The Happy Recap
In an excruciating nail-biter, a lackluster Jays offense and a fine Gustavo Chacin performance was just enough to beat Daisuke Matsuzaka and the Boston Red Sox.
Chacin was only okay in his first two starts, but he was really quite good today. In 6 2/3 innings, he gave up only 1 run, on a towering, no doubt, dead-center HR by Wily Mo Pena, 6 hits, and no walks, while striking out 3. He used the inside corner quite well, moved the ball around, and his slider induced lots of swinging strikes on hitters counts. He left in the 7th for Casey Janssen.
It was lucky for the Jays that Chacin was as sharp as he was, because the Jays' offense was terrible. They managed only 3 hits throughout the game, and although they had 3 walks, they didn't really show good plate discipline - they just took advantage of one inning in which Daisuke Matsuzaka had control problems. In the 4th, Vernon Wells reached 1st on an infield single and Frank Thomas walked. Lyle Overbay hit a sharp groundball that looked like a double play, but it got past Julio Lugo and into left field, scoring Vernon. Aaron Hill worked a walk, and Greg Zaun followed up with a bases-loaded walk to put the Jays in front.
At other times in the game though, the Jays were flailing. Vernon Wells was unable to lay off the high fastball, the Hurt struck out twice, and Lind and Clayton struck out three times. In fact, other than Aaron Hill, every Blue Jay hitter K'ed at least once. Now, striking out is not necessarily a bad thing, but in this case, it showed over-agressiveness, and while the three walks were nice, the fact that they all came in the same inning should suggest something.
Matsuzaka, Hideki Okajima, and Joel Pineiro completely shut down the Jays after the 4th, and so it was up to Chacin and the Jays bullpen to protect the fragile lead. Chacin gave way to Janssen in the 7th, and Tek got out of the 7th on one pitch, but ran into trouble in the 8th. He walked JD Drew to lead off the inning and got behind Lugo as well. He battled back and, on 3-2, with Drew running on the pitch, Lugo scorched a line drive that was snagged by Smith for a double play. However, with the bases now empty, Coco Crisp singled through the middle to bring up Ortiz, representing the go-ahead run.
At that point, I think the whole stadium expected Gibbons to go to the lefty Scott Downs for Ortiz, while keeping Frasor for the 9th. But Gibbons elected to bring in Frasor, and Frasor got Ortiz without much fuss. Frasor was nifty again in the 9th - after Wells snagged a well-hit Manny long line drive, Frasor finished the Sox on two weak groundouts to Royce Clayton. Game!
Was it pretty? Not in the least, but it got done, and at the end of the day, Gustavo Chacin (now 6-0 lifetime against the Sox!) beat Daisuke Matsuzaka, and you know what? He totally deserved it.
Clayton Watch : Royce had a bad day at the plate, going 0-3 with 3 Ks. But he was actually even worse than that. In a moment for which the Clayton Watch was invented, Royce came up in the 4th with the bases loaded and one out. Dice-K had just walked Greg Zaun to score a run, and many of the pitches to Zaun had not been close. You'd think, singles hitter up, pitcher has walked 3 already this inning, time to take a few pitches, right? Clayton swung at a couple of eye-level pitches and was sent packing. The sad thing was, I actually didn't mind at the time, because I was half-expecting a double play.
Now, this is not entirely fair to Royce, he had a bad day against a very good pitcher and most of the Jays were almost, if not as bad. But the bottom line is that as unappetizing as Clayton is in the 9 hole, it's even worse in the 8 hole. I sort of like the Smith-McDonald platoon as an okay 3B stopgap, but Royce is more exposed now than ever. I mean, the Red Sox had Wily Mo Pena batting 8th, and he was 2-3 with about a 470 ft homerun. Not that there's much we can do about it, but that doesn't make it any more fun.
Jays of the Day
Gustavo Chacin , who turned in a gutsy and sharp performance. Greg Zaun called a wonderful game and did well to draw the walk that turned out to be the winning RBI. Jason Frasor showed no fear against Ortiz and Manny and closed out the game nicely (4 outs, 8 pitches).
Well done, fellas!