Even though strong pitching from Jo-Jo Reyes, Brandon Morrow and Kyle Drabek kept the club in the series and even earned them a win, the Jays (14-17) simply couldn’t generate enough offence against a tough Rays’ pitching staff. With Jose Bautista still out and the Blue Jays boasting precious little in offensive depth, Toronto offered up a hot Adam Lind and not much else against David Price and co. in scoring just six runs along the way to dropping two of three.
A Closer Look
Farrell’s Missing the Point: Amidst all the to-do over Saturday’s chaotic seventh inning which saw, in a pair of separate incidents, John Farrell of the Jays and Joe Maddon and BJ Upton of the Rays ejected. In the case of the Toronto skipper, the toss came while he was discussing balls and strikes with plate umpire Chad Fairchild during a pitching change, a discussion which Farrell maintains was casual and hardly argumentative. He could very well be right, but perhaps his first ejection as a big league manager could be chalked up to what I feel is an air of condescension with which he approaches umpires. I certainly can’t claim any expertise on his ump dynamic, given that my analysis comes from watching either on television or however many rows back when I’m in attendance, but I often get the impression that I am seeing a guy who believes he’s the smartest person in the room.
Arencibia’s Workload Growing?: In a victory for developmental thinking over the ‘win now’ approach I criticized following the Yankees’ series, JP Arencibia caught Drabek’s Thursday start (moved up one day due to Ricky Romero’s oblique strain) and could see increased action at the backstop. The team had previously leaned on the more experienced Jose Molina to catch for Drabek and Morrow, but club brass also realizes that Arencibia and Drabek will have to establish some chemistry eventually if the hurler is to become a front-of-the-rotation staple and Arencibia is to become the Jays’ catcher of the future.
Rauch Blows It: It likely won’t take much for Farrell to hand the full-time closer job off to Frank Francisco, but it’ll take more than a hanging curveball by Jon Rauch. That’s really what it came down to on Tuesday night, as Upton took advantage of Rauch’s mistake and made him pay to the tune of a walk-off, two-run home run in the Rays’ series-opening 3-2 win. It was certainly a disappointing waste of what had been a superb Reyes outing, but it hard erased the prior contributions of Rauch, who has been a steady presence at the back of the relief corps. The team’s two-closer system will hang around at least a little longer.
Price is Wrong for Jays: No, David Price doesn’t just seem to dominate Toronto, he flat out does it. His gem on Thursday (8.2 innings, no earned runs, 10 strikeouts) marked his eighth win in nine career starts against the Blue Jays, with no losses to show for it. Price’s numbers against the blue birds: 48 strikeouts (more than against any other opponent) and an ERA just a shade under 2.00.
The Other Guys: Evan Longoria’s return to the line-up is great news for a Tampa team sorely in need of some power in the heart of the order, but hardly takes the pressure off those who will serve as his protection. Upton isn’t the only hitter who needs to step up his game, as Sam Fuld is slowing down and Johnny Damon and Ben Zobrist aren’t playing up to potential (Zobrist’s power eruption against Minnesota last week notwithstanding).
With 18 of their next 28 games taking place in the friendly confines of the Rogers Centre, Toronto needs to get hot in a hurry. The first opportunity comes this weekend when they host the Detroit Tigers, with Jesse Litsch getting the call on Friday night against Phil Coke prior to Saturday’s battle of the aces between Ricky Romero and Justin Verlander.
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Written by Ben Fisher