Mark Buehrle did it again. Like he has all season, he spotted his stuff and got swings on pitches that caught just enough, but not too much of the plate. Although, to say he was fooling Angels hitters tonight would be a bit of a stretch. Over 6+ innings of work, Buehrle allowed 6 hits, 2 runs, walking 5 and striking out 2, good for a 1.83 WHIP. The 5 walks for Buehrle, who is well known for absolutely despising walks, is slightly alarming. It’s a season high and his first time walking that many since June 28th, 2010. But it was at least partially due to home plate umpire Larry Vanover’s extremely conservative strike zone, which in fairness to him was extremely conservative for both teams.
It’s amazing to think where this team would be without Buehrle’s fantastic start to the season. Last year through 7 starts, his ERA was 7.02 and he had allowed 11 home runs. This year, in his 8th start, his 2 runs over 6 innings will actually RAISE his ERA. And he’s allowed just 1 home run. If Buehrle was pitching anything like he did last year right now, the Jays could easily be 14-25. I think we’d be having conversations about blowing up the team. The question is; do other Blue Jays step up and/or settle in (Jose Reyes, R.A. Dickey, Dustin McGowan) or does Mark Buerhle’s inevitable regression set in first? The answer to that question doesn’t necessarily indicate whether the Jays will be buyers or sellers at this year’s deadline – there are so many other factors – but it could have a major impact on the direction of this team.
Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, because after tonight there may be some issues the team has to deal with in the near future. Colby Rasmus was forced to leave the game in the 7th after grounding out and feeling the ol’ hammy tightening up, which appears the injury-du-jour that’s spreading like the plague around the Jays locker room. But with the plague of Tommy Johns going around the MLB this year we can’t rule that out for Colby either. Unfortunately Colby’s injury also robbed us of the chance to see Rasmus-Rasmus matchup – which Wilner tabbed the Meeting of the Rasmi – as Colby’s brother Cory came in to pitch in the 8th and Colby’s spot in the order came up. Instead Juan Francisco hit for Colby and grounded a 2 run single up the middle to give the Jays the 7-3 lead.
Brett Lawrie made his return and struck out looking in his first two at bats on low fastballs, then hit that exact same pitch for a long bomb in his 3rd at bat. Gregg Zaun said “Gotta jump on the first cheese you see”, which reminded me of my favourite analysis ever from Darrin Fletcher, when commenting on someone I can’t remember hitting a homer off a fastball in a fastball count, who said “When you see the cheese, you gotta turn on the fan.”
Lawrie also looked good defensively after being shifted to 2nd base as part of some defensive rotations when Colby left the game, turning a double play and then almost starting another one in the 9th. Maybe him and 2nd and Francisco at 3rd isn’t so crazy after all? I don’t know.
Casey Janssen also made his first appearance of the season in the 9th. He struggled a bit with his command but in the end a walk, pop out, ground out and Mike Trout lazy fly out is an out of this world performance for a member of the Jays bullpen at this point. Hopefully Janssen bumping everyone down a peg in the ‘pen will stabilize things for the most under performing unit of the Jays team so far this year.
Oh ya, Jose Bautista just went 3 for 4 with a homer and 3 RBI. Not a big deal. Just 2nd in the AL in OPS. Boy oh boy it’s pretty depressing to think the Jays have a legitimate superstar in the middle of their lineup and continue to toil away in mediocrity and refuse to address the glaring pitching needs on the team. Fuck.
Finally, your reward for making it to the end of the post is the tweet of the night:
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