Sunday, June 6, 2010

Walk It Off

By
I couldn't think of a more perfect way for the Toronto Blue Jays to score their first walk-off victory of the year - against the defending champion New York Yankees.

Like most fans, I was thrilled to see the Blue Jays finally put the Yankees away in the bottom of the 14th inning, but was afraid things might actually go on forever.

After about four hours sitting in sun at the Rogers Centre and my skin turning a nice hue of red, I had to retreat to the concourse to get some cover in fear that I might turn into a walking talking lobster.

Aside from the ending, it wasn't exactly the most thrilling baseball game to watch. There were three home runs hit in total, but there were about maybe seven or eight balls hit to the warning track that seemed like they were going out of the ballpark.

Ricky Romero took care of the Yankees best hitters: Mark Teixeira struck out five times, Alex Rodriguez ground into two double plays, and after compiling a 17-game hit streak, Robinson Cano was held hitless for the second straight game.

Things weren't looking very good on the Blue Jays end of the lineup either. Adam Lind was 0 for 6 with four strikeouts, and prior to his game-winning hit, Aaron Hill was 0 for 5 with three strikeouts.

For the most part, I think Cito Gaston did a pretty good job of managing the team in extras, especially with the bullpen. The only criticism I had of him was a situation in the bottom of the 11th where Jose Bautisa led of the inning with a walk.

Instead of getting Alex Gonzalez to bunt Bautista up to second base, Gonzalez grounded into a double play which took away almost any chance for the Jays to score in the 11th.

The funny thing is the exact same scenario happened in the bottom of the 14th when Edwin Encarnacion led off with a walk, and then only did Cito instruct Fred Lewis to sacrifice bunt EE over to second base. That would eventually lead to the game winning hit from Aaron Hill.

So now the Blue Jays go for the sweep against the Yankees, but they definitely have an uphill battle ahead of them. After the bullpen picked up five innings of relief yesterday, the Blue Jays will be hoping that Brandon Morrow can make it through a solid 6-7 innings.

Join me for the series conclusion starting at 1pm today over at The Score Live Blog.

8 comments:

  1. Finny how you say The Manager did a good job managing the bullpen. Had he done a good job managing in the 11th and called for the bunt, he wouldn't have had to do that bullpen job, and wouldn't be entering this game with a tired pen.

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  2. I'm just glad that Cito didn't leave any of the relievers out there for one or two batters - each reliever (Gregg/Downs/Camp/Janssen) pitched at least one inning.

    But you're right - if he called for the bunt in the 11th, it could have ended right there. Someone said to me that Cito probably wouldn't do that though since Gonzalez already hit a home run, so maybe he was thinking Gonzo would crush a pitch end end it that way.

    But the way things were going, he should have tried to manufacture runs.

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  3. A good manager should never rely on something as flukey as a poweful hit or a home run. I'd never advocate 100% small ball, but when all you need to score is 1 run, then you go for it when you can.

    The Jays needed only one run, no matter how scored to win. Every time you pass up that chance, you give the other team a chance to run up the score and make it even harder to win.

    On The Simpsons, Mr Burns was able to use the strategy of "You! Go hit a home run!" and have it work. Cito is so in love with himself that he thinks he hit Carter's home run.

    Any manager who passes up the chance to manufacture a
    run over reliving some dramatic moment of the past doesn't belong anywhere in the majors.

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  4. Luckily, Cito got another chance to get it right in the 14th and it worked, but he's not always going to get that second chance in the game.

    Then again, I don't think Cito has really been one to employ the running game or use small-ball tactics, so these lack of moves don't really surprise me.

    It will be interesting to see how he manages these upcoming Interleague series because those games are going to involve a lot of lineup shuffling/pinch hitting, etc.

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  5. Note: I didn't see the game, but I do take issue with this strategic idea...

    A good manager should never rely on something as flukey as a poweful hit or a home run.

    Uh, how is power hitting flukey? While I don't necessarily think Alex Gonzalez is a guy you should count on for it, I imagine more runs score from first with 0 outs than a runner on second with 1 or 2 outs. There are several ways a runner can get over to second - a walk, a steal, a slow grounder, a hit and run - without employing the almost guaranteed out of the bunt.

    If you're talking about bunting a guy from second to third with no outs, then sure, because you still have two shots and an out to play with to get someone in from third. With a runner on first, no outs, or a runner on second, one out, you still need someone to get a big hit either way.

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  6. Relying on a home run the way the CitoBot 2000 does is totally flukey, especially with the dome open (vis many people saying "wow, look at all the HRs we'd have if it was closed). It's a good tool to have powerful hitters, but not the only tool. The Bot treats it as his only tool, and he'd rather risk losing the game so he can pretend he's Joe Carter again rather than employ any strategy when it comes to hitting.

    The way the fans are eating up the home run stat is really embarrassing. Why? Because you can hit 6 home runs in a game and still lose against a horrible team.

    I'd rather take a team of people who can move runners ahead, rather than a whole bunch of solo home runs any day. Gimme a bases clearing double hit by someone who can split the outfielders than a nice big deep hit wasted because it didn't have enough to get out of the park and winds up in Nick Swisher's glove.

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  7. One other thing to add to the bunt conversation is that after the Gonzales double play, Overbay hit a nice solid single that would have been the game winning RBI.

    Ian - I've noticed that it's starting to come a little back to Earth. I just hope the team realizes there are other ways they can score runs.

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  8. Just my guess, but I think they're in a "if it ain't broke, don't fix it mode". Hitting coach Dwayne Murphy is preaching being aggressive, and so far that has worked.

    But like you said, once it stops working then they will definitely have to start drastically changing their approach at the plate.

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