After 2 big wins and lots of bad DL news, tough game Thursday!

Left-hander Brad Mills is going to make his MLB debut for our Jays. He went 13-5 with 1.96 ERA last year between Single-A and Double-A.

Yet, he was 1-8 with a 4.48 ERA in 13 starts so far this year at Las Vegas of the Pacific Coast League.

Personally, if we can get a six-inning decent start and remain as a team in the game, I would be fairly satisfied.

Right now, our healthy starters are: Scott Richmond, Brian Tallet, Ricky Romero, Casey Janssen.

In the bullpen, the healthy guys are: Brandon League (doing fine, besides the loss to Florida), Jesse Carlson, BJ Ryan, Jason Frasor, Shawn Camp and Dirk Hayhurst.

Doc's status for his next start in Washington is uncertain but heck, let's hope we can win such a game even if he doesn't make that start!

Michael Barrett is in rehab. Dustin McGowan in the best scenario could be back in late July. Shawn Marcum might be able to return tin August.

Despite being a big Cito fan, Scott Downs' injury had to be avoided at all costs: he must stand still, if he has to bat!

Let's see what the stats are telling us about our team after our last 2 very good road victories.........

This month, the Jays on two occasions (the 2nd was on the last 2 nights, of course) have allowed 3 or fewer runs in at least 2 straight games (the 1st occurrence was June 7, 8 and 9 we won 4-0 behind Doc at home against KC and then we won 6-3 and 9-0 back-to-back at Texas!). Very good news! 

In May, the club allowed 3 or fewer runs in 2 or more consecutive games on 3 different occasions (including consecutive home wins against Boston 5-3 and 6-3 on May 29 and 30).

In April as well, the club allowed 3 or fewer runs in 2 or more consecutive games on 3 different occasions.

Everything starts with pitching! In All-Star Game news, both Aaron Hill and Marco Scutaro are doing great but both are just 4th in voting for their respective positions. Aaron leads the team with 15 homers and 47 RBI. Marco is hitting is .291 with 5 homers and 29 RBI.

Marco Scutaro had a bumpy 0-for-6 game Wednesday night but is 1st among all AL leadoff hitters as he's reached base 120 times and has scored 50 runs so far this year. In all his 2007 season in Oakland, he had 49 runs scored!

In all of 2008, Marco Scutaro hit 23 doubles. This year, he has 19 already! Plus, he's walked 43 times so far this year compared with 57 in all of last season!

In 2007 and 2008, Scutaro had more strikeouts than walks. While he's fanned 33 times already this year (compared with 65 in all of last year), thus far he has more walks than strikeouts in 2009. Excellent news for our club!

Vernon Wells' watch (he's born in 1978 like me, come on man!): he's 3 for 10 in the last 2 games but still no long ball from him in 147 at bats, ouch! In steals, he's 11 for 11 this year after totaling just 14 in the previous 2 seasons!

In all of 2007, Vernon had 49 walks in 149 games. In all of 2008, he drew just 29 walks in 108 games but so far in 2009, he's walked 24 games in 67 games. That's very useful for the club but he has just 7 hits in his last 55 at bats!

On Philly's side, big difference in its home production compared to last year. Through 31 games, the 2008 Phillies went 19-12 at home batting .272 as a team. In 2009, they are 13-18 batting just .249 as a team. Good for us!

On the pitching side, through 31 games, the 2008 Phillies' rotation had a 3.82 home ERA with 33 homers allowed but the 2009 Philly rotation has a 5.35 home ERA with 53 long balls served up! Let's hope it continues!

For Philly, Joe Blanton starts Thursday's day game (sigh, I can only follow it on the web!). Blanton is 4-3 this year with a 5.17 ERA. There's a big difference between his home figures (1-2 with a 5.94 ERA this year) and his last 4 starts (2-0 with a 2.00 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 27 innings!).

Even on Friday, when Philly lost 5-2 to Boston in 13 innings, Blanton gave up just 2 runs in 7 innings. The bad news is that Blanton is 3-0 with a 1.57 ERA in his last three starts against our Jays! Ouch! He used to pitch in Oakland.

Blanton up to this point this year has fanned 65 and walked only 23.

May I spend a few nice words on Ricky Romero? In Tuesday's good win, he fanned 9 (a career best) including both Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanex three times apiece! Ricky is 1-1 with a 3.10 ERA in his last 3 starts with 20 strikeouts in 20 1/3 innings (mighty good!). With steady run support, I like to think we can expect good things from Ricky.

