I guess the best thing to say is that it could have been worse for the Blue Jays (34-27). After all, whether you lose in a hard-fought battle or by a nine-run deficit (as the team did in the series’ first two games), it all reads the same in the standings. After two embarrassing performances against the Rays, Toronto was at least able to salvage the series by hanging on to a 3-2 win and escaping Tropicana Field with a win.
Who’s No. 1?
Going into the season, the Rays’ rotation seemed to be comprised of Matt Garza and James Shields at the top, with David Price, Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis rounding out the bottom three. While none of the five can be considered anything less than above average to terrific starters, it appears that Niemann and Price are making their way up the ranks. This isn’t much of a surprise for the phenom Price, who held the Jays at bay on Wednesday with a one-run, four-hit performance over six innings. But Niemann has come out of nowhere to be the team’s best starter this season, earning a two-hit shutout in Tuesday’s opener against the Jays to improve to 6-0 with a 2.48 ERA on the year.
A Pena in the butt
Carlos Pena lit the Jays up for four homers – including a grand slam – in the three-game set, and the team has no one to blame but itself. Against a dangerous hitter such as Pena, you’d think the idea would be to either pitch him inside or away. But apparently none of Brian Tallet, Rommie Lewis, Shawn Camp or Brett Cecil thought so, as each of his long balls came off balls that were high in the strike zone.
For a pair of Blue Jays, it’s been a tough week off the diamond. Alex Gonzalez was away from the team during the first two games of the Tampa series for “personal reasons”, while John McDonald was placed on the bereavement list to be with his ailing father. McDonald’s move to the bereavement list allowed the team to call up recent signee Dewayne Wise, who scored the winning run last night after being brought on as a pinch runner for Adam Lind in the eighth inning. In other roster news, Lewis was sent down to Triple-A Las Vegas in order to create a roster spot for Jesse Litsch, who will start on Sunday against Colorado.
Yep, there were a couple, even in the first two games. David Purcey scattered two hits over three scoreless innings of work, asserting himself as a reliable (for now) bullpen option. Mike McCoy earned one of the team’s two hits on Tuesday and also made a nice over-the-shoulder catch. Lyle Overbay (two hits – Wednesday), Aaron Hill (two hits – Thursday) and John Buck (three hits – Thursday) each had multi-hit games for Toronto. On Thursday, Gonzalez went deep in his return to the team and Cecil earned his seventh win with 6.2 innings of one-run, three-hit ball.
Interleague returns, and the Jays will kick off their visit to Colorado in a game that pits the best power-hitting team in the majors against baseball’s best pitcher. Something’s gotta give, as Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez – he of the 11-1 record and 0.93 ERA – will take to the hill against Ricky Romero and the Blue Birds.
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Written by Ben Fisher