After a blazing 5-1 start including a clean sweep of the Orioles, it’s getting hard for baseball analysts to explain their predictions of 100 losses for the club. Especially given many of those losses were to be at the expense of Baltimore, pretty much the consensus to finish 4th in the AL East.
There they were Sunday, in the finale of their series with O’s. Yet this game was different, not pitching-wise, in which Shaun Marcum delivered another gem, going 6.0 strong innings with 2 earned runs and allowing 9 baserunners. What was different was the source of runs, Alex Gonzalez homering not once but twice and the other runs coming off Encarnacion and Bautista homers. Did anyone expect A-Gonz to be tied for the major-league lead in homers, with who else but Vernon Wells?
It’s certainly good news for the club, as so far their shortstop switch with Boston is looking like a good move, with Scutaro already providing a costly error, and not providing nearly as good a bat as Gonzalez.
But back to game, I was certainly worried with the game going into the 8th, as Kevin Millwood was putting up a gem and had only thrown about 70 pitches through seven. But I could tell that he was getting impatient with Bautista, and sure enough Bautista took him for a ride in a big way, putting the club on top with a narrow lead. But, feeding on the confidence and on Millwood’s sudden shakiness, Encarnacion belted a second homer to widen the gap and give me confidence that they Jays had it all but locked up.
Amusingly, Casey Janssen pitched the seventh and picked up his majors-leading third win of the season, and Downs pitched a perfect eighth to cement his 0.00 ERA. Kevin Gregg came in for the save, giving him two on the season, one less than our full-time closer Jason Frasor.
The Jays open the Rogers Centre for the season tonight, facing up against the Chicago White Sox. Aaron Hill may play in the game, according to Cito, and Brian Tallet will take to the mound, while Jake Peavy will pitch for the ChiSox. If Aaron Hill is back, I think he’ll hit a home run for sure and power the Jays to a 7-5 victory, with Tallet having one of his familiar 6 IP, 3 ER games and Jason Frasor picking up the save.
(Photo courtesy of Associated Press)