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Archive for May, 2011

A long time coming and a little bit of deja vu

May 31, 2011 2 comments

So, Jo-Jo finally got his much-awaited win in the Jays 11-1 rout of the suddenly struggling Cleveland Indians. Spurred on by some fantastic defense in the first few innings, Jo-Jo carried that momentum all the way to the first complete game of his career. The interesting part? The man he tied for the record, Matt Keough, also threw a 1-run complete game in his next start to avoid the record.

So much for my prediction that the Jays wouldn’t light up the Indians in this series. 11 runs on 13 hits in the opener and maybe the Jays bats are finally coming around. And the man I said might be able to protect Jose Bautista (Juan Rivera) went 0-5 behind him snapping his 11-game hit streak. It was a bad night of predictions on my part.

It’s Morrow vs. Talbot tonight and I think the Jays are going to jump on him as well. Talbot is coming off a rough outing against Boston and is still fresh off the DL. As for Morrow, he hasn’t been great, but he hasn’t been terrible either so far this season. However, I think Jays fans were expecting close to ace type stuff from him after his performance last season and he isn’t anywhere near that yet. Perhaps tonight he can get deep into the ball game and the Jays give him a comfortable lead like they did Jo-Jo.

Notice all those empty seats behind Jo-Jo? The Jays only drew about 12, 900 last night. The fact is, this team won’t start drawing even mediocre crowds on a Monday night against the Indians until they are in a legitimate pennant race.

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Categories: Toronto Blue Jays

The Weekend Review

The Jays won 3 of 4 against the White Sox but with the AL-leading Cleveland Indians in town tonight you might want to tone down the excitement. The Jays won’t light up the Indians like they did the White Sox. A 4 game weekend series against the White Sox was something the Jays needed after spinning their tires for the past two weeks. The Jays have dominated the White Sox since practically 2006 and no less than 3 out of 4 would have been acceptable. They took care of business, but the lasting feeling was something still wasn’t right. The bullpen blew another late lead, the injuries keep piling up, and Carlos Villanueva reverted to the 28 career start Villanueva we all know.

The Jays need to win the first game of this series (for Jo-Jo Reyes’ sake) and hit more consistently. Jose Bautista is starting to cool off just a bit. It was always going to be impossible for him to keep up his torrid pace, so someone needs to protect him during any sort of mini-slump. I’m not saying he’s in a slump or struggling at all it’s just that he has practically been the Jays offense for the first two months this season and any dip in his production will send the Jays dipping as well. But, with Adam Lind still far away and Travis Snider wasting away in the minors, who will step up for the Jays? Perhaps surprisingly Juan Rivera has and might continue to while he rides a career-high 11 game hit streak.

Check out this article on the best stadiums in the MLB and make of it what you will. I, for one, did not make much of it. http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/29/ranking-baseballs-best-ballparks/

The view from the Green Monster

Speaking of ball parks, I visited Boston this weekend and got a chance to visit Fenway Park. Fenway is a gorgeous stadium with tons of interesting eccentricities. The picture above was taken from the seats above the Green Monster and let me tell you it is a long way up.

When the discussion of best cities to play in inevitably pops up in conversation Boston is always somewhere in the top 5. After visiting the city I finally get why. Forget top 5 and put it at number 1. It’s a beautiful city in the mold of an old European one with a storied history and passionate fan base. It’s not overwhelmingly big, but it still gives you the sense that it’s a legit place to be. And with the recent success of the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics, and now Bruins it leaves a bitterly disappointed Torontonian like myself very envious.

Toronto FC’s Champions League hopes were spared by lightning a few nights ago, but nothing would stop the Philadelphia Union from crushing them 6-2 on Saturday. Five years in and Toronto FC is comfortably placing themselves at the top of MLSE’s inept franchises. It’s going to be another long season with another “rebuild” in the future.

What’s one thing Toronto FC and Manchester United have in common? They were both humiliated on Saturday. While United fought hard and went into half-time level at 1-1 there was always the sense that Barcelona had a few more gears to hit. Barcelona has this way of ever so slightly raising the temperature, the intensity, the pressure and by the 54th minute had snatched their opportunity. Lionel Messi scored another brilliant goal, his 12th in the competition, and Barcelona never looked back.

The talk after the game was about Messi and the dominance of this Barcelona team. Messi will arguably go down as one of the greatest players ever and this Barcelona team is more technically gifted than perhaps any team in history. However, the thing that makes both of those statements possible is the often overlooked Xavi Hernandez. He doesn’t always get the recognition he deserves but he is the heart of Barcelona.

Again I ask you guys: What’s the storyline for a Vancouver-Boston series besides the long drought of winning?

The Mavericks and Heat series starts tomorrow and it’s prediction time. Mavericks in 6.

Categories: Uncategorized

Hill hits grand slam as Jays crush White Sox

Hill's 1st inning grand slam was his first home run since Sept 29, 2010.

