What a game! After a dramatic 9th inning comeback in which the Jays tied the score by scoring two runs on Mariano Rivera but couldn't win the game, Travis Snider doubled home Edwin Encarnacion from first base with 2 outs in the 10th inning. Wow. After a rough 4-game series in Boston and a pretty bad first 8 innings of this one, I'm hoping the conclusion can shake the Jays up a bit.
On the Mound:
Kyle Drabek has been walking too many all season, but he had enough strikeouts, grounders, and luck to get away with it until today. Drabek gave away 4 free passes (and one hit-by-pitch) and proved unable to overcome that today. On the other hand, Drabek did show good stuff and at times wasn't missing the strike zone by much. It comes at a bad time given the team's recent skid, but I think you have to give Drabek a pass for now and be patient while he figures out how to get ahead of batters and not to put runners on base. Still, the 19/15 K/BB ratio he is currently sporting is anything but pretty and, while it'd be great to see a switch just flip sometime soon, it's more likely that it'll be a process.
At the Plate:
For the first 8 innings, It was an improvement over prior games, but that's not saying much. Jose Bautista hit a home run in the first, and Edwin Encarnacion had a very nice game at the plate. The Jays did take a lot of walks, which was good, but one wonders whether that says more about A.J. Burnett's poor control than the Jays' fine plate discipline. Aaron Hill singled and stole second but strained his hamstring sliding headfirst into second and is day-to-day. It doesn't sound like such a bad injury, but substituting McDonald for Hill doesn't really help an already-depleted Jays' lineup, though more on that in a moment.
It was down 5-3, with Mariano Rivera on the mound, that everything came alive for the Jays. Yunel Escobar, who had been having an awful game at the plate, led off. Rivera missed his spot and got too much of the plate and Escobar made him pay by smashing one over centerfielder Curtis Granderson's head to put the tying run at the plate. Travis Snider grounded out on the first pitch, but Rivera wanted no piece of Jose Bautista. Rivera was so dedicated to keeping the ball off the plate that he threw ball four away, allowing Escobar, who had moved to third on Snider's groundout, to score. Adam Lind came to the plate against one of the toughest all-time pitchers against lefties. Rivera got Lind down 0-2 but Lind hung in there and punched a line-drive into right-center to put the Jays within one with the tying run at third. John Farrell called the squeeze and McDonald, who entered the game for Aaron Hill, managed to get the ball down in a perfectly-executed play. Jose Molina loaded the bases with a groundball single to give the Jays a great chance to walk off, but Corey Patterson grounded into a double play to end the threat.
In the 10th, Edwin Encarnacion led off with a ground ball single against Ivan Nova. Both Jayson Nix and Yunel Escobar hit the ball hard, but both were pulled down by Yankee outfielders out near the wall, bringing up Travis Snider. Snider at that point was 0-5 with three strikeouts, including one where he angrily smashed his bat over his knee after the fact - it was just one of those days. That is, until the 10th, when he drove a low fastball into the right-centerfield gap and it one hopped the wall, giving Edwin Encarnacion time to come all the way around from first. Snider looked as relieved as happy, and awesome walkoff-ness ensued. Go Jays!
From the Pen:
Jason Frasor took over for Drabek in the 6th and bailed him out, but gave up a solo home run to Curtis Granderson in the 7th. Marc Rzepczynski finished that inning by getting Robinson Cano, and looked like a very credible lefty reliever in doing so. Carlos Villanueva pitched a good 8th, and Shawn Camp had a very nice 9th with three quick groundball outs. Jon Rauch pitched the 10th and worked around a couple of walks - not the best inning but he got it done. On the whole, it was another solid performance from the bullpen - 4 2/3 innings and just 1 run, though 3 walks to just one strikeout isn't the best.
In the Field:
Adam Lind continues to do a great job at first - he had a couple of nifty plays. Jose Molina has a cannon - he threw out Brett Gardner trying to steal and it was very impressive. I can't remember being as fond of a backup catcher as I am of Molina.
Jays of the Day:
Encarnacion, Lind (an awesome at-bat against Rivera in the 9th), McDonald, Bautista, Snider. Rauch also has the WPA for it but I'm not giving it to a reliever for walking two guys in the 10th inning, so we'll say honourable mention and of course he gets the win.
Tomorrow Brett Cecil pitches for the Jays and hopes to build on an encouraging outing last time out, while Bartolo Colon pitches for the Yankees.
Title from the Josh Rouse song "Rise" off his record 1972. The record is sort of just so-so, but the song is sublime.