As one streak ends, a new one begins

Saturday, May 30, 2009  |  by 

Who do you think would win in a 50 yard dash - Rod Barajas or Bengie Molina? This is of course assuming that they both don't collapse at the 30 yard line.

Despite his lack of speed, Barajas ran the fastest first to home (270 feet in total) that he ever did in his entire career. There was a scary moment after that, because I was almost convinced that Rod had a stroke at home plate. Barajas himself even admitted he was completely exhausted:
"If I had to run 10 more feet the paramedics would've been out there giving me mouth to mouth." - via Bastian's twitter
It was a great team effort tonight from the Blue Jays and it was very fitting that they snapped the losing streak against the very same team and pitcher which it began against. Obviously the Jays did their homework on Tim Wakefield this time and put their experience to good use for five extra base hits off of the knuckleballer. Clutch hitting returned once again as all six runs were scored with two outs and the hit .363 with runners in scoring position.

Casey Janssen posted a solid effort but had trouble early in the game keeping the ball in play. Although it took 13 innings, Janssen finally got his first swinging strike against the opposition tonight, too. Just to put a punctuation mark on his night, Casey punched out Kevin Youkilis and got Jason Bay looking to end the 7th inning. If that's not a middle finger salute to the Red Sox, I don't know what is.

With that win, the monkey is officially off the back of the Toronto Blue Jays and they can now focus on decimating the Boston Red Sox for the rest of the weekend. While fans aren't busy decimating hot dogs and nachos for the "All You Can Eat Weekend", be sure to look up at the box score every one and a while and check how our boys are doing.

Let's welcome the Red Sox

Friday, May 29, 2009  |  by 

Image courtesy of New York Super Blog

Home sweet home! The Blue Jays are finally back into Toronto after a horrendous road trip, and back to face the team that had a part in the freefall of the Blue Jays; the Boston Red Sox. Thankfully that off day has helped give a lot of perspective on what's happened in the last nine games. It's almost as if it never happened at all!

Thursday's bullpen collapse might have warranted a few trips to Las Vegas for Jesse Carlson and Brian Wolfe, but rest assured that the Jays bald-headed relievers will remain with the club. Jordan Bastian talked to Cito and the manager admitted that he's probably been riding Carlson a little too hard these past few weeks. That's what she said!

Instead of watching from the dugout, Scott Richmond will spend the weekend in the bullpen. The coaches decided to skip Richmond's starts, so he will be available for middle relief in this weekend's series against the Red Sox. Better for Scotty to get some work in the bullpen rather than be idle for 13 days.

Remember that with a series at home against the Red Sox, this weekend will undoubtedly bring some colourful characters out to the Rogers Centre. Attendance at these games will comprise of thousands of Red Sox fans from far and wide. Let's show them a series they'll never forget! I'm liveblogging tonight's game over at The Score, so come on by and let's send some positive reinforcements to the Blue Jays and help them end this losing streak.

Game Homework: The Knuckleball

Thursday, May 28, 2009  |  by 

"There are two theories on hitting a knuckleball. Unfortunately, neither of them works.” - Charlie Lau, legendary hitting coach
There is no question that the knuckleball is one of the most unique pitches in the game of baseball. At an average velocity of around 65 miles per hour, a knuckleball is thrown at the same speed of a batting practice fastball, but once it leaves the pitcher's hand the knuckleball is the furthest thing from hittable. In fact, since some catchers have said that trying to catch a knuckleball is like trying to catch a butterfly. So it seems very appropriate to use the famous Muhammad Ali quote here to describe a knuckleball; it floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee.

As the best knuckleballer in the game today, many people think that it was Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball that was the catalyst for the Blue Jays’ losing streak. After the bluebirds couldn't figure out Wakefield, the offense went seven games without hitting a home run and scoring more than three runs in a single game.

But this time around, we are giving the Blue Jays a little homework to do before they face Old Time Wakefield on Friday. I myself have never tried to hit a knuckleball, but from what I hear it’s one of the most difficult pitches to time as a hitter. Sitting at a computer with next to no baseball experience, I will try to offer some tips to the Blue Jays hitters on hitting a knuckleball. Gene Tenace, start taking notes and pass these tips onto the lineup:
1.) Get as close as you can: Batters should move up in the batters box because the further the ball travels, the more difficult it is to hit. Moving to the top of the batters box can cut down on approximately 60 inches (5 feet) of travel, so scooch in there!

2.) If it’s high, let it fly. If it’s low, let it go: If you remember Kevin Millar’s homerun off Tim Wakefield, it was up in the zone and Millar just let loose and sent it over top of the green monster. Apparently the higher the knuckleball is in the strike zone, the easier it is to hit.

3.) Lean back, lean back: As a batter, the tendency would be to lean forward and swing through the pitch. Most experts say that the key to hitting the floater is to lean back and wait for the ball to reach the batters box instead of trying to swing ahead of the pitch.

4.) Keep your eye on the ball: All the way from little league to the majors, hitting coaches will always preach the same thing - watch the ball.
So now you have a little insight into what the Blue Jays will be up against tomorrow night when the Red Sox arrive in Toronto. I’ll be liveblogging the series opener over at The Score, so join in and let’s hope this this losing streak ends at nine games. Let's cross our fingers for a slump buster!

Resources and other great articles

Disappointment to the 9th power

Wednesday, May 27, 2009  |  by 

Nine games, nine losses. What a road trip! In fact, it was the worst road trip in Blue Jays history. After being swept by the Red Sox, the Braves and now the Orioles, today's late inning collapse was just the cherry on top of the shit sundae.

At least one thing was different about this game; there were actually runs on the board for the Blue Jays, 10 of them to be exact. And yet, that wasn't even enough to end the eight game losing streak. Kudos to the offense though for finally coming through and giving some run support for Roy Halladay.

The bullpen on the other hand, deserves all the blame for this game. The way this game was going, I don't think there was any pitcher in the bullpen that could have stopped the bleeding. If it wasn't Jesse Carlson, it would've been Brandon League. If it wasn't Brian Wolfe, then it would've been Shawn Camp. I don't necessarily agree with the sequence of relievers that was paraded out there, but I'm just disappointed at how it went down.

One interesting school of thought that has been brought up is that the Blue Jays have been playing over their head these first three months of the season, and now they're starting to show their true colours. After being shot into the stratosphere above the American League East, some think that the Jays are finally coming back down to earth. I received an interesting email from a reader named Renaissance Man in which he offers his explanation for the current losing skid:
"Whether we are aware if it or not, every person for the most part, tends to operate within their "Comfort Zone," which could also be more accurately be referred to as their "Familiar Zone," and it's within that zone where an individual will subconsciously strive to stay, because that is where they have spent the majority of their lives, and thus it is comfortable and familiar.

At the start of the 2009 season, the euphoria of the new management's influences, spilled over from the end of the last season, and right out of the gate, the Jays were not only leading the tough AL East, but they were also unexpectedly leading the league in several offensive categories.

