Oh, what could have been. The Jays (54-51) came into Saturday’s action having won all four previous games of the homestand and facing an Indians squad left short-handed by the trades of Jhonny Peralta, Jake Westbrook and Kerry Wood. However, a pair of one-run losses transformed a potentially perfect home stretch into one of ‘what if?’
Trouble brewing with Jesse?
Frustration and concern are beginning to boil over as Jesse Litsch continues to struggle in returning his velocity and control to pre-Tommy John levels. In each of his past three outings, Cito Gaston has pulled the right-hander before the sixth inning, even as Litsch has largely held the opposition in check. His four earned runs over four innings on Sunday were hardly impressive, but the 25-year old was visibly unhappy at being denied the chance to work through the fifth and try to get his team out of trouble. Gaston has clearly not been enamoured with Litsch’s recent performances, and the team has sufficient major league-ready pitching depth (Marc Rcepczynski, Brad Mills) that you have to figure Litsch’s grip on a rotation spot is tenuous at best.
While Alex Anthopoulos can hardly be considered an inactive non-waiver trade deadline participant (he did, after all, make the Yunel Escobar and Anthony Gose deals while also working the phones in pursuit of other deals), you get the feeling that he would have liked another trade or two to come to fruition. The lack of deadline day activity suggests that Anthopoulos was unwilling to back down much from his reportedly wild trade demands (asking for New York’s Joba Chamberlain or Boston’s Casey Kelly in exchange for Scott Downs?), knowing that he will get two more months and draft pick compensation out of his pending free agents. All will likely be fairly quiet on the Jays’ trade front moving forwards, as Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay are the only trade candidates who would stand a chance at clearing waivers.
Tallet, the company man
Perhaps no Blue Jay will miss Gaston more than Brian Tallet once the manager leaves his post after the season. After all, how many skippers would hold their support for a pitcher boasting a 6.18 ERA who has allowed earned runs in each of his past three and six of his last eight relief appearances? Tallet took the loss in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat, allowing the winning run while pitching two-thirds of the seventh inning to undo Brett Cecil’s solid starting effort. Sure enough, one day later, the tall lefty got the call again and scattered one run over three innings of work. Tallet is being rewarded for a season in which his role has switched from starter to short relief to long relief option, while he has quietly accepted the changes and been a positive clubhouse presence. Nice guys don’t always finish last, unless you’re talking about the team ERA race.
Time for Travis
As Travis Snider worked his way back towards the big leagues with strong hitting in the minors, he didn`t do so in order to sit on the bench. Sure enough, he got his first start on Sunday since rejoining the Jays, the first of what should be many to come as the team`s 2011 roster continues to take shape over this season`s final months. Snider can hit, but that doesn`t mean it`ll happen right away (as evidenced by his one hit over five at-bats). It is critical for him to get some consistent at-bats and opportunities to grow comfortable as a Blue Jay.
It`s safe to say the soft portion of their schedule is now over, considering they now embark on a 12-game slate that will see them visit the Yankees, host the Rays and Red Sox, and head to L.A. to meet the Angels. Brandon Morrow gets the call for the Jays tonight against A.J. Burnett.
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Written by Ben Fisher