It was a milestone-making three-game series at Rogers Centre this week. Jose Bautista hit home run No. 50 for the Blue Jays (77-75), while Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners served up a seven-hit series to reach 200 for the 10th consecutive season. Oh, and there were a couple games played, too, which saw the Jays win two of three to surpass their 75-win effort last season.
Given Bautista’s low-key home run march as a low-profile player on a low-profile team, his timing on No. 50 was strangely appropriate: during a week-day afternoon game seen in person by only 12,590 and not watched on television by many more (Sportsnet One still doesn’t serve all cable subscribers). But he did it, making him the 27th player to reach the milestone and the first since Alex Rodriguez and Prince Fielder did so in 2007. Other players in the 50-home run club: Babe Ruth (four time), Hack Wilson, Jimmie Foxx (twice), Hank Greenberg, Johnny Mize, Ralph Kiner (twice), Willie Mays (twice), Mickey Mantle (twice), Roger Maris, George Foster, Cecil Fielder, Albert Belle, Brady Anderson, Mark McGwire (four times), Ken Griffey Jr. (twice), Greg Vaughn, Sammy Sosa (four times), Luis Gonzalez, Barry Bonds, Jim Thome, Andruw Jones, Ryan Howard and David Ortiz.
What about Gregg?
Thursday’s eventful day game (a 1-0 Jays win) not only saw Bautista’s 50th, Ichiro’s 200th and Shawn Hill’s 1st (as in, win since April 10, 2009 in a scoreless five-inning effort that included seven strikeouts), but also featured Kevin Gregg’s 35th save of the season. For all of his shaky, stomach-turning outings this season, the much-maligned Gregg now finds himself in sole possession of fifth place among the Jays’ single season saves leaders (even ahead of Tom Henke). It remains to be seen whether the team makes a bid to re-sign the pending free agent, but given a dearth of alternate options (Scott Downs and Jason Frasor are also free agents, while none of Shawn Camp, David Purcey or Trystan Magnusson appear ready to inherit the closer role), it could be the safest option.
Welcome to the bigs, kid
It isn’t that Kyle Drabek has been shelled in his two outings thus far this season. Heck, scattering three runs and four hits over 5.0 innings, as the 23-year old did on Wednesday, will get you some wins in the majors. But these first two outings have shown the golden boy that he still has a ways to go, especially when it comes to control (Drabek has now walked four over 11.0 innings). However, there’s some question as to whether he’s getting the opportunity to establish any rhythm when it comes to facing big league hitting, as he went a week between his first and second starts and won’t pitch again until facing the Yankees on Tuesday.
Another trade review
With the Seattle Mariners in town, it offered a chance to see former Jay Brandon League, who headed west in the Brandon Morrow off-season deal. Before being shut down for the year, Morrow had offered plenty reason for optimism in his first full season as a major league starter, most notably a remarkable one-hitter in August in which he struck out 17 Tampa Bay Rays. However, unlike my review of the Yunel Escobar-Alex Gonzalez trade last week, I’m not prepared to make any final statement as to the winner and loser of the deal. While League (9-7, 3.60 ERA this season) will only offer the Mariners so much, it was prospect Johermyn Chavez who will be the key to this deal. Chavez is still only playing Advanced A ball in the Mariners’ system, but will move up quickly if he continues to post numbers like the .315 average, .387 OBP and 32 home runs he delivered this season as a 21-year old. It will be interesting to see how Morrow and Chavez develop moving forward.
The Jays will aim for a little payback against the Orioles, who swept them at Camden Yards last week, at Rogers Centre this weekend. Brett Cecil looks for his team-leading 14th win against the O’s Chris Tillman on Friday night.
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Written by Ben Fisher