This was totally uncharted waters for the collective subconscious minds of the hitters specifically; they were way outside of their Comfort of Familiar Zone, so unwittingly, and unintentionally, they managed to sabotage their efforts to put runs on the board."
You don't necessarily have to agree with every point there, but it's certainly something to think about. There is no doubt that there is a mental element to the game of baseball, but I also think that luck often plays a part in the outcome of a game. We have been very fortunate to see this early the kind of potential that the Toronto Blue Jays have. Their reign atop the American League East was no fluke, but their slide from the top has been tough to watch.

As far as an explanation for today's game? The best answer I can offer is that the bullpen sucked. Just plain sucked. As you can see above, it was a rough day at the office for Jesse Carlson. Lately, he has coughed up a lot of runs and his stock in the bullpen is plummeting very quickly. I know that Cito is depending on Carlson as the lefty specialist, but Jason Frasor actually has better numbers this year against lefties limiting them to a .160 average. So is this a case of Carlson being misused in his role, or has he (just like the Blue Jays) come back down to earth? I think it's a bit of both.

At least we can seek solace in that the worst road trip in club history is finally over. The Blue Jays are 16-6 at the Rogers Centre this season, and will be hungry to end this nine game losing streak. In the meantime, we're all dealing with the streak in our own different ways. Like many, I have turned to the hooch to provide some comfort in these difficult times. Eyebleaf has also fallen off the wagon, LJ is drinking straight vodka, and Tao is enjoying the soothing flavour of nicotine once again.

Shots, anyone? Actually ... just give me the whole bottle.

How to stop an 8 game losing streak

In order to stop the bleeding from an eight game losing streak, please follow these instructions closely. Keep in mind that in no way am I licensed to give medical advice. That would be like Dennis Eckersley trying to teach a television broadcasting class.

How to stop an 8 game losing streak

Step 1: Pack the affected area (in this case, the heart of the lineup) with non-sterile hitters who can drive in runs with RISP.

Step 2: Apply steady pressure to the affected area.

Step 3: Seek the Doctor immediately.

Step 4: Pray for it to end.

Losing eight easy

You know how Slick Rick said pimpin' ain't easy? Well the Blue Jays are making losing eight easy.

See what I just did there kids? That's called a pun; my grade nine English teacher would be proud that I actually used a literary device properly for once!

After losing eight straight, the Blue Jays are starting to make it look easy. Even facing a rookie pitcher in his first career start, the Blue Jays couldn't muster up more than 2 runs. It was the same story as it's been the last 8 games; the Jays can't hit with runners in scoring position. It's as simple as that, yet for some reason it's a mountain of an obstacle to overcome.

It was good to see that Cito finally decided to "shake things up" by rearranging the lineup card. But why the hell would Cito choose to bench Alex Rios? Although part of the problem, Rios isn't even the worst offender when it comes to leaving men on base or grounding into a rally-killing double play. Those honours go to Vernon Wells and Adam Lind.

Ricky Romero (or RR Cool J as he is becoming known as) was a little rusty tonight, but I guess that's what you'd expect from someone who has missed the last 3-4 weeks after going on the disabled list. Yet again, the starting pitching for the Blue Jays wasn't a huge cause for concern because in the end it was the same story as it has been for the past week; hits minus clutch at bats times eight equals no wins for you.

Losing streak hits seven

Monday, May 25, 2009  |  by 

I had a really good feeling about today. It was the beginning of a new week, a holiday for our friends in the United States, and it was even Towel Day! Despite all that it was the same result for the Blue Jays today - another game and another loss which makes that seven in a row.

It got off to a very promising start when Vernon Wells hit an RBI single to score the first run of the game. With that he effectively snapped his 17 game RBI-less streak and helped put the Blue Jays out to an early lead. Unfortunately, that would be the only run the Jays would score in the 4-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.

I'm convinced that Brian Tallet's moustache is the source of his awesomeness as he pitched his second straight game six innings deep and giving up only two earned runs. I can't even really hate on B.J. Ryan for giving up 2 runs in the sixth inning because in the end it didn't matter anyway. The bluebirds couldn't put another run on the board, stranding another 9 men on base.

I understand the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" philosophy, but obviously something is not working. Cito Gaston is adamant on following his Opening Day lineup card and refuses to change it regardless of how well or how poorly the team is playing. Might I offer up this suggestion; just change it for ONE GAME. That's all ... one game, move Rios up and move Wells down. Put Lind in the cleanup spot and put Wells in behind Rolen. I realize Cito doesn't want to bruise the egos of his star players, but something needs to be done before this skid hits 8 games.

Things have been worse

Sunday, May 24, 2009  |  by 

I am completely guilty of being the eternal optimist; always looking on the bright side of things and trying to find the silver lining on what would otherwise be a bad situation. So just because the Toronto Blue Jays are in the midst of a six game losing streak, doesn't mean that it's time to lose all hope. The best suggestion I can offer up for the current situation is that things have actually been worse.

April 21st-26th, 2008: The Jays lose 6 straight games, including a sweep at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays. During this period after being benched for one game, high-priced DH Frank Thomas decided he had enough, as the Jays and the Big Hurt parted ways.

May 9th-12th, 2008: If you thought a six game losing streak was bad, during the Jays road trip to Cleveland, there was a point where they had not scored a run for 31 consecutive innings. The bats finally came alive in the 10th inning on May 12th, but not before almost going three and a half games without having a single Blue Jay even touch home plate.

June 14th-21st, 2008: Interleague play was not kind to the Blue Jays in 2008. After winning the series opener against the Chicago Cubs, the Jays dropped the next 7 straight games. Manager John Gibbons didn't even make it out of the road trip alive, as he was canned shortly after the Blue Jays 1-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

May 1st-10th, 2007: This was a point in time where it seemed like nothing was going right for Toronto. The major casualty during this skid was Roy Halladay, as he was sent to the disabled list with appendicitis. Not only that, but the Jays lost 9 games straight. I remember that time vividly because I went on a week's vacation, only to return and find out that the Jays still had not won a game.

There are many high points and low points throughout the 162 game MLB schedule. This just happens to be a low point for the Blue Jays right now. After standing perched at the top of the American League for so long, it seems like the Jays have been held to such high expectations that fans are willing to jump ship the minute that the waters start getting rough.

Let's just keep in mind that the Blue Jays are NOT a sinking ship and Shea Hillenbrand learned that hard way that wasn't true. So please grab a life jacket and weather the storm with us, won't you?

We're so excited to see Casey back ...

Saturday, May 23, 2009  |  by 

That we're "Janssen on the Ceiling".

Please note that I am not clever enough to come up with this subtle reference to an often forgotten Lionel Richie tune. That credit goes to Blue Jays blogosphere reader Torgen. Good luck today, Casey!

You don't want to see him when he's angry

Although he didn't visibly show it, Roy Halladay had every right to pissed off tonight. Despite his best efforts the Blue Jays couldn't even give him one single run in support after he tossed seven shutout innings against the Atlanta Braves.

With Scott Rolen on base with a leadoff double in the top of the 8th and Halladay in the on-deck circle, Roy was probably full of so much adrenaline and hatred that he could've hit a 2-run jack to win the game. But Cito Gaston opted to pull Halladay from the game, and pinch hit for him and sub in Joe Inglett.

Vernon Wells was literally inches from tying the game in the bottom of the 9th, but Braves third baseman Martin Prado bobbled, caught, and threw the ball to first all in one fluid motion to end the game.

