(Thank you Nathan Denette)
Alright, everybody settle down.
Even if you look past all of the “it’s only one out of 162” cliches, the end result of this game looks far worse than the sum of it’s parts. If you’re like me, and were unable to watch the entire game, there are a number of positives to take out of this.
Yes, the Clevelands scored 15 runs on 22 hits, but most of those runs were scored on well-placed bloopers and grounders, and most of them were scored against Neil Wagner and Marcus Stroman – neither of whom are the best (or most experienced) relievers that they have.
No, Dustin McGowan wasn’t great, nor is this a surprise if you look at his career stats against Cleveland. Entering the game, he’d allowed 18 earned runs on 23 hits in 13.2 innings over three starts (YIKES). Tonight, the 4 earned runs on 9 hits over 4+ innings almost made for his best start against them – almost.
What’s truly interesting about tonight’s game is that it follows a rich tradition of Cleveland klobbering the Blue Jays at the Skydome over the years. What’s even more interesting is that, with exception to tonight, they both were games that I was in attendance for.
April 28, 1996: My dad bought tickets for what would be just the third game that I’d attended, and was excited that a 36-year-old former Cy Young Award winner was making his debut with the Blue Jays.
R.A. Dickey circa 1996 Frank Viola (whose son, Frank Viola III, happens to be a knuckleballer in the Blue Jays system) had a rough debut, to say the least. I remember arriving at the stadium a little late, in the 2nd inning, looking up to see “Cleveland 7, Blue Jays 0” up on the scoreboard. Viola would allow 10 runs (9 earned) on 10 hits over 4 innings and the Jays would stumble to a 17-3 loss.
Carlos Delgado, Ed Sprague and Sandy Martinez would all club solo homers for the Jays, who were facing a lineup that had Manny Ramirez hitting 6th and Jim Thome hitting 8th. Seeing as I didn’t know the game very well at the time, I was too young to appreciate those jerseys (which I wouldn’t see again for 16 years), that Cleveland lineup, and John Olerud, who I’d never see in a Jays uniform again.
On August 4, 2004, it would happen again. I’d acquired tickets from goodness knows where, and invited my Uncle Jay to head to the game with me, who I’d never gone with before. Was it the Cleveland curse, or was it just Josh Towers?
I wonder if that pic was from that game… Thankfully, this game was entertaining for the home crowd for just a bit longer – 5 of the 7 runs he’d allow would come in the 5th inning – but some reliever nobody has ever heard of would allow 5 more in the 9th and the Jays would get blown out by a Cleveland lineup featuring 2-homer Travis Hafner, 5-hit Casey Blake, and “no-name” shortstop John McDonald. 14-5 the final.
What a mish-mash of a team the 2004 Jays were – just look at that lineup in Carlos Delgado’s last season… Chris Gomez leading off at shortstop, Dave Berg starting in left field, Frank Catalanotto DHing, and, worst of all, they’d just switched to those horrible grey and black jerseys…
Anyway, tonight’s game was bad, but it isn’t the end of the world, much less the season. The good news is that the Jays can still win the series! All that they need is for J.A. Happ to out-duel that Salazar kid with the triple-digit heater, and everything will be…
Whatever, it’s baseball. Anything can HAPPen.
For Jays Balk, I’m @TheAsherRoth.