No, I’m the ace of the Blue Jays! No, I am! No, I AM!
A simplistic (and arguably childish) description of the Blue Jays’ rotation at current. R.A. Dickey, while he hasn’t pitched like one consistently, was acquired to lead this rotation, but I spoke last night about how Drew Hutchison was pitching like an ace by battling through adversity and eating through innings, even when he’s not at his best.
Mark Buehrle was acquired as an innings-eater (and expensive after-thought) in the Jose Reyes/Josh Johnson trade. Many thought his best days were behind him. And after two months last season, it seemed like they were right. Boy has he proven them wrong.
He dropped his ERA from 7.02 on May 6 of last year all the way down to 3.88 on September 4. A disastrous next start ensured his 2013 ERA would be above 4, but he’d clearly figured something out.
After his 7 scoreless innings tonight (with 2 walks, 6 Ks and only 3 hits allowed), his numbers this season: 43 hits in 47 innings with only 10 earned runs allowed. 12 walks, 29 strikeouts. He’s pitched into the 7th inning or later in five of his seven starts. He’s allowed one run or less in five of seven. He’s been really good.
And tonight, he out-dueled another great lefty in Cliff Lee, who pitched six quality innings before hitting a wall in the 7th – a 7th in which the Blue Jays offence exploded for NINE runs on seven hits off of Lee and former Blue Jay Shawn Camp.
It was an inning in which Edwin Encarnacion both tripled AND homered. In between those two mammoth hits (the triple was off the wall in front of the 400 ft sign in centre), 3rd-string catcher Erik Kratz torched his former team with a 2-run shot, Juan Francisco clubbed a 2-run shot for his 4th home run in 16 games as a Blue Jay. This guy wants a starting job, and he’s earning it.
Once again, just about everyone contributed. Everyone had a hit except Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera. Reyes drove in the winning run with a sac-fly in the 3rd, though and walked twice to atone for his average dropping to .176.
On a dominant night like this, there’s no need for a Good/Bad/Ugly, so I’m just gonna skip ahead to…
– It’s a running narrative that Steve Tolleson has had a fascinatingly productive career at the plate in a rather small sample size, with a rather impressive number of his limited hits at the major league level being for extra bases.
Tonight Buck Martinez informed us that Tolleson entered the game a career 3-for-5 against Cliff Lee, with all three of those hits being for extra bases. Tonight, he was 2-for-3 off Lee with two more doubles.
– The Blue Jays won their 4th game in a row tonight – their longest winning streak since the infamous 11-game streak last June!
In a battle of talented acronyms, it’ll be R.A. vs A.J. as the B.J.s will try to K.O. the Phillies. It’s been remarkable watching the Phillies almost turn into the Vancouver Canucks of MLB. Sure they actually have a title to their name, but when the Blue Jays dealt Roy Halladay there four years ago, surely nobody expected such a collective rapid decline. On the other hand, what do you expect when your core group of (very) talented players are mostly around the same age, and that same age is 34-35?
But this isn’t a time to feel pity. At this point, there’s no excuse to not pick up another W tomorrow.
For Jays Balk, I’m @TheAsherRoth