Monday, September 10, 2012

Signs of Life in September

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A 162 game baseball season truly is a marathon, and not a sprint. With it comes a myriad of highs and lows. And at times, it can be difficult to see the forest through the trees.

Take last week for example; after a 12-0 drubbing at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles and a season high 15 games under .500, that was undoubtedly the lowest point of the 2012 Toronto Blue Jays season. However, it's amazing how things can suddenly change just a few days later.

It might just be a small victory, but the Blue Jays are no longer in possession of last place in the AL East. They also received reinforcements in the way of Brett Lawrie and J.P. Arencibia. And of course, Toronto's now riding a 4-game win streak.

A few of the bright spots came in the way of Anthony Gose and Adeiny Hechavarria. Since making his second tour with the Blue Jays this season, Anthony Gose has almost looked like an entirely different player at the plate, and Hechavarria has been much improved as well.

It's been suggested that one of the main reasons why Gose and Hech have improved at the plate is due in large part to Chad Mattola joining the Blue Jays coaching staff. I'd tend to agree with that theory, since Dwayne Murphy's "grip it and rip it" hitting philosophy doesn't really play well to those young hitter's strengths.

In fact, apparently the Blue Jays are actually entertaining the idea of running with both Chad Mattola and Dwayne Murphy as hitting coaches next season.

One really encouraging sign from the road trip in Boston was the Blue Jays as a team were simply playing good fundamental baseball. The perfect example of that was the situation that lead to the winning run in Sunday's game.

With the bases loaded and Omar Vizquel coming to the plate, I'll be honest that I wasn't too confident that Omar would be able to come through in the clutch. And yet he came through a sacrifice fly which lead to the game-winning run.

Of course there was also Adeiny Hechavarria's bunt in Wednesday's game against the Orioles which got the ball rolling and lead to a four-run inning which ended up being the difference maker in the series finale.

Executing on fundamental baseball is one thing this young squad has had a tough time sticking to, but since that embarrassing 12-0 loss to the Orioles, the Blue Jays have performed those basics very well.

The battle for last place and pride is inveritably on the line, but I think seeing quality at bats from Toronto's young guns is the most valuable part about September baseball for the Blue Jays.

At this point in the season, the Blue Jays might not be playing for a shot at the postseason, but they're still playing for something in September.

4 comments:

  1. The news about Mottola is encouraging. Never really liked Murphy's "Forget about walks and try to pull everything in the air" philosophy. Doesn't work for everyone.

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    1. I think Murphy's style plays well to the veterans like Bautista, Encarnacion and Lind, but not well with the young guys. Too many times it looks like Gose and Hech are out there hacking when they should be trying to push the count more often.

      And we all know how Murphy feels about on base percentage, so having Mattola to balance that out would probably help.

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    2. Bautista and EE, yes. Lind, not so much. Lind's great 2009 included more walks and more hits to the opposite field. Something that is not Murphy's forte.

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    3. I don't think that Murphy's approach is actually anti-walk. It's that he doesn't want hitters going up there with the intention of getting a walk. There is a difference. Basically, he wants the hitters waiting for their pitch, and then when they get it, hit it as hard as they can. The key there is "waiting for their pitch". If it means taking every pitch, then do it. That is where the walks come from, from waiting for the pitch they are looking for.

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