Aaron Hill and Edwin Encarnacion certainly picked a good time to hit their first home runs of the season – in consecutive at-bats. Hill’s was a 1st inning grand slam – the first of the year for the Jays – followed by Encarnacion’s solo shot that capped a 6-run inning off White Sox’s starter John Danks. Danks has been atrocious so far this season and with the loss pushed his record to 0-8 with an ERA of 5.25 It took Danks 51 pitches to get through the first inning – the most pitches thrown in any inning this season.

Later, Danks was involved in a minor verbal scuffle with Jose Bautista after Bautista popped up, threw his bat to the ground in disgust, and jogged to first base. Danks believed Bautista was showing him up, and Bautista claimed he was just frustrated he missed his pitch.

Ricky Romero didn’t have the smoothest of afternoons, but managed to get through 7 giving up only 2 runs improving his record to 5-4 on the season. Casey Janssen, who has been the Jays best reliever this season, pitched a perfect 8th and Shawn Camp had a rough 9th giving up two runs – luckily the Jays were winning 13-2 by that point, so a late inning collapse wasn’t in the cards.

The Jays finished the series winning 3 straight and continued their dominance over the White Sox winning the last 15 of 18 overall in Toronto. They look to continue swinging a hot bat when they welcome the AL-leading Cleveland Indians to town today. Jo-Jo Reyes is on the mound looking to avoid history for the most consecutive starts without a win. He’ll face Fausto Carmona who’s 3-0 with a 3.21 ERA in 5 career starts against the Jays.

Categories: Toronto Blue Jays

Patterson walk-off wins it in 14th

Corey Patterson went 5-7 including a walk-off home run in the 14th as the Jays won back-to-back games for the first time in nearly two weeks. However, the story today will be the inability of the Jays bullpen to hold onto a late lead again. The culprit? Frank Francisco. He’s blown three straight saves and, if Farrell has finally learned his lesson, won’t see any late game situations for the foreseeable future.

Jose Bautista hit his league-leading 20th homer and Juan Rivera had a bases-clearing double in the 7th to give the Jays an 8-6 lead. The White Sox scored one in each of the final two innings and squandered a few opportunities to win the game in extra innings.

The Jays look to close the series with 3 straight wins in tomorrow’s finale.

Categories: Uncategorized

Night on the Town

Game 7. Friday night. Incredible weather. Should be an amazing night in the city of Boston. Also, if you’ve never visited Boston the next time you make plans to visit the US seriously consider it. It’s a gorgeous city that’s very different than most big cities in North America. To keep it sports related I’ll put up some pics of my trip to Fenway which, as expected, had a tremendous amount of character. I definitely have to come back and watch the Jays on a sunny afternoon at Fenway.

Speaking of the Jays, when they face the White Sox tonight they’ll only have Eric Thames on the bench. E5 and Johnny Mac are injured and can only play on an emergency basis. Kyle Drabek is looking to improve on his last outing where his command was better, but he still had too many 3-ball counts. The Jays, who had been playing fantastic up until that late inning collapse against Houston, look to avoid their 4th straight loss.

I’m off to the pub now to get some seats to watch the Bruins. What’s the storyline in a Bruins-Canucks series besides the long droughts without a Stanley Cup for both teams (in Vancouver’s case no cups)?

Categories: Uncategorized

Boston, Boston, Boston

May 27, 2011 3 comments

In town for a few days for a little rest and relaxation. I’ve always wanted to catch a game at Fenway Park, unfortunately, the Red Sox aren’t in town as they play in Detroit this weekend. However, with the Bruins game 7 tonight it could mean a wild party and I’ll be at the centre of the action here in downtown Boston.

Not much to report in Toronto sports outside of the worrisome trend that is the late inning collapse of the Blue Jays bullpen. However, a rare John Mcdonald throwing error was the catalyst as the Jays dropped the opener to the White Sox 3-1.

Toronto FC can thank Thor for giving them another opportunity to advance to the CONCACAF Champions League. Vancouver was leading 1-0 and in position to advance, when after several delays, the game had to be stopped. The replay will take place on July 2nd, and because of NCC rules, replayed from the beginning.

Bulls with an epic collapse last night and the Heat move on which means I’m a Texan for the next two weeks.

Categories: Uncategorized

JoJo joins exclusive club of ineptitude

After 3 Jo-Joesque innings today, Reyes tied Matt Keough of the 1978-79 Oakland Athletics and Cliff Curtis of the 1910-11 Boston Braves for the MLB record of 28 consecutive starts without a win. If there is a silver lining it’s that Keough threw a complete game in his next start to break the streak. However, with the way Jo-Jo is throwing and the red-hot Cleveland Indians coming to town, Jo-Jo soon might own that illustrious record.

And yet with the news of Litsch’s shoulder most likely being worse than first indicated and Brett Cecil still struggling with his velocity in AAA, Jo-Jo still has a solid grasp on the No.4 spot in the rotation. Amazing. 28 consecutive starts without a win and Jo-Jo somehow still has a job. So, congratulations are in order for Jo-Jo Reyes because that is more impressive than his new record.

Categories: Toronto Blue Jays