Doc was probably very upset at the result of tonight's game, but thankfully he was not pinned with the loss and instead was dealt a no decision, leaving Halladay's record at 8-1. Halladay will just move on and channel his frustrations into another win.

Years from now, a therapist will uncover the true emotions that Roy Halladay experienced tonight. But in the meantime, you definitely don't want to see him when he's angry.

Kickstart to the starting rotation

Friday, May 22, 2009  |  by 


After one of the most morally deflating series losses in recent memory, the Toronto Blue Jays received the equivalency of a B12 shot to the starting rotation. Some great news today that both Casey Janssen and Ricky Romero will both be rejoining the Jays and will fill the vacant spots in the rotation left by Brett Cecil and Robert Ray.

Janssen will make his long-awaited return to the Blue Jays on Saturday against the Atlanta Braves. It’s certainly been a long road back to the majors for Casey Jannsen since his last big league game on September 4th, 2007. It will also be a completely different set of circumstances this time around; back in 2007, Janssen was the setup man for Jeremy Accardo. I’m usually not a huge fan of relievers moving from the bullpen to the rotation. But with Janssen being away from the majors for so long, he’s had ample time to be groomed and retooled as a starting pitcher.

And just to get you pumped for this weekend’s interleague series against the Braves, here’s a little musical motivation courtesy of The Crue. I realize it’s no Friday Rock Out from the Tao of Stieb, but I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to use one of my favourite hair metal songs of all time.

Don't jump!

Come on now, don't do anything crazy here. Just come back down from that ledge and let's talk this through.

Remember last season when the Red Sox came to the Rogers Centre for the Blue Jays first homestand of the year and the Jays swept the World Champs three straight? I guess this was just a little payback for that.

One aspect of the game that certainly didn't work to Toronto’s benefit was the umpiring at home plate. The Blue Jays had every right to be pissed at some of the called strike threes; check out this great piece at The Mockingbird that shows how the hometown Red Sox had the benefit of "Marvelous Marvin" Hudson working in their favour from behind the plate.

If you think about it, the pitching staff for the most part did what they were expected to do in this series. Brian Tallet had a solid game and the Blue Jays rookie starters were beat up by one of the most traditionally strong offensive teams in the American League. You can’t necessarily depend on your number four and five starting pitchers to pitch shutout baseball all the time.

The offense wasn’t even that bad for the Blue Jays either. Last night they had 11 hits, but unfortunately 10 of them were singles. It was truly a series were the Jays were left hanging, as 29 total men were left on base over the course of three games at Fenway Park.

On the upside, there are still 13 more games to play against the Red Sox this season, three of which will come next weekend at the Rogers Centre. It's definitely not time to panic in Blue Jay land; but to all those fairweather fans who say that the ship is sinking, the exits are located to your left and right at the back of the bandwagon. We need those seats for real fans anyway.

Are you Bobby Ray?

Thursday, May 21, 2009  |  by 

Is he Robert Ray or is he Bobby Ray? Who wants to know?

Whether he goes by Robert or Bobby, either way another young Blue Jays rookie pitcher will attempt to salvage at least some part of this series against the Red Sox. After that wild ride from Brett Cecil, all hopes will be pinned on Bobby (Robert) Ray to avoid the first sweep by another team so far this season. All I can say is that the Blue Jays bullpen better be ready to go tonight, because they might be called upon pretty early.

I’ll be live blogging tonight’s series finale between Robert Ray (1-1) and Jon Lester (2-4) over at The Score, so be sure to check it out starting just before 7pm.

Red Sox feast on Baby Bluebird

Wednesday, May 20, 2009  |  by 

So what was the magical formula that helped David Ortiz bust out of his streak of 149 at bats without a home run? According to Texy at Out in Center Field it was the "taste of baby bluebird", also known as the Blue Jays rookie Brett Cecil.

Things were going alright for the Blue Jays until the 5th inning when it started to look like batting practice for the Red Sox. Varitek, Ortiz, Bay and Lowell all took Brett Cecil yard before Cito Gaston decided it was time to pull the plug on the nightmare that was tonight's start for the young southpaw. I hate that the Blue Jays had to be the team to give David Ortiz his first home run of the season, but at the end of the night he still has a .210 average. Don't start printing the "American League Champions" apparel just yet.

And it's not like the Blue Jays weren't hitting the ball very well. They kept Jacoby Ellsbury employed in center field all night long with a MLB record-tying 12 putouts in tonight's game alone. If a few of those fly outs drop in for hits, the makeup of that game changes drastically. Just look at the box score: 14 hits for the Jays, 15 for the Red Sox, yet there's a five run difference between them.

As tough as it was to watch that 6-run fifth inning, it was almost worse to listen to the constant off-the-cuff commentary from the moustache, Dennis Eckersley. When the Red Sox weren't enjoying "cheese", they were hitting it to "dead central". Someone please hand Eckersley a glossary of MLB terms and tell him it's "dead center".

Correction: With his wealth of baseball knowledge, Bart Given from Inside the Majors pointed out to me that "dead central" is actually a very common baseball term. I just assumed it was something Dennis Eckersley made up on the spot since I had never heard it before. Turns out Eck actually knows what he's talking about ... my apologies.

Death by Knuckleball

Tuesday, May 19, 2009  |  by 

There's nothing better than a good old-fashioned game of catch in the backyard between father and son. Tonight it looked like Tim Wakefield and George Kottaras were doing just that ... playing toss. Except the backyard was Fenway Park, and there were batters standing in between them. The Blue Jays attempted to interrupt that game of catch, but for the most part Wakefield just kept lobbing and the Jays kept popping out.

Thanks in part to 16 fly balls, Tim Wakefield managed to slow down the best offense in the league for 8 innings. Kevin Millar possibly used knowledge of his former teammate to bring in the only Blue Jays run off a solo homerun. Kudos to Cito Gaston for deciding to put Millar in the lineup. But on that note, Adam Lind looked a little rusty in left field, after his throw was way off line on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 2nd. Looks like its time for Lind to practice hitting the cutoff man.

As amazing as Tim Wakefield was, Brian Tallet was there right behind him. 6 innings and 2 earned runs against the Boston Red Sox is something to be proud of. Red Sox fans who were hoping David Ortiz would snap out of his slump were denied redemption once again as Big Papi went o for 3 and slipped down to a .203 average. I know the Red Sox really love this guy, but how much longer can this slump go on before it's declared a writeoff?

Yes, the Blue Jays may have lost the first battle in this series, but they're in it to win the war. Bring on the big guns.

Know Thy Enemy: A Guide to the Boston Red Sox

Your mission: gather intel from behind enemy lines and use the information to ensure victory over the Boston Red Sox.

For the first time in a very long time, the Blue Jays will see themselves at the top of the standings board on the Green Monster when they face off tonight against the Boston Red Sox. As Blue Jays fans, it’s crucial for us to know what we’re getting into at Fenway Park. So to prepare for the series at hand, I present you with a love letter to the Toronto Blue Jays fans courtesy of Texy from the Boston Red Sox blog “Out in Center Field”.

So we meet again!

