF more than a Stairs/Stewart LF platoon coupled with a Stairs/Barajas DH platoon. Lind has been raking at Syracuse, in case I haven’t reminded you enough.  There has been some discussion about firing John Gibbons, but I think this is very premature. Let’s wait until he’s had a chance to work in Lind and Rolen for a week or two before we call for the ax.
• The pitching match-ups, for the first time, don’t obviously favor the Jays. They shake down as Burnett-Marcum-Litsch against Greinke-Hochever-Meche. I’m not sure what to think of the 9-13 Royals right now because they clearly suck but have a lot of good players who can hurt you (specifically, Gordon and Butler).
• Frank Thomas has been picked up by the Oakland Athletics, and immediately went hitless yesterday (though he did have 2 walks and a run scored). You can expect him to have a season much like his last two, just don’t expect to see him hitting right away. You may want to tailor overall expectations, too, down to 25 HR and 75 RBI, given his even-slower-than-usual start and the fact that he may get random off-days to get playing time for Oakland’s stable of players with absolutely no fielding ability (Cust and Sweeney, specifically).

2 Responses to “Jays/Rays Series Review - The Hinske Bowl”

  1. Blake Murphy Says:

    Lind update, from Globe on Baseball’s Jeff Blair: Lind is being held back to keep from acquiring ‘Super-2′ arbitration status. The details are many and boring, but basically, specific players can get arbitration a year early if they meet certain requirements (usually playing time), and holding off on Lind a few extra days could mean an extra year where he’s not arbitration eligible (big savings).

    Blair expects Lind up this weekend, so…I guess all of that was fairly pointless. He’s not in the Syracuse line-up again tonight (could be his sore neck or a pending call up)…I don’t know, I won’t pretend to be an insider or know more than others, but I’m going to guess it’s a combination of a sore neck, the service time thing, and the team trying to figure out if there is a better solution available.

  2. Blake Murphy Says:

    Update: Lind was called up today, is in the lineup, and is now the FULL TIME left fielder for the Jays. The Stewart/Stairs platoon will now be at the DH spot, and Lind will get everyday playing time.

    One word to describe my feelings on that: Fuck Yeah!

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