Let’s get this out of the way first: one good game against a lefty does not mean Adam Lind should be given everyday at bats. He shouldn’t. Nearly 800 plate appearances is enough to suggest, nay, prove, that Lind can’t hit lefties effectively. He’s only once had a league average wRC+ against lefties, in his huge 2009. He can’t do it, even if he did homer and double today.
Gregg Zaun disagrees, and his points are that Lind needs confidence and a consistent rhythm, which isn’t possible with off days against lefties. I’d disagree pretty strongly, especially since Lind is hitting righties just as well right now as he did in his huge 2009 year, when he played every day. If it’s not impacting his performance against righties, why risk lowering his confidence by having him struggle against southpaws (while also hurting the team).
Anyway, Lind and the other lefties, Rasmus and Gose, did most of the damage tonight. Perhaps Robbie Erlin will end up as a Ricky Romero reverse-splits type. The trio of lefties combined for six of the Jays’ 11 hits (albeit one of Rasmus’ were off right-handed closer Luke Gregerson). This was especially impressive given the wide strike zone Doug Eddings was calling.
Three runs off 11 hits is a bit disappointing (as is the zero walks, though Erlin pounded the strikezone). The Jays continued a worrying trend from the last while, or the whole season really, stranding eight baserunners, including two in the ninth.
Jose Bautista continued his struggles, going 0-for-5 and leaving two men on base to end the game. Bautista let a terrific pitch go in the final at bat of the game, looking at a Gregerson slider that had almost no vertical break, hanging in the upper-outside portion of the plate. On the next pitch, a low slider with more movement, Bautista grounded out to end the game. He’s no one for his last 20 after a serious hot streak, a not unusual occurrence for Joey Bats. It’ll turn quickly.
On the hill, Mark Buehrle did his best but suffered from an error of his own doing, finishing with three Ernies and one Bert (four runs total) over six innings. I was a bit surprised he didn’t head out for the seventh, at 98 pitches, given the state of the bullpen from Friday’s game. Buehrle has thrown 114 or more pitches (his seven-inning pace from tonight) 49 times in his career, including three times last year, and shown no ill effects.
Instead, John Gibbons turned to Neil Wagner to face a right-handed and switch-hitting chunk of the order. Wagner looked decent once again, scattering two hits and a walk in two innings without striking anyone out. Wagner’s now gone 4.2 shutout on the season, carrying his Triple-A excellence with him to the majors. Wagner has always had great strikeout rates and appears to have limited his walks the past two years, giving him some potential staying power with Toronto.
The most important thing from Saturday’s game, in terms of their chances on Sunday, is that the bullpen got a full day of rest other than Wagner. With Ramon Ortiz on the bump against Edinson Volquez tomorrow, there’s a strong chance both bullpens will be needed once again.
Tomorrow could be a better day, one that will allow the Jays to avoid a sweep that really took its toll on the health and depth of the team’s pitching, as if it were possible for that situation to worsen. The Jays have now lost 4-3 twice in a row and, even with a human gas-can like Volquez on the mound, the Jays have a disadvantage in starting pitching. The bats will need to be lively, and 18 men left on base over two games won’t fly again. (Hey, it’s almost as if a lot of hits aren’t as effective at scoring runs as home runs, eh?)
I’m probably missing some minor points since I was switching between following on MLB TV on mute and on the TV with sound. Let me know in the comments and double back tomorrow for the odd Sunday night, non-Sunday Night Baseball affair.