Fortunately for you, the faceoff is taking place at Fenway Park, so you will not have to endure the Sox fanbase in person (which we all know is made up of nothing but Massholes and pink hats). Unfortunately for you, Doc Halladay is not scheduled to pitch - we will take that gift, and in return, we will give you one Brad Penny start. You're welcome.

Half of the Sox roster (may be a slight exaggeration) is hurt or is Julio Lugo, so please don't be alarmed when you see dudes like "Jeff Bailey" or "Nick Green" or "Gil Velazquez" show up on your TV screen. They are actual baseball players, we promise. They are in no way secret robot clones we built to look like ballplayers to disguise their real mission of stealing back Kevin Millar. Seriously, give back Kevin Millar.

The Sox starting rotation has had what you might call a "rocky start" so far in 2009. For awhile, the Boston starters collectively had the worst ERA in the American League. Tim Wakefield's knuckler has done its usual brillant-or-horrifying flutter, Jon Lester's overuse in 2008 may have affected his control, Josh Beckett has looked mortal, and the freakin' World Baseball Classic ruined Daisuke Matsuzaka before the season even started. Thanks a bunch, Japan.

The other glaring problem is the lack of hits from the DH - which is troublesome, given that the sole job of the DH is to hit. However, the Boston media and fanbase has been very rational and thoughtful about this development, as usual. There has not been any kind of mass freakout at all. Of course not.

But the Sox also have two things on their side: a so-good-it's-scary bullpen (Delcarmen, Okajima, Ramirez and Papelbon) and Jason "O Canada" Bay's bat. OK, three things: we also have Dustin Pedroia's mouth. 2009 has also been kind to Jason Varitek who has managed to stay several notches above the Mendoza Line and hit several taters as well. Also, Jacoby Ellsbury is very pretty - and his 13-game hitting streak makes him even prettier right now. Dreamboat just looks at a pitched ball, and it wants to drop in for a bloop hit. He's that pretty. We may not have a shortstop, but we've got a Tiger Beat cover boy!

The big event of the week will be when Kevin Youkilis returns from the DL to wreak havoc with his bat and sweat a lot. We've missed that warthog.

I would like to make one request from Red Sox Nation: please have the Jays wear those snazzy powder blue unis at least one time. Oh, and give back Kevin Millar.

And just so we make it an even fight, check out my preview of the Toronto Blue Jays over at “Out in Center Field”. Remember that when commenting on Red Sox blogs, you are representing the Blue Jays blogosphere. Unless you do it anonymously, then all bets are off. Good luck, soldiers!

Rios Is Our Saviour

Monday, May 18, 2009  |  by 

Alex Rios is back to being a feared hitter in the #3 spot on the Blue Jays lineup. Just 2 pitches after smacking a ball into the 500 level in left field, he sat on a 3-2 pitch from Octavio Dotel and drove home the game-winning run. With that clutch hit, Rios erased any memories in our mind of his struggles earlier this season.

Scott Richmond deserved the win today by shutting out the White Sox through 7 innings. Along the way he struck out ChiSox batters 7 times, with his breaking ball being the weapon of choice. Richmond was on the bubble after a few bad outings, but after today he made a very strong case to stay in the starting rotation. Scott was in line for the win until Jesse Carlson gave up a 2-run homer to Jim Thome which tied the game. That was very uncharacteristic but Carlson, but that is the second game-tieing homerun in the last week he has given up in late innings.

I feel bad for Casey Janssen and Ricky Romero because they're going to have to depend on one of their teammates to collapse before they can make it back into the starting rotation. After Robert Ray's incredible game on Saturday, even he is no longer a disposable pitcher that can be sent back to Las Vegas unless he falls apart within his next few starts.

With that four game sweep of the Chicago White Sox, the Blue Jays are off to Boston to begin the battle for first place in the American League East with the Red Sox. Coming tomorrow, we will have a special preview of the Red Sox with one of our adversaries in the blogosphere. Stay tuned for more details.

Rios Bobblehead/Photo Day Review

Once again it was another Bobblehead Day that inspired a particular player to step up and deliver. Alex Rios was 2 for 4 with 2 RBI's in the Blue Jays 8-2 romping of the Chicago White Sox. Things got a little rough early; the crowd started to turn on Roy Halladay after giving up 4 straight hits to start the game as the White Sox posted an early 2-0.

After that, Halladay was on cruise control to finish 7 innings along with 8 strikeouts. It didn't take long for the Blue Jays offense to catch up - Rios hit a solo homer in the bottom of the 1st, and Adam Lind blew the game wide open with a 3-run homerun in the bottom of the 4th. After that, it was all Blue Jays. Aaron Hill swatted his 11th homerun of the season, to well-deserved chants of "MVP, MVP, MVP!"

Aside from the 1st inning, the only other scary parts of the game were watching Marco Scutaro writhing in pain after he stole third base, and Brandon League's outing in the top of the 9th. With a 6-run lead, League entered the game only to walk the first two batters. Immediately, I started to think the worst, but he managed to buckle down and secure Roy Halladay's 8th win of the season.

On the Photo Day front, I found it very odd that the Blue Jays decided to coincide Alex Rios Bobblehead day with Fan Photo Day. I remembered hearing something in passing about it during Saturday's game, and if it wasn't for LJ at the Te of Inglett, I would've known nothing about it.

So like the thousands of other fans, I decided to line up outside of Gate 15 yesterday and attempt to get my picture with my favourite Blue Jay players. After standing outside for about 30 minutes, we were ushered inside and marched down the ramps to the outfield. At first it was very surreal being on the field, because this is where many talented players have spent large portions of their careers.

It was kind of a weird setup; they had 3 platforms set up with four players each where you could take pictures of the Blue Jays. How weird it must have been for the players to just sit there on a chair for 30 minutes as people take pictures of them. It seemed like more of a zoo exhibit than anything. Along with the platform, there were 3 tents where you could line up and actually come up and have your picture taken with players. I didn't get there soon enough, but I could vaguely see Robert Ray and Brett Cecil.

Here are a couple of pictures I managed to snap during the 9 minutes I was actually on the field.

This picture above is my favourite; B.J. Ryan and Brian Tallet appear to be looking right at the camera and it just so happens it actually turned out. I was going to scream "Brian, whose moustache is better - yours or Tom Selleck's?" But as usual, I chicken out and freeze up when I get closer than 30 feet to any Toronto Blue Jay.

I'm a sucker for Giveaway Days

Saturday, May 16, 2009  |  by 

For some reason in my own mind, walking away from the ballpark with a free souvenir somehow justifies spending hundreds of dollars at Blue Jays game. Either that is marketing genius, or I am just a gullible fan. I'm willing to admit it's a little bit of both.

I’m not ashamed to admit that part of the reason that I'll be going to this Sunday's game against the White Sox is because it’s Alex Rios bobblehead giveaway day. I already have the Alex Rios figurine that was given out last year, and frankly my desk could use another miniature version of Alex Rios to keep it company.

Giveaway days are designed to make fans feel like they are getting something more for their money. But I'm betting that these promotional giveaways are probably just stock-piled somewhere after manufacturers realized that they made way too many souvenirs. Either way, it's nice to come home with a token of your time at the Blue Jays game.

