The pitching: All things considered, it was a pretty encouraging start for Brandon Morrow. He only managed to go 5 innings, but that was more because of the Indians fouling off a ton of pitches and going deep in to at bats than it was any control issues for Morrow. He only allowed 3 hits, and only one to players not named Michael Brantley.
Aaron Loup relieved Morrow with the Jays up 4-2 in the 6th and could not get the job done. He only lasted 2/3 of an inning, allowing 3 runs on 1 hit and 3 walks, which ballooned his ERA from 2.25 to 5.19. Neil Wagner came in and allowed a run, but the game was already decided at that point. There’s nothing more frustrating than a guy coming out of the bullpen and not being able to find the zone. It seems to be a disturbing trend forming recently for the Jays.
The lineup: The Jays scored 4 runs on Carlos Carrasco in just under 6 innings of work after he was perfect through the first 3 innings. They managed to load the bases in the 9th on John Axford, but Edwin Encarnacion grounded out. Here are some thoughts on the lineup 1-9:
Jose Reyes looked good, going 2-5 with a run and RBI. Having him and Melky hitting in front of Jose Bautista and (eventually) Encarnacion should provide them with plenty of opportunities to drive in runs.
Melky Cabrera went 2-4 with a walk and stole a base, and is now 3-3 on the year swiping bags. Not having a tumour in his back this year appears to be making a big difference.
Jose Bautista got things started for the Jays offensively with an RBI single to right field in the 4th. It’s encouraging to see him using the whole field and it certainly looks like he’s making an extra effort this year to go to opposite field to beat the shift. Here’s a look at his spray chart from 2012 & 2013 (left) and 2014 (right) via FanGraphs (click to enlarge):
As you can see, his power is still to left field, but it looks like he’s been focusing on hitting the ball to right field based on the fly balls and ground balls he’s hitting. It’s nothing drastic, but it seems like he’s adjusted his approach at the plate and this year’s spray chart indicates he’s hitting the ball to all fields a bit more evenly than 2012-13. He also continues to be an on base machine, going 1-3 with 2 walks.
Edwin Encarnacion’s struggles continue, going 0-4. He put together a pretty good at bat in the 9th against Axford with the bases loaded and hit a decently sharp ground ball, but it was right in to the shift. He just does not look comfortable at the plate at all right now, swinging and missing at a breaking ball WAY outside the zone on the first pitch of at bat earlier in
Juan Francisco looks like a decent enough as 2 week replacement for Adam Lind, going 1-3 with a walk.
Brett Lawrie proves that RBI is a stupid stat, volume 436: Lawrie is hitting .127 and has 12 RBI. “He’s a clutch hitter!!!” No, there happen to be people on base when he grounds out.
Colby Rasmus 0-4 drops his average below the Mendoza line. He and Lawrie are black holes right now.
Josh Thole continues to do more than you could ever dream of at the plate for a backup catcher, going 2-4 today.
Ryan Goins continues to not be Stephen Drew. He’s struggling to keep his OPS above 0 at this point, which should say it all.
Final thought: The Blue Jays are 10-9 on Easter this year. On April 20th last year, they were 7-11 and in dead last in the AL East. For some reason, things feel a little bit more hopeful around this team. This week’s series against the Orioles and Red Sox, who are both currently behind the Jays in the standings, will be a big measuring stick.
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