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Yunel Escobar Hits Walk Off Home Run, Jays Beat A's

A's 6 Blue Jays 7 (10 innings)

This is likely going to be shorter than it should be, because it is late and, well, I had a beer or two.

Let me say, one more time, that I am in jaw dropping awe of Alex Anthopoulos for trading Alex Gonzalez and getting Yunel Escobar in return. How you could exchange a 33 year old, journeyman short stop for 27 year old, gifted shortstop, with great range and a .289/.364/.398 career batting line. But I'm so glad he did. Yunel hit the 10th inning 2 run homer to give us the win tonight.

The game didn't start out great for the Jays. Jo-Jo Reyes first regular season start for the Jays didn't go as planned. He only lasted 3.1 innings, giving up 9 hits, a walk and 5 earned runs. It really wasn't the Reyes we saw this spring. That Reyes was pounding the bottom of the strike zone, getting strikeouts and ground balls. This Reyes was missing up in the strike zone, giving up singles and doubles. 

That's not to say he didn't get a little bit unlucky. There were a couple of hits that just barely stayed fair inside the third base line, a couple weak grounders that somehow found a way in between infielders, a strike zone that wasn't terribly consistent and double to Travis Snider, which Snider made a perfect throw to Aaron Hill, only to have the ball come out of Hill's glove as he made the tag. A little luck on Reyes side and he might have only given up 2 or 3 runs. But he wasn't good. For him to be effective, he has to pitch like he did all spring, hitting the bottom of the strike zone consistently, getting ground balls and strike outs. Reyes will get a couple more chances to show what he can do, but unless they go much better than today's game, I don't think he'll be with the team much longer than that.

Our bullpen was terrific again, going 6.2 innings, giving up just 4 hits and 1 run, a solo homer off Jason Frasor that almost won the game for the A's. Carlos Villanueava, in particular, gave the Jays a chance to come back into the game, pitching 2.2 innings, allowing no hits and 2 walks, while striking out 3. He stopped Oakland's momentum and gave us a chance to come back. David Purcey pitched a great inning, making me feel bad for all the nasty things I said about him this spring. He got 2 strikeouts in a perfect inning of work. If he pitches like that, he belongs on the team. Jon Rauch and Shawn Camp each pitched a scoreless inning as well.

Our offense did a great job, coming from behind twice. Mid way through the fourth we were down by 5 but we got a run in the bottom of the fourth and 4 in the bottom of the 6th to tie things up. The 4 run 6th was helped along by a Kevin Kouzmanoff error at third and another play where Kouzmanoff didn't get an error, though I would love to hear the scorer's reasoning. A popup, foul near the wall, close to third, Kevin made the catch but then threw the ball into the ground about 10 feet in front of him, allowing Rajai Davis to score from third and Escobar to move from first to second. It was scored a sac fly. A roughly 100 foot sac fly.

We had lots of offensive heros. Davis was 2 for 5, scoring twice. Escobar was 3 for 5, 3 runs and 2 RBI, with the walk off home run. Lind was 2 for 4. Aaron Hill hit the ball hard each time up but was only 1 for 4 with a run and 2 RBI. Edwin pounded a double, driving in a run. O fors go to Rivera, who walked and scored, Snider, who had an RBI and Molina. 

Jays of the Day? Escobar gets a big .703 WPA making him the big Jay of the Day. Also getting JoD status are Davis (.116), Rauch (.143) Camp (.110) and Edwin (.096). I'm also going to give Villanueva a JoD for his 2.2 shutout innings that allowed the Jays back into the game. Suckage numbers go to Reyes (-.290), Frasor (-.235), Nix (-.114( and Molina (-.105).

I'd also like to give a JoD to John Farrell for not having Escobar bunt in the 10th inning with Davis on and down by a run. If you wonder why I don't like the bunt, you got a great example tonight. A lot of managers, with the tying run at 1st in the bottom of the 10th would have called for the bunt there. Me? I prefer the game winning home run. 

You have to love a team that can come from behind twice in one game, even without the help of their best player. Jose Bautista is a new daddy, his little girl was born today.