Posted by: Asher Roth | April 11, 2010

Eveland Envelopes the Awful Orioles

After two fantastic come back victories, the Blue Jays did not need 9th inning heroics to win their fourth game in a row, a 3-0 victory.

Dana Eveland pitched 7 1/3 shutout innings, a result few would have anticipated prior to the start of the season.

Like the rest of the Jays victories thusfar, it was not pretty. Yes, they earned themselves a shutout, but this was mostly a combination of Jose Molina’s calling a gem of a game behind the plate, and the Orioles being a very bad team.

Not only did the Orioles intentionally walk Travis Snider to load up the bases in the fourth inning – only to then hit Jose Molina in the back, scoring what would be the winning run – but they would go on to intentionally walk him again later on, only to have Molina drive home another with a single to make it 2-0 in the 6th. Then, almost for comedy’s sake, they would intentionally walk Vernon Wells in the 9th inning after an Adam Lind RBI double.

Now, I know Travis Snider is an up and coming slugger, I know his stance brings back memories of Carlos Delgado, and I’m aware he had the game-tying hit on Friday. But to intentionally walk him twice, on a day that he goes 0 for 2 anyway, to me, is just plain gutless, and makes for very boring baseball. Intentionally walking someone, while being a compliment to the abilities of the hitter, is simply a really lame way to take their bat out of the game. And if the move doesn’t work out, as it failed to twice this afternoon, the manager looks like a silly coward.

Congrats, Dave Tremblay. You stuck to your guns. Even after intentionally walking Travis Snider, twice, leading to embarrassing RBIs by the Jays’ backup catcher, you did it yet again in the ninth.

Time for my heroes and bums section. First for the heroes:

– Dana Eveland: 7 1/3 innings pitched, 5 hits, 0 runs, 2 BB, 2 K. He escaped jams early on in the game and settled in to become lights out as the game went on. In the 7th, he only needed to throw 6 pitches. So far, if someone deserves to lose their spot in this rotation, and I’m aware it’s after one game each, but Eveland does not look to be that man.

– Jose Molina: After a terrible game on Thursday, where a blatant passed ball led to the only run Ricky Romero allowed, Jose redeemed himself. 2 for 3 with 2 of the 3 runs driven in for the team on the day. As mentioned before, he also called a fantastic game. On TSN.ca, Eveland said he just stuck to Molina’s game plan, only throwing 5 or 6 breaking balls (when he usually tosses them 40% of the time, he says), and mostly switching between his fastball and change-up. If Jose had not stuck to this plan, who knows what could have gone down.

– Both Adam Lind and Alex Gonzalez are seeing the ball well in the early going. Each had two hits on the day; all of which were doubles, and Lind added a huge insurance RBI in the 9th, while Gonzalez just missed hitting it out of the park. He also was solid on D.

– Edwin Encarnacion: deserves some props today for having two hits, scoring 2 runs, and playing surprisingly steady D, starting with a fine DP he turned in the 1st.

Bums:

– Shocker here, but Lyle Overbay. While he did play solid D, including a couple of nice diving plays, he was 1 for 5 with 4 left on base, including in the 1st when he popped out into foul territory with 2 men on. Season average is now an impressive .105. I guess he doesn’t wanna be traded.

– Jose Bautista: If this guy doesn’t step his game up even a single notch, I am going to be ripping on him all year. Where do we begin? The strike out in the first inning on a pitch that his bat seemed to go right through? The time in the 3rd inning when Adam Lind struck out on a hit and run, and Bautista decided to stop right before he reached second, when the throw was high, then gets caught in the most half-assed rundown ever, thus killing a chance with runners on the corners and one out? His .158 batting average – at the top of the order? How bout the fact that he left 6 – that’s right – SIX men on base this afternoon. The next Marco Scutaro my ass.

– Jason Frasor: First off, I wanna make clear that the heroes and bums section are strictly my opinion, and have not been voted on by experts in the field. Having said that, we are 5 games into the season, and already I’ve had enough of Jason Frasor. Over the years, the closer spot has had its share of roller coaster rides. Long gone are the days of Tom Henke and Duane Ward. Since then, we’ve had to endure the mediocrity of Mike Timlin, the horrible signing of Randy Myers, and the rise and fall of B.J. Ryan. But say what you will about Ryan, in that ’06 season before John Gibbons over-used him, he was lights out. He’d charge in from the bullpen, come out throwing strikes, and be done five minutes later. Jeremy Accardo was also solid in ’07, and I’m not sure why he’s not in the closing discussion. But Jason Frasor…

I attended the game in which he got his first career blown save (after successfully converting his first 10 opportunities, I believe), back in 2004. I remember two things about that game. One was that it was against the Diamondbacks in Interleague play, and the other was that Pat Hentgen got the start for the Jays, and it was one of the only good starts he had in those finals months before he gave up and retired. That day, Frasor blew it.

As I was saying before, the Jays have had their highs and lows with closers. There always seems to be a year that they turn to a guy that is alright, but simply does not have the guts to close. First, there was Kelvim Escobar in 2002, who posted 38 saves, while blowing eight of them. His ERA was 4.27, he allowed 75 hits in 78 innings, and had a K/BB ratio of only 1.93. Those are the numbers for a middle reliever, not a closer. Then there was Miguel Batista in 2005. Same thing: 31 saves, with eight blown, an ERA of 4.10, 80 hits in almost 75 innings, k/BB ratio of 2. This season, Jason Frasor comes out and blows a save on opening day (Jays could realistically be 5-0 right now). In the 3 games he’s actually picked up the save so far, he allowed a lead-off double on Wednesday, and in his last two games he has walked the lead-off man. Today, he allowed a walk and a hit while striking out one and throwing 20 pitches.

I’m not saying that these guys are bad pitchers. As we have seen, while being injury-prone, Escobar has put up great numbers as a starter, while Batista was a mediocre starter with a massive arsenal of pitches. I’m saying they’re not closers. These are guys who will pick up several saves, but will blow their fair share, and make way too many of their actual saves into nail-biters. As a fan, there is nothing that I hate more than a closer like Jason Frasor. But of course, Cito does not hear my pleas.

The Jays have a quality bullpen this year. If Frasor falters, they have plenty of options to replace him, even beyond the obvious choices of Kevin Gregg and Scott Downs. As I mentioned before, I believe Accardo still has the stuff and the guts to close, Cito just needs to give him a chance. Mark my words: he’s the new manager’s closer. If it’s not, it will be Brandon Morrow.

SOME ADDITIONAL NOTES:

RANDY WOULD BE DANDY – I think Randy Ruiz should have pinch hit for Lyle Overbay in the 9th. When you’re up 3-0 with guys in scoring position against a left-handed pitcher, and you have a natural slugger like Ruiz patiently waiting on the bench, why not bring him up? If the move pays off, you have a large amount of insurance. If it doesn’t, you’re still up by three runs with your “closer” out there. And honestly, with the chances of a ball only being hit to the right side being pretty low, I’ll take my chances on Ruiz. If one ball gets past him, oh well, at least you gave him a chance and can learn accordingly. But Cito doesn’t believe in pinch-hitting in practical situations, so I’m left to whine about it once more.

MY DAILY CYNICISM OF THE BROADCASTING – I don’t mean for it to be as such, but with so many inexperienced broadcasters in the mix in the early going, there are so many glaring errors that while it may not be necessary to point out, I simply can’t help but do so.

Tonight, Sam Cosentino filled in for Buck Martinez. Considering the fact that he’s a reporter, not commonly a play-by-play man, I thought he did pretty well. In addition, being a reporter first, while Buck is a colour-guy converted, Cosentino was more technically sound. While he referred to every bat on ball contact, whether it be a line-drive or a grounder, as being “pounded”, he knew such basics as not cutting off Pat Tabler, how many outs there were and who the person was at the plate. I also greatly enjoyed a point that he questioned why pitchers don’t follow through with the fake to third, throw to first move instead of faking it all the time, then mentioned Hentgen’s success in that area. This is something I’ve been wondering for years, and nobody really points it out.

On the other hand, he got on your nerves at times. He seemed to think that the fly ball by Adam Jones in the first innings was going to leave the park, when Travis Snider easily pulled it down in middle-left field. He seemed to get excited very easily, and when he did, he did not appropriately pull away from the mic, and thus was very piercing. This is a common error, though, when you are new to commentating. I know that in my time calling basketball the past couple years, I have been told countless times to not yell into the mic.

Either way, I know the twittersphere was rather critical of Cosentino today, myself included, but all in all, I thought he did a fine job filling in. It also raised a question to mind. When Buck can’t make a game, does Sportsnet ever ask former Jays play-by-play guys Rob Faulds or Jamie Campbell if they want to fill in? Or would that just be cruel?

MY QUESTION TO EVERYONE FOR THE COMMENTS SECTION:

If you are Rob Faulds or Jamie Campbell, and Rogers asks you to fill in for Buck Martinez, do you say yes?

FINAL THOUGHTS

Thanks for still reading up to this point. I’ve realized that finally having the time to watch an entire game has given me a lot to say about the team. How great is it that baseball is back? Keep in mind, I would say that whether the Jays were doing well or not.

Having said that, one can’t help but evaluate their hot start on a realistic basis. Just like last season, looking at the AL East Standings and seeing the Jays with a 4-1 record brings some shivers. Looking at the Jays’ starters and seeing that 4 of the five of them pitched a quality start is a good feeling. Watching Vernon Wells hit more home runs in the first three games than he did in any single month of 2009 is another positive sign.

However, the Jays’ victories have been driven by a smooth combination of great patience at the plate and poor pitching by their opponents. The Jays have walked 25 times in 5 games, including 10 against the Rangers on Wednesday. Having said that, they’ve also struck out 43 times (almost nine per game). These strikeouts have been at the hands of pitchers with nasty stuff, but poor control. Once the Jays face a playoff-contending opponent, they will have to get contribution from everyone in the lineup. That means that Lyle Overbay needs to learn how to hit in the clutch, and Edwin Encarnacion needs to start getting hits when guys are on base, although he’s done a fine job with the bases clear.

Is that going to happen? Is Dana Eveland going to be able to two-pitch the Yankees? Is Brian Tallet going to go six-seven innings a start? Is Morrow going to develop control? He certainly has velocity. Most importantly, when is Cito going to bite the fucking bullet and start Randy Ruiz? Does he expect him to be hot and on his toes when he rides the bench through five games while Lyle hits .105 and Mike McCoy has two games under his belt?

The answer to these questions, as will be the theme all season: you never know.

Tomorrow it’s Shawn Marcum and Kevin Millwood, two guys who pitched well on opening day, but received no-decisions, will square off at 1:35. I will be at work, and thus will need someone to text me updates. Any Volunteers?

@amgr86

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