Well, yesterday's game (and the series against the Twins in general) didn't exactly go as planned. Ricky Romero had trouble finding the plate and the Jays were lucky even to be in it towards the end, and, though they did manage to pull almost all the way back, they came up just short. Well, as the old saying goes, the beauty of baseball is that you can get back on the horse, so, in the words of Kevin Millar (not Pillar), Sea Bass!
Anyway, tonight's contest sees the Jays return home to take on the Tampa Bay Rays, who are fresh off a series loss to AL East rival Baltimore. The division is quite close -- the Jays are in fourth place but just three games behind the Orioles, two games behind the Rays, and half a game back from the Yankees.
Brandon Morrow (4-1, 2.27) looks to get the Jays back to their winning ways tonight. After two masterful starts, Morrrow had a bit of trouble with control his last time out, though he did strike out 10 batters so I guess we can forgive him. Fun with small samples: so far this season, Morrow's held opposing batters to .130 / .197 / .247 line this season (partially on the strength of a .125 BABIP) with runners on base en route to a 88% strand-rate. Over his past three starts, Morrow has rediscovered the strikeout (27 K over 21 IP) but may also be slipping into some old habits (just two groundballs in his last start). If Brandon can combine the penchant for inducing worm-burners that he showed earlier this year with the knack for making hitters' knees buckle that he's shown over the past several seasons, the best may be yet to come. On the other hand, Brandon's mean GameScore this season is 63 so it's not exactly like he hasn't been pretty brilliant already.
Opposing Morrow (really more analogous to Morrow than opposing, since this the Junior, rather than the Senior, Circuit) will be starboard-sider Jeff Niemann (2-3, 3.48). Niemann has started 2012 fairly well on the strength of a nice jump in K-rate (8.0 K/9 so far in 2012, 6.8 K/9 career). He's apparently started throwing a cutter this season and seems to be getting nice results with it so far. After two dreadful offensive showings against P.J. Walters and Scott Diamond (to be fair, the Jays had several hard-hit balls yesterday that just didn't seem to find holes), hopefully the Jays' bats wake up this evening and they get to the former fourth overall pick early.
This evening's title comes courtesy of Gainesville, Florida's Hot Water Music -- yesterday's game sure drove me to drink . . . hopefully we can enjoy tonight's game without chemical assistance.
No lineups yet, if someone could post them, I'd be ever so grateful . . .
As always, don't forget the ground rules: