Thursday, June 18, 2009

Barajas comes through in a pinch

What a time for Rod Barajas to crush his first career pinch hit home run. Barajas came through with a clutch solo shot in a deadlocked ball game in the 9th inning against the Phils, securing a series sweep of the defending champs. What made it extra special for the Jays catcher is it came against his former ball club, one that has a fan base with a long memory in the city of brotherly love.

Much like Scott Rolen, Barajas was jeered every time he came to the plate, having served as the Phillies backstop for 48 games in 2007. In both Rolen and Barajas' cases, they scorched the ball in the series, exacting a small measure of revenge on their former organization. Barajas hit a pair of dingers in the 3 game set, in addition to a critical 2 run double in extra innings of the second contest.

How sweet it must be for Barajas. How sweet it is for a Blue Jays club that was bailed out by one swing of the bat after squandering countless opportunities yet again with the bases loaded.

Wells flying high in Philly

Maybe it's a sign our overpaid centre fielder is getting his act together. Or maybe Vernon Wells will revert back to being useless. Either way, Wells' solid series against the Phillies will hopefully kick start his limp season.

Wells capped off the series sweep by having his finest ball game in recent memory. V-Dub went 3 for 6 at the plate, driving in two runs with a pair of CLUTCH hits and making a slick sliding grab to preserve a one run lead in the 9th inning. In the series, Wells went 6 for 16 at the dish, also coming up with a big in the first game of the series with a lead off single in the 9th inning on Tuesday. He eventually game in to count the tying run, and the Jays walked away with an extra innings victory.

Dare I say it? Might we be seeing a more relaxed Wells in his new slot in the batting order? I'm not proclaiming him worth every penny of his 7 year/$126 million contract just yet, but it's no coincidence the Blue Birds are winning now that he's playing well.

Mixed results for Mills in first career start

Given the rash of injuries to the Jays rotation, another rookie southpaw was summoned to the big league rotation, and this time it was Brad Mills' turn. The 24 year old rookie showed flashes of potential in his first career start, but also experienced bouts of erratic play against a strong Phillies lineup.

His stat line looks rather indicative of a rookie making his first start against the defending World Series Champs. Mills served up a pair of home runs in 3.2 innings, allowing 4 earned runs, 6 hits and 4 walks with only 2 strikeouts in a no decision. However, Mills showed he could work his way out of a couple of jams and displayed his sharp 12-6 curveball that looked as dynamic as any Jays youngster coming through the system.

Mills' outing is indicative of his play down in AAA Las Vegas this season. He's had some quality starts sprinkled in with a few bad ones. His record is 1-8, with a fairly respectable ERA just under 4.50, so he could still use more seasoning at the minor league level. However, he'll have to take his licks for at least one more start in the majors with the injury bug biting again in Toronto.

Mills went 15-5 the past two minor league seasons, shooting through the system to make it to this point. He's got some game, it might just take a while to fully blossom.

Richmond phenomenal in career outing

I never thought I'd say this. Scott Richmond is the 2nd most experienced starter on the Jays pitching staff given the latest injuries to Roy Halladay and Casey Janssen. That means that Brian Tallet is the grizzled vet on the starting staff. Holy crap, how are the Jays still in contention?

If Richmond has stellar outings like he did Wednesday against the Phillies, Toronto might just be able to hold down the fort until their workhorse Halladay, and others, get healthy. Richmond went 8 solid innings against the defending World Series champs, setting a career watermark of 11 strike outs. The 29 year old rookie picked up his first win in 6 starts, and put his first "W" in a month and a half. Richmond was dominant down the stretch out of the contest, retiring the last 13 batters he faced.

Who would have thought Richmond would have done this well this season? The American League rookie of the month in April has far exceeded expectations, and will have to continue to do so if the Jays are to keep their heads above water in the coming two weeks.

2 more go down; Janssen & Halladay to the DL

The injuries just keep on coming for the Toronto Blue Jays pitching staff. Already without the services of starters Dustin McGowan, Shaun Marcum and Jesse Litsch, they have lost their ace Roy Halladay, their #2 starter Casey Janssen, and the closer Scott Downs all in one day (ONE DAY!) When will the injuries stop? This is getting out of hand.

How many other teams could withstand the losses to all their hurlers and still be in the hunt? Not to mention in the toughest division, the American League East. Imagine if the Yankees lost their big three, C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mariano Rivera on the same day. That day would have been tabbed as Armageddon. Instead, the Jays just pick themselves up and carry on with their business as usual.
I like the fact that Halladay was put on the disabled list rather than having him pitch in Washington. There is no need for him to have to further injure his wonky groin, especially in light of Downs' going down after taking a hack in the batters box. Unfortunately, Janssen is back on the disabled list with inflammation in his shoulder, the same injury that forced him to miss the first 2 months of the season. Having Janssen shelved certainly doesn't kill the Blue Birds because Janssen had a rather pedestrian 6.23 ERA in 5 starts.

It's business as usual for Toronto. Next up, a matinee affair tomorrow in the final game of a 3 game set against the Phils.