The St. Louis Cardinals came into town and demonstrated their ability to win with the bat (a 9-4 win in Tuesday’s opener) and on the mound (Chris Carpenter’s shutout on Wednesday). For their part, the Blue Jays (39-34) triumphed in the finale and only allowed one run over the last two games of the series, but a 1-2 series loss is all that matters in the standings.
Shake it up
Some critics will suggest that moving Aaron Hill and Adam Lind out of the 2-3 spots in the Jays’ line-up – as Cito Gaston did in time for last night’s 5-0 win – was long overdue. With Hill batting 187 and Lind hitting .207, it isn’t a difficult argument to make, especially after the pair combined for three hits and Lind went deep out of the No. 5 hole last night (Hill hit sixth). But I felt that Gaston had shown good faith in the duo to keep them at the top of the order in hopes that they snap out of the slump, and would have done well to keep the lineup intact. After all, even with light offensive production coming out of the 2-3 spots, Alex Gonzalez and Jose Bautista had found a niche while hitting out of the No. 5 and 6 slots. Only time will tell whether the move pays off or not.
Is Romero the new Morrow?
If anyone could understand the frustration experienced by Ricky Romero on Wednesday, it’s Brandon Morrow. Romero pitched a gem against Carpenter and the Cardinals (8.0 innings, no runs, eight hits) but was backed up by an offence that couldn’t produce a run for their ace. Morrow knows what it’s like to pitch well, but lack in run support. Prior to yesterday’s start, he boasted a 1.89 ERA in three June outings with only a 0-1 record to show for it. Fortunately for Morrow, the Jays put up three first inning runs yesterday and five in the first three frames to give him all the offence he needed. He did the rest, scattering five hits over 8.0 innings to actually earn a win during his red hot month.
Too early to worry about Cecil?
Two poor starts do not a failed starter make. But seeing Brett Cecil get shelled in consecutive outings (0-2, 9.00 ERA) is particularly disconcerting when you consider the poor command he’s displayed and his inability to work his way out of trouble. After getting punished on a fastball high in the strike zone that San Diego’s Aaron Cunningham sent over the wall for a grand slam in his previous start, Cecil struggled to get the ball down while surrendering four home runs against St. Louis. Even more alarmingly, all of the Cardinals’ runs came with two men out.
For all the work that Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has put into restocking the farm system, it will be a pair of players acquired by the old regime that will represent the team at the MLB Futures Game as part of All-Star Weekend at Angel Stadium in Anaheim. Vancouver, BC native Trystan Magnuson, a second round selection by Toronto in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, and Venezuelan hurler Henderson Alvarez, a non-drafted free agent signee in 2006, will represent the “World” team. Magnuson, a 6’7” reliever, has a 1-0 record with a 2.09 ERA in 25 appearances at Double-A New Hampshire and is viewed as a possible closer-of-the-future for the franchise. Alvarez, a prospective starter in the team’s system, owns a 5-3 record with a 3.19 ERA in 12 starts this season at Class-A Dunedin.
See ya, Edwin
So Anthopoulos meets with Edwin Encarnacion to tell him he’s being sent down but it shouldn’t be a long stint; Encarnacion shakes the GM’s hand and appears to take the demotion well; he meets with his agent about the matter and suddenly decides he is unwilling to accept the demotion and is ultimately designated for assignment by the club. And so an agent’s concern over what a demotion will do for his client’s market value in a contract year ends what could have been a mutually beneficial relationship between Encarnacion and the club. Too bad.
Few homestands require a charter flight to Philadelphia, but that is the reality of a G-20’ed Toronto. As such, the Jays will “host” the Phillies at Citizen’s Bank Park, with Roy Halladay facing his old mates in tonight’s opener. Jesse Litsch, one of the young hurlers mentored by Halladay in his Toronto days, gets the ball for the Jays.
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Written by Ben Fisher