Feel free to follow along with my in-game thoughts and comments during tomorrow's game on my Twitter page. Also, tune in for the maiden voyage of "The Flock": a brand new Blue Jays podcast. It starts Sunday at 4pm on BlogTalkRadio. Hopefully I'll be able to ramble for a few minutes post game about the Blue Jays. Enjoy the long weekend!

The $10 Million Dollar Man

Friday, May 15, 2009  |  by 

Beneath all the drama that was A.J. Burnett returning to Toronto along with the media circus that accompanies Alex Rodriguez, there was a smaller story at hand for the Blue Jays. Just in time for their extendo 4-game series with the Chicago White Sox, the Blue Jays $10 million dollar man has returned to the bullpen.

Except this time, B.J. Ryan will not be returning to his coveted closer role. For the time being, that place is being occupied by lefty reliever Scott Downs. But you can tell that Downs doesn’t want to ruffle any feathers, as he took time for a rare interview with the media and talked to Blue Jays beat reporter Jordan Bastian:
"In my eyes, he's still our closer," Downs said of Ryan. "I'm just filling in until he's ready to go."
Obviously, Scott Downs has been put in an awkward position. He wants to perform to the best of his ability and close games whenever he’s called upon, but at the same time he doesn’t want to be the guy to usurp B.J. Ryan. It’s like if someone from the office left on a maternity leave and their replacement performed better than the person who went to mat leave. It makes for a bit of an uncomfortable working environment.

So where does the $10 million dollar man fit it on the Blue Jays bullpen? For the time being, I think Cito Gaston will slowly ease him back into high-pressure situations and Ryan will probably slot somewhere in between Shawn Camp and Jesse Carlson. After all, the Blue Jays are paying B.J. Ryan $10 million dollars to be their closer, so I think he should be given a fair shot to regain his job. For the time being, Scott Downs is the man who will be called upon when there is a lead of 3 runs or less in late innings.

Just a bump in the road

Thursday, May 14, 2009  |  by 

Scott Richmond has overcome many obstacles to get to where he is today. So he’s not just going to roll over after a couple of bad outings.

Scott was hit hard and had to be pulled after less than 2 innings of work in last night’s 8-2 loss to the New York Yankees Give Richmond credit, he was throwing strikes; it’s just that the Yankees knew they were coming. It appeared that Scott got behind in the count throwing his slider and off-speed pitches and was then forced to throw his fastball, which the Yankees just kept crushing into the outfield.

Scott Richmond’s pitching style was totally opposite from Andy Pettite’s. While Richmond works quickly and pounds the strike zone, Pettite takes his sweet time and places pitches all over the zone. At one point, I said to myself that the Blue Jays could probably just step into the batter’s box and not swing at anything, because Pettite would eventually walk them if they could lay off every pitch.

No doubt that Scott was disappointed about last night’s loss, but good pitchers always bounce back to redeem themselves. Richmond’s next chance will be on Monday against the Chicago White Sox when he takes a fellow rookie Clayton Richard, who will be making just his second start of the year.

Programming note: This Sunday be sure to listen into the inaugural flight of “The Flock”: a brand new Blue Jays podcast spearheaded by Tyler from Out of Left Field. It will be an “Around the Horn” style roundtable every week featuring guests from around the Blue Jays blogosphere, discussing everything (and sometimes not) Blue Jays. It starts at 4pm, so I’ll attempt to phone in after Sunday’s White Sox/Jays game from Toronto with a couple of interesting stories from the 200’s. Be there or be a four-sided shape with all equal interior angles.

Resolve Well and Persevere: The Scott Richmond Story

Wednesday, May 13, 2009  |  by 

Image courtesy of
The typical path for a young pitcher to the major leagues is a fairly linear process. Play baseball in high school, go to college, get drafted, and play in the show.

But Scott Richmond isn’t your typical pitcher, and his journey to the big leagues isn’t your typical story. As a 29 year old rookie who is finding success as a starting pitcher with the Toronto Blue Jays, Richmond has taken many twists and turns throughout his career, which eventually led him to Toronto.

Along the way, Scott’s father has been there every step of the way. I had a chance to speak with Dr. Bob Richmond, proud father of Blue Jays pitcher Scott Richmond, and talk to him about his son’s path towards the major leagues.

When I asked Dr. Bob about Scott’s childhood and where he developed his love of the game, Scott was a well-rounded athlete who not only enjoyed baseball, but soccer as well.
"Being a Kiwi, my cultural heritage was not molded around the game of hockey, so the thought of early mornings scraping ice off the car and then sitting on cold bleachers, in a large refrigerated room, watching my kids practice hockey, never appealed to me the way it does to most Canadian dads.

Very early in the piece I told my kids, "You can play any sport you like, as long as it's played outside, on grass, in the day time," and that was that. Baseball, soccer and rugby became the sports of choice. Scott was a great soccer player as a kid, and had developed quite a reputation as a goal scorer on Vancouver's North Shore. He often used to score 3-4 goals in a game.

As for baseball, he started out with T-Ball like most kids, progressed from that through the various levels, but from the start he was always a good pitcher for his age group. He was also one of the better batters too."

"He grew up with two younger brothers who were also very good athletes, and as you might imagine they competed over everything. I remember a Little League game where Scott was pitching and his younger brother Stirling was catching.

Scott kept shaking off his catcher's signs, wanting to stay with the 'heat,' but after repeatedly refusing to give in to his catcher's demands, Stirling tore off his mask and charged the mound to give Scott a piece of his mind.

There they were, brothers, team mates, chin to chin yelling at each other, waving their hands around, prompting the umpire to rush over and break it up, before they came to blows. I had to smile at their competitiveness. They didn't care who was watching."
I asked his father if Scott had any baseball idols while he was growing up.
"Most definitely it had to be the Texas fireballer Nolan Ryan. He wore Ryan's #34 whenever he was able to, Missouri Valley, Oklahoma State, and with the Edmonton Cracker Cats in the Northern League and possibly other times too."
Dr. Bob, who is a chiropractor now living in New Brunswick, used his knowledge of body mechanics to help develop his son’s career from a young age.
"When he was a little kid, I bought a milk crate full of baseballs from second hand sports stores all over Vancouver, and I used to string an old bedspread between a couple of trees and have him throw at it left-handed.

If you work the other side of your body to try to balance out all of that torquing in one direction that your body is subjected to from pitching, it’s going to help your longevity and survivability as a pitcher.

That coupled with regular chiropractic adjustments from birth to allow the body to grow and develop in a symmetrical manner and function without any nerve interference from spinal misalignments."
Richmond continued to pitch throughout his teenage years, but it wasn’t until Scott arrived at Oklahoma State University that his father noticed that Scott’s talent stood out.
"It wasn’t until he was in college that I started watching more MLB baseball and comparing the way he looked and the way he threw to guys who were already in the major leagues, and in my opinion his mechanics were better than a lot of them even at that point. This was when I first admitted to myself that I felt that he had the potential to pitch in the major leagues one day."
Scott’s journey to the major leagues has led him to Moosejaw, Oklahoma State, Edmonton, and even as far away as Hawaii. Bob recalls a brief period where his son was a bit of an outcast as a Canadian kid, the only non Hawaiian on his team, playing out in the islands.
"I remember he played in Hawaii for a year and because he was from the mainland, they wouldn’t pitch him. One day the guy who was scheduled to pitch didn’t show up, so they gave him the ball, and he did so well, that after that, he pitched every other game for the rest of the season."
Scott Richmond’s will and determination helped him progress throughout his career, but there was a point in time a couple of years ago where Dr. Bob recalls that Scott was just about ready to call it quits if he wasn't able to break into the affiliated minor leagues after 3 seasons of Indy ball.
"He was 28 years old and time was running out for him, especially in the eyes of MLB scouts etc. and he knew it. We all knew that he had the talent, he'd proved himself at every level, but he still wasn't given that one chance that he had worked so hard for.

