With the exception of a five-run sixth inning in yesterday’s game, the Blue Jays (38-32) turned in a solid three-game series against the Giants over the weekend. The team benefited from some excellent starting pitching and timely hitting to take the first two games before a Brian Tallet-led implosion late in the finale.
A positive sign
There’s still work to be done for Jesse Litsch as he continues the climb back from Tommy John surgery, but Saturday’s effort was a major positive. In just his second start since being recalled, Litsch kept his velocity consistently in the low-to-mid-‘90’s while tossing seven innings of three-hit ball. While it may be premature to call the outing a pronouncement of the right-hander’s full recovery, it represents an encouraging sign for Jays brass who suddenly find themselves short on rotation options. Tallet isn’t exactly forcing his way back into the rotation and Dustin McGowan could be facing retirement after his latest setback, so Litsch can find comfort in knowing that the No. 5 job is his to lose.
Sometimes the score isn’t everything
A quick glimpse at Sunday’s box score points to a poor outing by Tallet and, ultimately, a loss. But sometimes meaning can be found beyond the stats, and for the Jays, there was plenty to be found in a home run late in a game that was all but decided. In the bottom of the ninth, John McDonald got the call to pinch hit for Aaron Hill, his first at-bat since coming off the bereavement list and just two days after attending the funeral for his father. Johnny Mac’s home run – his first of the season – was all the more emotional in that it happened to take place on Father’s Day.
The new-look infield
The minor leagues can be an awfully unfriendly place for players on the north side of 25, but a hot hitter is a hot hitter regardless of age and Jarrett Hoffpauir is nothing if not a hot hitter. Hoffpauir (pronounced hoff-power) got the surprising call up to the big club after Sunday’s game and looks like he’ll immediately take over the third base job from Edwin Encarnacion, who got sent down to Triple A Las Vegas. Hoffpauir, who was hitting .332 with nine home runs and 43 RBI with a pair of cycles on the season for the 51’s, should make his Jays debut against his only other big league club, the St. Louis Cardinals. In other infield news, McDonald is once again active after a stint on the bereavement list and Nick Green has been signed as a defensive-minded utility infielder in place of Mike McCoy, who was sent down to the minors.
The silent starter
Brandon Morrow continues to quietly go about his business as the team’s No. 3 starter since a tumultuous start to the 2010 season. Morrow allowed two runs over six innings of work in the series opener on Friday for his fifth consecutive quality start. For his efforts, he has only managed one win over those five outings and boasts a rather pedestrian 3-3 record with a 4.50 ERA. However, those numbers belie his improvement since simplifying his approach following an ugly debut with the team in which he allowed 12 earned runs over his first two starts (lasting just nine innings in total). Without much fanfare, he’s turned himself into guy who can be trusted to keep the team in it every five days.
Albert Pujols and the NL Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals come to town for a three-game set, with Brett Cecil getting the call against Jaime Garcia tonight. Chris Carpenter will face his old mates on Wednesday night.
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Written by Ben Fisher