Scott Rolen leads the club with a .325 average! In his career, he is hitting .336 (47-for-140) with 3 homers and 25 RBI! He is on a beautiful 7-game hitting streak during which he is hitting .517 (15 for 29). He has had at least 2 hits in each of the last 3 games going 7 for 13 with a homer, 3 RBI, two walks and a steal over that stretch! Excellent!

Rolen's homer on Wednesday was his first since May 5 when the Jays won 10-6 at home against Cleveland.

I should point out that Adam Lind is a strange stretch: over the last 9 games, he's 9 for 37 but 3 for 9 in the last two games. His homer on Tuesday broke an 0 for 13 skid. Yet, he has 4 homers in his last 8 games.

Lind had gone 0 for 12 in the Florida home series. Yet, he had gone 6 for 16 in the 4 games played before the Florida series. He had 6 RBI in our 2 wins at Texas (June 8 and 9) but since, he has just 1 RBI thanks to his long ball on Tuesday night.

The Jays have scored 7 or more runs in each of the last 2 games. That also happened in our 2 wins at Texas on June 8 and 9.

Yet, before then that has happened just twice: May 5 and 6 (wins against Cleveland at home, 10-6, and at the LA Angels 13-1 when we got Vernon's last long ball), April 15 and 16 (consecutive wins, 12-2 and 9-2, in Minneapolis).

Oddly enough, we had scored 7 runs only once this year before Wednesday's win and we had lost (at home, go figure, on May 4 to Cleveland by a 9-7 score!). The Jays are 17-2 this year when scoring 7 or more runs.

I can't believe we lost two such games but yes, once 9-7 and once 12-10 in Baltimore when Doc left with an 8-3 lead and.....well, damn!

In 30 games this year, the Jays held the opponent to 3 or fewer games going 25-5 thus far.

Despite scoring three and going up 3-0 after the 1st inning on Wednesday's win, so far in 2009 the Jays have 33 runs scored and 38 allowed in the opening frame!

On Wednesday, Toronto's 1 to 6 hitters went 11 for 27!

Our club tops the AL in hits and doubles. By the way, the team leader in intentional walks drawn is Lyle Overbay with five.

It's a pleasure to note that Romero (7.3 K per 9 IP) and Richmond (7.1 K per 9 IP) aren't far from Doc's own ratio of 7.7 K per 9 IP! Those two together have 90 Ks and 38 walks this year. Doc has 88 Ks and 12 walks.

Richmond is our only starter to have issued an intentional walk this year, by the way.

Brian Tallet has the lowest figure, as far as hits allowed per 9 IP at 7.5.

Folks, Alex Rios has just 1 hit less than Adam Lind thus far this year (76 to 77), how about that? Marco Scutaro himself has 76 hits. Aaron Hill's 87 tops the club.

Overbay and Lind are 2nd and 3rd on the team in walks drawn, good.

The Jays strike out once every 6 at bats and have a 1.65 SO/BB ratio. I feel there's room to improve further. Wells leads the team, he's fanned once every 8.9 at bats, Rolen has fanned once every 8 ABs.

While the team gets an RBI every 7.4 AB, Lyle Overbay is getting one every 4.4 at bats. Lovely discovery!

Talking about possible improvements, 38 steals in 47 tries as a team isn't bad at 81% but Scutaro's 6 for 10 weighs a lot.

Hill, Rios and Scutaro have 10 or more infield singles apiece this year. The more, the better, I'm not picky at all!

Bad news: in pinch hitting, the club is just 2 for 13 with Snider and Barajas both being 1 for 1 this year.

Only 20 of the Jays' 71 homers have come against lefties this year and only 29 have been hit on the road.

Just in 12% of possible situations, we hit into a DP but in 10 of those 62 GIDP, Rios was the culprit and Hill has had the same problem 10 times too.

Only 15% of our baserunners this year have scored (including when there hsn't been an RBI) and just 34% of our outs have been classified as productive outs (advancing a runner on base for example and so on).

We botched 4 of 18 sac bunts up to now. As far as clutch stuff, with a man on 3rd and less than 2 outs, we got that run home only 53% of the time (77 times in 145 chances). We do need a better effort.

It gets worse though! With a man on 2nd and nobody out, we got that run home just 47% of the time (81 times in 174 opportunities). Improvement is surely needed!

Lyle Overbay is 2 shy of 1400 total bases for his 9-year career.

In closing, I don't wish to be too harsh but to stay in this tough race, we need every bit of improvement in clutch situations that we can muster. Best wishes to everybody, enjoy the day game for me as well!

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