I remember when he got the call to try out for the Blue Jays in Florida. He was extremely excited as he knew that this might be his last chance to impress and finally get to play in the affiliated minor leagues. He was confident that he would do well in front of the Blue Jays brass that day, but he still had to put it together on that second chances."

"Several members of the family had made sacrifices for his baseball ambitions over the years, including his mother, step dad, and grand parents. We all sincerely believed that he had the talent to go all the way.

I'd also spent a considerable amount of money just keeping him afloat in his first 3 years of pro ball in Edmonton. $800 per month net pay for a 6 month season in Indy ball doesn't buy any luxuries, that's for sure...or even pay the bills for that matter."

"I'd come to the realization that if he didn't get into affiliated ball by the start of the 2008 season, then we were going to have to sit down and have a serious chat about the hard reality of his baseball dreams.

Unbeknownst to me, at the time, Scott had already come to the same conclusion that he was going to hang up his cleats if his only option was to go back to the Independent Leagues in 2008."

"Fortunately, we never had to have that chat."
In 2008, that persistence paid off as Scott became part of the Toronto Blue Jays minor league system. His dedication towards honing his craft helped him quickly progress through Double A and Triple A. As a 29 year old rookie, Scott Richmond has already had many career highlights ranging from representing Team Canada, to being named American League Rookie of the Month. But Scott’s father said his proudest moment as a dad was when Scott received his call to the show, for his first major league start on July 30th, 2008.
"People say “you must be really proud of him” and I am, but I’m more happy for him having overcome everything to get to the point where he is. Our family motto is “Resolve well and persevere” and his baseball journey is the personification of that that in every way. His whole career, you look back on it and it’s almost like it was meant to be."
Every young man looks up to their father for advice and support, and with Scott Richmond it’s no different. His father Dr Bob, is very supportive, even from all the way out in New Brunswick.
"Firstly I'm not a baseball expert, having never played the game, so I don't have the credentials to coach him in the sport per se. Besides the professional expertise that I am able to contribute as a chiropractor and an expert in body mechanics, we have a special connection on an emotional level, because he's very like me in many ways, so I understand what makes him tick him better than most.

In boxing terms, I like to think of myself more as his corner man. I’m the guy who puts the vaseline on his eyebrows, fixes his cuts and puts his mouthguard in so to speak.

I sent him inspirational things to read before each start that he has; to remind him that he’s a bonafide major leaguer, to show his confidence, to trust his stuff, to never doubt his ability, and to visualize the outcome that he wants to achieve every game."
Everyone is very impressed with Scott Richmond’s progression so far in 2009. With the rookies currently outnumbering the veterans on the Blue Jays starting rotation, Dr. Bob hopes that his son can remain as a starting pitcher for the remainder of the season.
"There are no guarantees for anything, definitely his goal is to stay there in the starting rotation all year and that’s where I picture him."
I joked with Dr. Bob that his son’s long and winding road to the majors has so many twists and turns that it could almost be made into a Sunday night TV movie.

I think a great title for it would be based the Richmond family motto that Scott embodies perfectly - “Resolve Well and Persevere: the Scott Richmond Story”.

Fallout from Halladay vs. Burnett

The smile on Roy Halladay's face says it all. Doc had his game face on the entire way through 9 innings, picking up his first complete game victory of the season. A.J. Burnett on the other hand ... didn't quite make it that far.

An incredible 43,737 fans were in attendance for the Halladay/Burnett showdown, as thousands flocked to the ticket windows yesterday, with over 12,000 walk-up tickets sold yesterday alone. It was a perfect storm of sorts, as everything seemed to line up perfectly. The off day on Monday fueled the media circus just in time for the New York Yankees to arrive in Toronto.

Burnett actually didn't pitch too badly, but when the opposing pitcher is Roy Halladay, it's easy to look over matched. Aaron Hill's solo shot in the bottom of the 8th was the beginning of the end for A.J. Burnett, when he was pulled by manager Joe Girardi to a chorus of boos.

In fact, for at least the first few innings, the fans at the Rogers Centre would boo Burnett every time he worked from the stretch. Luckily, the fans realized that they needed to pace themselves if they wanted to boo Burnett and A-Rod all throughout the game. Speaking of which, for once the focus was not on Alex Rodriguez and he managed to stay very low-key. That's probably best for him, since A-Rod doesn't seem to have the best luck with the media in Toronto.

All in all, it was a great game to watch and it was fantastic to see the city of Toronto and Blue Jays fans everywhere get so involved and so excited about a baseball game. Let's keep the momentum going for tonight!

Mound Wars: Halladay vs. Burnett

Tuesday, May 12, 2009  |  by 

A not-so-long time ago, in a division not so far away ... two pitchers were once friends on the same team. But an evil force known as the New York Yankees came between them, turning them into bitter rivals. Until one day, they were forced to face each other in a battle of the century. That day has finally come. It will be master versus student, mentor versus protégé, Roy Halladay versus A.J. Burnett.

Although it’s just another start in the mind of Roy Halladay, Blue Jays fans will be out for the blood of A.J. Burnett. The boo birds will be out in full force at the Rogers Centre when the New York Yankees arrive Tuesday for the most anticipated matchup of the season.

Most of the focus of the Halladay/Burnett game will be on the fact that it's former #1 and #2 squaring off against each other. It won't be a pitcher's duel by any means, but there will be a media circus surrounding the return of A.J. Burnett to Toronto. Statistically, Burnett has been the Yankees best starting pitcher thus far (2 wins, 5.26 ERA, 33 K’s), but that’s not exactly something to brag about since the Yankees have the second worst team ERA in the majors.

I myself really have no ill will towards A.J. Burnett for opting out of his contract. His departure from the Blue Jays has actually worked out well for both parties; Burnett got the money he wanted, and the Blue Jays weren't the ones to pay it to him. I wish Burnett the best of luck, just not against Toronto.

May the force be with Halladay and the Blue Jays.

UPDATE: I'll also be liveblogging tonight's Halladay/Burnett showdown over at The Score, so be sure to stop by and watch this whole battle unfold on the interwebs.

The evolution of Adam Lind into a DH

Monday, May 11, 2009  |  by 

The Designated Hitter position is perhaps the most scrutinized position in baseball. Some baseball purists insist that since the DH rule was instituted back in 1973, that Designated Hitters have it easy since they really only play 50 % of the game. After all, they're only paid to do one thing - hit. But that extra hitter in the lineup changes the entire mechanics of the game and makes the American League game in my opinion, more exciting to watch.

When the Blue Jays announced prior to the beginning of the 2009 season that Adam Lind would be the team's designated hitter, there was a collective eyeroll. Lind doesn't exactly fit the bill of the prototypical "feared bat" when it comes to Designated Hitters. He isn't a tower of intimidation when he steps into the batter's box like David Ortiz or Jim Thome, but Lind is getting it done this year. And he's doing it better than any one else in the American League at the same position.

His incredible hitting so far has erased the need to sign someone like Jason Giambi, Milton Bradley or Pat Burrell. I caught Jerry Howarth mentioning this on the game broadcast today, but Adam Lind leads all Designated Hitters in virtually all categories. The numbers below speak for themselves:

Designated HitterAVGSlugging %RBIHR
Adam Lind.333.561316
Hank Blalock.257.569219
Mike Jacobs.257.475195
Jason Kubel.308.529174
Pat Burrell.250.317161

What the Blue Jays were paying Frank Thomas to do for $10 million a season, they're now paying Adam Lind to do for $411,800 dollars. Lind really bucks the trend "you get what you pay for". Although the DH role is new to Lind, he has settled in quite well batting 5th in the lineup. Although the Blue Jays would probably like to see him as an eventual outfielder, for the time being Adam Lind is becoming one of the most feared bats in the American League.

This one's for Momma

Sunday, May 10, 2009  |  by 

Brett Cecil didn't need to buy a present for Mother's Day because 8 innings of shutout baseball was gift enough for his mother and the Toronto Blue Jays.

For all his great work, Cecil picked up his first big league win by shutting out the Oakland A's and limiting them to a mere 5 hits. I was glad to see that Cito Gaston decided to let Jason Frasor and Jesse Carlson finish off the game. Cecil's pitch count was only at 104 and he probably could have come back to finish the 9th, but after Scott Downs almost let a late-inning lead slip away yesterday, Cito chose to play it safe.

Congratulations Brett, your mother would be proud.

TGIF Tidbits

Friday, May 8, 2009  |  by 

CBS Sports Writer Scott Miller put together a really great article about Scott Richmond that chronicles his journey from working on the shipyard docks in Vancouver to his current spot on the starting rotation with the Blue Jays. Also, next week there will be a special interview on The Blue Jay Hunter with someone who happens to be a Scott Richmond expert analyst. Stay posted to find out who it is!

Casey Janssen had a great outing in Dunedin yesterday going 5 strong innings and only giving up 1 run on 4 hits. It looks like Janssen will make one more rehab start before joining the Blue Jays for the first time since September of 2007. I think the Blue Jays are still eyeing a May 17th return for Janssen, and I imagine that he will likely take Robert Ray’s spot in the rotation. I’ve always though Casey Janssen was best as a bullpen specialist, but I can’t wait for him to bring some much-needed experience to the starting rotation.

I know that the Oakland A’s are the opponent at hand this weekend, but we’re counting down the days to when the New York Yankees come to Toronto on Tuesday. It will be the epic match up of mentor versus protégé when Roy Halladay faces off against A.J. Burnett. As if that wasn’t enough fuel for the fire, Alex Rodriguez will also be in the lineup for the Yankees. Let the media circus begin.

Slowly but surely, our friends south of the border are starting to take notice of the Blue Jays. Yesterday on “Around the Horn”, the panel discussed whether or not the Jays are for real, with most of them saying that they do have what it takes to compete in the AL East. Check out the podcast and fast forward to the 13:40 mark to pick up on the Jays chat.

Just in case you were wondering, 19 percent of the 2009 season is complete and the Toronto Blue Jays have been in first place for a total of 27 days. Believe it!

Dream Weaver

It was like a dream for the Los Angeles Angels, yet a nightmare for the Toronto Blue Jays. Jered Weaver went the distance in securing the complete game 6-1 win over the Jays. He fed the bluebirds a steady diet of breaking balls, and aside from giving up a homerun to Aaron Hill, Weaver was flawless.
No matter how hard they tried, the Jays could not get a rally going at any point during the game. Jered Weaver may as well have thrown breaking balls all night, because nobody could hit that pitch.

Maybe the Blue Jays will find a little more California Love down in Oakland.

Mannywood shut down

Thursday, May 7, 2009  |  by 

Manny Ramirez has collectively screwed the Los Angeles Dodgers and fantasy baseball owners everywhere. But I have a feeling that fantasy owners are taking the news of his suspension the hardest.

As you’ve heard by now, Manny has been suspended 50 games for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. The jury is still out on what exactly he was using. I’ve heard reports today that it was medication for a “personal medical issue”, even a women’s fertility drug called HCG, which would explain the mood swings. Hell, maybe Manny is just using really strong afro cream.

At least use some cop-out excuse like it was something that he picked up from GNC. But by automatically refusing to appeal the case, doesn’t that basically point to Manny being guilty of using performance-enhancing drugs anyway?

To all of those that were begging J.P. Ricciardi to sign Manny Ramirez, we are now breathing a sigh of relief that the Blue Jays weren’t on the Manny Ramirez sweepstakes. It was not necessarily a great business move at the time, but the lack of payroll prevented the Jays from tabling an offer to Manny anyway. Things seem to have panned out without him, though.

That escalated quickly

It’s all fun and games until somebody pulls out a trident and stabs somebody in the chest. Although Brick Tamland didn’t make an appearance, things got pretty heated in last night’s 13-1 blowout by the Blue Jays.

As it seems when any hockey game is going down the shitter, the losing team starts to lose their minds in hopes of gaining some sort of control over the game. Justin Speier lost his cool after home plate umpire Bill Hohn didn’t accommodate the strike zone Speier was looking for. Howie Kendrick also had a few douche moments, chirping something to Halladay after scoring the Angels lone run in the game and also standing ground as Aaron Hill tried to slide into second base.

Through it all, Halladay remained cool and let his pitches do the talking rather than resort to any bush-league tactics to “send a message”. There was a brief moment of complete fear after Halladay was nailed with a line drive to the shin, but Doc was okay and Rolen made the play at first anyway.

And to add to the drama, “Melongate” (as Drew from Ghostrunner called it) was taking place in the stands at Angel Stadium. Four Blue Jays fans donning watermelons as helmets were escorted out of their seats numerous times during the ballgame by ushers in straw hats that also moonlighted as sasparilla salesman.

Long Flights and Late Nights

Wednesday, May 6, 2009  |  by 

I wonder what cinematic treat the Blue Jays were subjected to on the flight from Toronto to Los Angeles yesterday? It seems like in-flight movies are never the type of film that you’d actively go out and see, but the kind that is mildly entertaining if you’re forced to sit through it. Which means it was probably something along the lines of “Marley and Me” or “Yes Man”. Just a little food for thought as the Blue Jays head into their 5-game west coast swing.

Surprisingly the Jays actually have a decent track record playing on the west coast against AL West opponents. Over the past five seasons, the Blue Jays are 20-21 in games versus Oakland and Los Angeles on the road. Both the A's and Angels have struggled the first part of this season, but like any team that has a record close to .500 this early in the year, never count them completely out of the running to win their division.

Be sure to throw back a couple of Red Bulls and join Drew from Ghostrunner on First as he’ll be liveblogging tonight’s late-night affair over at The Score. Tonight’s 10:05pm start time means you can get the kiddies off to bed early, then sneak downstairs and enjoy the entire game in peace and quiet.

Serenity now!

Scott Richmond: Employee Rookie of the Month

Tuesday, May 5, 2009  |  by 

It's official - the baseball world has finally taken notice of Scott Richmond.

For all his hard work in the month of April, Richmond was rewarded by being named American League Rookie of the Month. Richmond posted a 3-0 record in 4 starts in the month of April, with an ERA of 2.70.

If it wasn't for the oblique injury to Ricky Romero, we could be having the argument about whether Richmond or Romero had the better start to the season. But despite all that, Scott Richmond continues to exceed expectations, brought in as the fifth starter and has quickly soared up the Blue Jays starting rotation depth chart.

Congratulations on your Rookie of the Month award Scott, we believed in you all along! As a reward, we'll be sending you a $25 gift card for the LCBO. Feel free to use it on any alcohol to spike the Kool-Aid, if you so choose.

Another emotional roller coaster

I hope you guys took your heart medication, because our tickers certainly got another workout today. Although it wasn't as crazy as yesterday's 9-7 loss, the Blue Jays provided enough heroics to secure the victory for their 19th win of the season. Once again, I decided to plot the highs and lows from the game on another "Emotional Line Graph".

What must have been an amazing game for the 22,000 in attendance for today's matinee at the Rogers Centre, was absolutely frustrating for the rest of us trying to find some semblance of a televised broadcast for the game. To make matters worse, I couldn't even pick up the Fan's broadcast of the game, so I relied solely on's Gameday feature - which is actually fairly decent when TV or Radio or no longer options.

Brett Cecil was impressive in his big league debut and was in line for the win until the usually dependable bullpen coughed up 3 runs, courtesy of Jesse Carlson and Brian Wolfe. Then just as the Jays staged a comeback last night, they tied the game once again and narrowed the gap to tie the game.

When Adam Lind blew the game wide pen with his 3-run home run, it was all but over. I've noticed this weird thing about Lind's batting stance, too. Is it just me, or does it look like he's standing really really far back in the batter's box? Every time he steps up to the plate, it seems like the bat won't even make it across the plate. But it seems to be working fairly well for him, since he added 5 more RBI's to make it 29 on the year.

I'm glad the Blue Jays won today, but I don't know how much more of these roller coaster games I can take in a week. One more like this, and I might have to get stronger blood pressure medication!

Ups and downs

Monday, May 4, 2009  |  by 

I think I experienced as many emotions during tonight's game as a ninth grader does at semi-formal. So I thought it would be best to demonstrate the highs and lows from this roller coaster experience through the "Emotional Line Graph" below.

Or for real information that is actually useful, check out tonight's game summary on Fan Graphs.

Blue Jays T-Shirts

We've all seen those douchebags at the bar who think that wearing "clever" t-shirts replaces any need to use brain cells to interact with other human beings. Well, now you can support your favourite baseball team and have a clever conversation-starter with the Toronto Blue Jays version of Busted Tees!

Thanks to eyebleaf at Sports in the City for a few of the key phrases that inspired some of these shirts. Maybe if we get enough of a demand, I'll actually look into printing some of these. Feel free to vote on your favourite T-Shirts in the sidebar.

Which is your favourite T-Shirt?

Rios and Wells deliver

Sunday, May 3, 2009  |  by 

The way that the Blue Jays are playing right now, it's kind of surprising that it took them this long to complete their first series sweep of the season. I will attempt to paraphrase what Mike Wilner said at the top of Jays Talk, but he said something to the effect of "Who's going to call in, since the number 3 and 4 hitters played well today?" The often-criticized Wells and Rios were responsible for putting up 3 of Toronto's 4 runs, and effectively silenced critics ... for a few days at least.

In the pitching department, Scott Richmond is pitching like a solid #2 starter in the rotation and picked up his fourth win of the season. Richmond matched his career high from his previous game, and went 7 strong innings extending his 3-run or less streak to 9 games. I still can't believe that this was a guy who was fighting for his life just to make it as a back of the end rotation pitcher. Now, Scott Richmond has the 7th best ERA in the American League at 2.67. It went from a glass of Kool-Aid, to a pitcher of Kool-Aid, to a friggin' factory of Scott Richmond Kool-Aid.

During the radio broadcast, Blue Jays Assistant General Manager Alex Anthopoulos joined Jerry Howarth in the broadcast booth for some injury updates. Alex said that they expect both Casey Janssen and Ricky Romero to return around May 17th. Jesse Litsch will take a little longer to return to Toronto, with a target date of around June 1st to be back into the starting rotation. Although it's still further down the road, Anthopoulos mentioned that he wouldn't be surprised to see both Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowan pitching before the end of the season.

Oh, and apparently B.J. Ryan will be back in Toronto by the end of the month, but I don't think too many people are concerned with the timetable on his return.

Once a victim, twice a saviour

I don't even think Disney could've written a better ending to yesterday's walk off win in extras over the Baltimore Orioles.

After Aaron Hill is responsible for an error the 10th inning which lead to the Orioles going ahead 4-3. That is the point in the movie where the main character seems to lose all hope and is at rock bottom. Then a wise old friend (Cito Gaston) speaks to Aaron, and he is suddenly inspired to redeem himself.

In the bottom of the 10th, Aaron swings for the fences at the second pitch and ties the game with a solo home run. At that point, Hill begins to swing momentum in favour of the Blue Jays. His journey to redemption is almost complete.

In the following inning, Hill is once again in the spotlight close to the end of the movie. Time stands still as he cracks a single through the outfield, and Rod Barajas stomps on home plate and the Blue Jays win the game. The Blue Jays win the game! Everyone's happy, especially Aaron Hill.

The story of the Blue Jays 4-3 win over the Orioles in 11 innings will soon be made into a full-length feature Disney film starring Zack Efron as Aaron Hill.

Back on top

Saturday, May 2, 2009  |  by 

Image courtesy of Daylife

Tonight's 8-4 over the Baltimore Orioles combined with the Red Sox 6-2 to the Rays means the Blue Jays are back in sole possession of first place in the American League East. Drink it in, folks.

Kevin Millar was the hero against his former squad, driving in 3 runs on 2 hits. Millar's double in the 4th inning helped rally the Jays for 4 runs, after Mark Hendrickson held the Jays to only 2 hits through the first 3 innings. Halladay settled down after an usually rocky 1st inning, where he gave up a 2-run homer to Nick Markakis. I hate Markakis' last name, because every time I type it, it looks like it's spelt wrong even when I know for sure it's right.

After the 1st, Halladay put it on cruise control until the 8th inning. The Orioles just kept rallying hit after hit and at one point Cito Gaston even came out to the mound for what I was certain to be a pitching change. Out of respect for Halladay, Cito left him in to clean up his own mess. You could tell that Doc was bloodthirsty to get Luke Scott, but he managed to hit safely as well.

Eventually in the 9th, Scott Downs came in and shut the door and here we are once again in first place. I don't want to say it in case I jinx it, but all I will say is that it's a one word phrase that rhymes with layoffs.

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