- Last night I sat in the 200 level for the first time in a couple years. Normally, I sit in the 500 section, which is perfectly fine by me. To be honest, I actually prefer sitting high up rather than being constricted to the closed confines of the second deck. For instance, I was physically much closer to the action last night, but I felt as if was actually much more emotionally and mentally removed from it. Rather than being out in the open, taking in the sun from the open dome while being free to view the entire stadium, I felt confined to an area in which I felt like I could only relate to those in my immediate vicinity. Additionally - and perhaps this is only a personal opinion - I find that the behaviour of the fans differs substantially from section to section. Unlike the rowdy, almost savage-like behaviour normally found in the upper level (which is the case in most stadiums, more than likely), the fans in the second level were much more reserved. My perception is probably skewed because of the specific section I happened to find myself in, but it's something I've noticed throughout the years. It's certainly not a bad thing, but yesterday I found myself yearning to be in the upper level like in prior games. Well, actually I would have gladly sat in the first level, and I hope that will be the case sometime during the future this season.
The amount of fans in attendance seemed to be noticeably smaller than in the past few times I attended the Rogers Centre. More than anything else, that's likely a result of the fact that the Devil Rays were in town. I don't find them to be much less exciting to watch than most other teams, but they certainly aren't a big draw to non-Floridians (and some would argue that they're not much of a draw to Floridians, either). Actually, Jonny Gomes, perhaps the team's most productive player, was taunted the entire night by last night's fans. In fact, at one point, some oaf threw a baseball in his general direction.
- Roy Halladay, as usual, was great last night. He almost went the distance for the third time this season, but ultimately threw for 8.2 innings on his way to an easy victory. In addition, his command was superb, as he allowed zero walks and struck out seven. His strikeout total on the season is rather low, especially for someone of his calibre, so it was a good sign that he amassed that many. However, some pitchers other than Halladay have been successful this season despite rather unspectacular strikeout totals. Justin Verlander, for example, only has 34 strikeouts in 60 innings, but he's been nothing short of exceptional thus far. Strikeout rates have always been a useful indicator of success, and tend to correlate well with quality production. On the other hand, so do K/BB rates. I think that as long as pitchers manage to keep their walk total low, they can withstand the effects of a low strikeout rate. The past two seasons, interestingly, Halladay has managed to post significantly better numbers than his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) totals would suggest. FIP is usually a good indicator of how well a pitcher has actually played, but for one reason or another Halladay has managed to outperform those projections.
- B.J. Ryan's pupularity has soared since the season began. When he entered the game to relieve Halladay in the ninth inning, the crowd roared in approval, both for what Halladay had accomplished and in support of Ryan's presence. Obviously, he has been nothing short of amazing this season. For one, he's allowed nine hits in 21.1 innings pitched, which suffice to say is an otherworldly total. Keeping in mind that the closer's impact is highly overrated, the Blue Jays haven't had a truly dependable ninth-inning option since perhaps the early '90s. For comparison's sake, consider some of the closers from the past few years: Miguel Batista, Jason Frasor, Aquilino Lopez, and the list goes on.
- Some quick hits:
- John McDonald played well last night in Russ Adams' stead. I think they'd pair well together as platoon partners, but it's evident that a permanent replacement is in order unless Adams noticeably improved both his offensive and, more importantly, his defensive performance.
- Gregg Zaun should be in the lineup almost everyday. He hits well against both left-handed and right-handed pitchers and should only be out of the lineup when his aging body requires a day off. He should also inquire about possibly re-shooting his player profile photo, which almost always elicits an assortment of hearty guffaws and faint chuckles from the crowd.
- Alex Rios took a walk last night, only his eighth of the season. He's managed to keep up his torrid pace to an extent, though his batting average has begun to slip slightly. The fact that he has more home runs than walks, however, is a very troubling sign.
- Mark Hendrickson pitched much more poorly than his pitching line suggests. I expect his stats to regress mightily as the season progresses.
- I love watching Bengie Molina run. It never gets old.
AP PHOTO/CP, Frank Gunn