Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Downs heading to DL; Cito fuming

Scott Downs injured his left foot running out of the batters box last night against the Phillies. Downs, unaccustomed to taking hacks at the plate, broke toward first after making contact, appearing to roll his foot. He took himself out of the contest, and afterwords X-rays came back negative. An MRI today revealed Downs has a sprained left toe, so he will be yet another Jays pitcher part of the walking wounded.

Manager Cito Gaston was not a fan of interleague play in National League ball parks before the game, and he was even more livid afterwards. The normally stoic Gaston spoke with conviction, lamenting that his pitchers are not used to swinging the bat, making them much more susceptible to injury when batting. The loss is crippling to a Jays pitching staff that has been ravaged by injuries to Dustin McGowan, Shaun Marcum, Jesse Litsch, Casey Janssen, Ricky Romero and most recently Roy Halladay.

With Downs going on the shelf the Jays could entertain slotting reliable Jason Frasor into the 9th inning to close out games. In 2004, he shut down 17 games for Toronto. There is also former stopper B.J. Ryan that could at some point slide back in the role (he hasn't given up a run in 7 straight appearances), or call up Jeremy Accardo to tab him as the team's closer. Accardo has 9 saves and a 3.38 ERA for AAA Las Vegas this season and previously, saved 30 games for the Jays in 2007.

Rolen's statistical oddity

Blue Jays third baseman Scott Rolen has quietly put together a good season at the dish, though it's not without a head scratching statistical oddity. His average has been outstanding, yet his power numbers and RBI total are very low. With the Jays lacking production from the clean-up spot in the order, manager Cito Gaston has handed the responsibility over to Rolen.

On the surface, that would appear strange, but not when you consider that in 55 games, Rolen has hit at a .323 clip. In the month of June, Rolen has been scorching the ball with a stellar .416 batting average but has no home runs and just 2 RBI to show for it. Taking that further, his home run (3) and RBI (20) totals on the campaign would seem to indicate he leaves a lot to be desired. But does he?

In Tuesday night's ball game against Philly, Rolen, in his first game as the clean-up hitter, socked a single in the 9th inning, allowing Vernon Wells to move to 3rd, where he eventually scored the tying run. Then in the 10th frame, he came up huge again, poking a single to drive in the game winning run.

Rolen changed his swing in light of his persistent shoulder troubles that have plagued him the past couple of seasons. It seems to be paying off, at least in terms of his batting average. Now that he's been given a bigger role, perhaps those home run and RBI totals will jump so the only oddity then will be his batting stance.

Alex Rios is a buffoon

I've thought Alex Rios has been a bonehead this season countless times, and has been an awful player, but last night's base running gaffe in the 8th inning takes the cake for the dumbest screw up he's made all year.

In the 8th inning, with the Jays trailing 3-2, they have the bases juiced with only one out. Rios is standing 90 feet away from tying the contest. Marco Scutaro lifts a fly ball to left, easily deep enough for a sacrifice fly to score Rios. But there's just one problem. Stupefyingly, Rios breaks for home, then realises he's a pylon so he retreats to 3rd. Subsequently, he doesn't score, and the Jays failed to tie score in the inning. WHAT...WERE...YOU...THINKING?

Luckily, the Jays ended up squaring the game in the 9th and won in extra innings so it's not as big a deal. But you can bet manager Cito Gaston lambasted him for that colossal base running blunder.

I'm so sick of writing about how Alex Rios is a terrible baseball player. Really, I am. But how can I not keep bringing it up when he constantly messes up?