We sat in section 102 today, a couple of rows back from the camera well next to the Blue Jays dugout. About 4100 fans, including a few wearing Orioles orange. Before the game we met some nice folks from Pennsylvania who, while Phillies fans, came to the game; and we sat next to a father - son pair from Michigan (Tigers fans) who were attending their first game at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
To sing the national anthems, the Blue Jays find local talent. Today's singer was a 9 year girl who was a contestant in Tampa's Got Talent. She did a great job with both anthems; not an easy feat considering how many singers mangle either the Canadian or US national anthems; sometimes both. When she came off the field, the fans in the dugout area applauded her again and Colby Rasmus gave her a high five.Brandon Morrow was everything you've read. Despite giving up a lead-off hit to Endy Chavez and Nick Johnson reaching on an error charged to Yunel Escobar who gloved the ball behind 2B, Morrow got a strike out and ground out to end the inning. The Orioles went in order in the 2nd and 3rd. Morrow's fastball was hitting 94 and the curve and change were mostly in the strike zone. Stretch him out and he looks good to start the season.
Francisco Cordero pitched the 4th getting a flyout to shallow centre and two ground ball outs. Casey Janssen pitched the 5th and didn't waste any time getting a three pitch strikeout and a ground out to second before getting Shawn Beerer to flyout to centre on a 2-2 count plus a couple of foul balls.
Drew Hutchison pitched the 6th and 7th giving up a run on two hits including a double to Ryan Flaherty. He also got three strikeouts, relying on his slider as an out pitch.
Deck McGuire faced three batters in each of the 8th and the 9th innings. He mixed an 89-90 MPH fastball with an 82 MPH slider and an occasional change at 71. He showed good command, only going to a 2 ball count on one batter. (And yes I did get an autograph after complimenting him on a nice outing today - see my last comment.)
Omar Vizquel made a couple of great plays today. In the 2nd inning he barehanded a bouncing ball down the line at 3B and made a strong throw to get the third out. Fans were standing and cheering as he came into the dugout. In the 4th he went deep behind 3B and made a strong throw to first for the out. And he stroked a soft liner into left field to score two runs in the bottom of the 4th to put the Jays up 4-0. Vizquel is looking more likely to break camp with the team as the backup infielder.
Kelly Johnson had a single in the second and stole 2B, walked in the 4th and scored both times. Solid defense, nothing flashy.
Travis Snider walked in the second and in the 4th he hit a high, high flyball to the 336 sign in right field. A strong wind (likely) kept it in the park. It came down on the inside of the wall for a long single; only one run scored.
Chris Woodward made a nice diving play to his right at 3B in the 7th to get the last out of the inning.
Edwin Encarnacion played 1B and LF today. He stills looks a little uncomfortable in LF but he caught everything that was hit to left.
After the game ended there were a lot of Blue Jays fans along the fence from 1B all the way to the right field corner down by the Jays' clubhouse. The players and coaches headed toward the clubhouse, walking on the grass (and not on the dirt of the warning track) essentially ignoring the fans. Typically the players avoid looking at the fans. Along with the usual call for autographs, there were more than a few boos. Four players: Deck McGuire, Edwin Encarnacion, Chris Woodward and Moises Sierra did come over and signed for the fans. I think the Blue Jays need to step it up and show a little more fan appreciation (at least as much as the visiting teams do while they're at FAES).