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Thursday's Three Things: Rajai Davis, Esmil Rogers, and Kevin Pillar

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sport

I have been taking a bit of time off from writing but I return for a post this Thursday afternoon because I do love alliterative titles. Theoretically, this Thursday's Three Things (if you're reading this out loud there is a high probability your monitor has been sprayed with spittle) can be something that can be a recurring piece here, but we'll see. Lengthy introductions is not one of the three things, so let's move on.

Thing 1: Rajai Davis's "Little League home run"

You have probably seen the highlights of Rajai Davis's sprint around the diamond from Wednesday night's game. If you haven't, Grant Brisbee gives us this GIF:


via Hot Corner (note: file name is worstinsidetheparkHRever.gif)

To set up the situation, the game was tied 0-0 in the bottom of the third. Davis hit a Jon Lester pitch right back at him. Lester than screws up a soft toss to first, allowing Davis to reach third, then Shane Victorino's bad throw allow him to come home. What could've been an inning-ending ground out made the score 1-0 in the Blue Jays' favour. I was at the game, and that was a fantastic play to watch live, from a bird's eye view (I was siting in the 500-level). I was the one waving my arm frantically as if I was one of the base coaches.

Davis had to slow down at first and third, so it took him 17.91 seconds to complete the circuit. For comparison, according to Tater Trot Tracker, the fastest inside-the-park homer this season was completed by Angel Pagan, who ran around the bases in 14.73 seconds. The fastest non-inside-the-park homer came courtesy of Adam Rosales, who sprinted around at 16.24 seconds.

Right after that play, I wondered how often a play like that--a single with nobody on that results in a go-ahead run--has happened. Not surprisingly, it hasn't happened very often. Since 1977, the year the Blue Jays were born, this has only happened 12 times with 11 teams. Interestingly the Toronto Blue Jays had pulled this off twice. The last time coming on June 16, 1988 when Tony Fernandez led off the game against the Tigers with a bunt.

I went to the Toronto Star archives to read more about the play. Neil MacCarl recapped the events in the next day's edition as follows:

Fernandez beat out a bunt single on the first pitch of the game from Jack Morris, and before the dust had settled, he had circled the bases. Toma [sic] Brookens fielded the ball and threw wide of first for an error. Right fielder Chet Lemon bobbled the ball for another error, then threw wildly to third, letting Fernandez score.

Since it was not mentioned, Tom Brookens (there was a typo in the article) was the third baseman--I hope there were chants of "BRROOOOOOOKKKKKEEENNNNN" at Tigers Stadium after that play. The play happened against Jack Morris, who actually had pretty much the exact thing happen to him in 1985, with the Mariners' Jack Perconte at bat. The Blue Jays' colour commentator is the only pitcher to have this happen to him twice since 1977. In another play, Jason McDonald actually got a walk-off single with no one on base back in 1997.

Cool stuff.

Thing 2: The Blue Jays won on Esmil Rogers' birthday

On Wednesday, Esmil Rogers became the 15th pitcher in franchise history to make a start on his birthday (David Wells and Brandon Morrow did it twice each). With the club winning the game on Brett Lawrie's walkoff, the Blue Jays' franchise record in games where their starting pitcher was a birthday boy improved to 8-9.

Brandon Lyon, who started on his birthday in 2001, had the worst game of the lot, giving up six runs, seven hits, and three walks while striking out none in 2.1 innings of work. David Wells in 2000 didn't do much better, giving up six runs on ten hits in 3.1 innings. However, in his first stint with the Jays in 1991, Wells completed seven shut-out innings, giving up just two hits while walking four and striking out six. No Blue Jay has ever completed a game on their birthday. The last pitcher to do that was C.C. Sabathia in 2011, and our friend Jack Morris did the same in 1987.

Looking at birthdates, Drew Hutchison (August 22) and Thad Weber (September 28) have a chance to start on their birthdays this year.

Thing 3: Kevin Pillar's number

When Kevin Pillar stepped onto the field wearing #22 last night, he became the third Blue Jay to wear a recycled number in 2013 with Henry Blanco previously wearing it. It also marked the first time in franchise history that the number 22 had been re-issued mid-season. The other two pairs of shared numbers were Edgar Gonzalez-Sean Nolin (#35), and Aaron Laffey-Mickey Storey (#37). Last season, the Blue Jays had eight pairs of re-issued numbers.

Pillar became the 14th Blue Jay and the 10th non-pitcher to wear #22. Of course, the best Blue Jay to wear the number (and the one who sported it for the longest time) was lefty Jimmy Key, who had it on his back from 1984-1992, almost his entire tenure in Toronto (he switched from #27 in the middle of his rookie season). Brandon League and Charlie O'Brien were also notable #22's. Chad Mottola, Pillar's batting coach, briefly wore #22 in his first stint with the Jays.