Blue Jays ace R.A. Dickey (still get giddy typing those words out) shut down the offense that scored seven runs last night, allowing just two hits in his six innings of work. Dickey was perfect for 3.2 innings, but did get some good fielding early: Adam Dunn hit a knuckler into the hole between first and second, but Brett Lawrie, the shifted third baseman, was waiting in shallow right field for it. It took a great hop off the turf, and Lawrie threw it to first with some English, but Edwin Encarnacion made a great stretching grab at first to get Dunn. Dickey's bid for perfection was ruined when Alex Rios, amid a chorus of boos from the crowd, lined a single in front of centre fielder Emilio Bonifacio. After a wild pitch in the dirt allowed Rios to advance, Dickey walked Paul Konerko, but ended up striking out Adam Dunn to end the inning. Dickey cruised through the fifth, having had a nasty-looking knuckleball all evening.
In the sixth, he looked like he was in some pain after striking out Dewayne Wise. He remained in the game and retired the next batter Jeff Keppinger on one pitch, one that MLB.com's Gameday called an "eephus" for some reason. PitchF/X over at Brooks Baseball hows 0 horizontal movement and about +3 inches of vertical movement, so I'm not so sure about Gameday's call. Dickey did not return in the seventh, having been removed because of back and neck stiffness.
The final line for Dickey, who got the victory: 6 innings pitched, 0 runs, 2 hits, 7 strikeouts, 1 walk, 64 pitches, 47 of them for strikes. He actually got White Sox batters to whiff on 23% of his pitches tonight. Filth.
The Blue Jays offense continued to be anemic, getting only four hits on the night and striking out six times. However, unlike previous games, the batters managed to get the hits at the right time, and had some luck on their side too.
Rajai Davis led off the bottom of the first with a single, then stole second and third. Encarnacion then dropped a timely single to score Davis to get the blue birds in flight 1-0. In the bottom of the second, the Jays got two men on to start the inning, but Henry Blanco grounded to Chicago shortstop Alexei Ramirez, who turned it into a rally-killing double play, with Izturis advancing to third. Munenori Kawasaki then chopped one out Ramirez's way, and he again turned it into a nice play to end the inning. Kawasaki showed his range in the top of the fifth: Dayan Viciedo hit a ball that ricocheted off of DIckey's heel up the middle, but the new fan-favourite ranged far to his left, caught it, did a 360 before throwing it to first (川﨑 宗則!!!!!!). Unfortunately it wasn't in time, but the very next batter Kawasaki started a double play.
Runs two and three for the Blue Jays were scored on a bit of luck. Leadoff hitter Emilio Bonifacio was hit in the inner thigh by White Sox starter Chris Sale. Sale became distracted from Bonifacio dancing off of first, and tried to pick him off. On the second pickoff attempt, Chris Saled it past first baseman Adam Dunn into left field, and the speedy Boney advanced all the way to third. Henry Blanco hits a shallow fly to right fielder Alex Rios and Bonifacio faked to home but held at third to respect Rios' arm. The next batter, Kawasaki, hit a grounder to first but Dunn booted it, allowing Bonifacio to score. Davis was up next and had an excellent nine-pitch at bat in which he fouled off several tough pitches before lining one to the left field gap for an RBI double, unfortunately he made a bonehead play and got himself picked off right after:
Rajai Davis had the At Bat of the Game (graph via www.brooksbaseball.net)
Toronto batters didn't get much, but three runs were all they needed. Esmil Rogers got four straight outs before being pulled after allowing a single to Ramirez. Lefty Aaron Loup was brought in to face Conor Gillaspie, but Robin Ventura played matchup and pinch hit Tyler Greene instead, with another righty, Tyler Flowers, on deck. Loup struggled against the two Tylers: Greene hit a deep fly ball for an out, and Flowers just missed a homer by a couple of feet.Davis tried to make a jump catch at the J.B. Goodhue sign, but he mistimed it and that resulted in Ramirez scoring. However, with a weak arm, Davis probably wouldn't have been able to get Ramirez at the plate if he had played it off the wall anyway.
Brett Lawrie continued to struggle with timing, going 0-for-3 with a couple of strikeouts. I think that he'd still be rehabbing in the minors to get his timing back if it wasn't for the injuries to Jose Reyes and Jose Bautista.
An interesting move in the game is that John Gibbons called on Colby Rasmus to replace Bonifacio in centre field in the top of the eighth inning. Perhaps that hit-by-pitch earlier in the game started to cause him enough discomfort. I would've thought that was a defensive upgrade move, but Gibby said just this week that he doesn't "know if there's that much of a difference in centre field with Bonifacio and Rasmus."
Casey Janssen came in for a boring 1-2-3 ninth to get the save. (And he threw five fewer pitches than words used in the previous sentence.) Janssen is now five-for-five to start the season in save opportunities.
Jays of the Day: Dickey (+.344), Boney (+.134), Davis (+.104) has it by the numbers, but I should really take it away from him for that stupid pickoff, but it's a win so I feel generous. I'll give a JoD to Janssen (+.078) too.
Suckage Jays: Blanco (-.134) for killing a rally.
This game also featured one of the most boring win expectancy graphs ever:
The announced attendance for the Dickey-Sale showdown was 18,015, a few thousand better than the games at the beginning of the week, but that number is expected to skyrocket this weekend as the New York Yankees stroll into town. The weekend games are near sellouts, so if you are looking to grab yourself an Edwin Encarnacion bobblehead doll this Sunday, make sure you get to the park before noon.