A solid day for the Blue Jays this afternoon with a number of pitchers looking solid against the Yankees including Daniel Norris, Steve Delabar, Aaron Loup and Kyle Drabek. A lot of the regular hitters had the day off but Caleb Gindl continued impressing this spring in his attempts to force his way onto the big league squad.
Daniel Norris started the game for the Blue Jays with some poorly located fastballs and a few butchered off-speed pitches before getting on track and retiring the side in order. Despite not getting many of his fastballs down, the lefty was able to record three ground ball outs likely thanks to hitting 95 mph with his heater regardless of where it was located.
Russell Martin led off the bottom half of the first with a double off the left field wall against an Esmil Rogers fastball. Devon Travis followed with an ugly at-bat that ended in a strikeout continuing his inconsistent spring at the plate thus far. Josh Donaldson hit a double to left to bring Martin around third but Brett Gardner easily threw the Canadian out at home by about six feet. Dayan Viciedo was up next and had a rough at-bat that also ended in a Rogers' strikeout.
The second inning started with Alex Rodriguez being jeered heavily by the Dunedin crowd which made me feel slightly bad for the guy. I certainly didn't shed a tear when Norris carved him up on three pitches including a nasty hook though. The Jays southpaw continued the day's trend of inconsistent location and off-speed stuff giving up a single to Chris Young. The changeup seemed to be working for young Norris, but the curveball was often coming out of his hand extremely loopy and out of the zone. A hanging off-speed pitch was hammered to centre field by some Yankees bench player and Dalton Pompey tracked it down extremely well and made a fantastic diving catch to bail out his starter. Another fly ball to the young Canadian outfielder ended the top half of the inning, with Norris still not looking that impressive.
Caleb Gindl hit a double in the second...hmmm maybe he could challenge for one of the last spots on the team. Kevin Pillar followed with a fly ball out to left, surely starting to feel a small amount of pressure from the guy that was staring at him from second base.
Norris started the third with a strikeout on a high curveball before giving up a double to minor league hero Cole Figueroa. About thirty minutes after most people noticed it, Buck finally alluded to a small amount of blood on the back of Norris' pants which was a small cut or blister on the top of his thumb suffered likely suffered during the first inning. A slow curveball made Brett Gardner look foolish to end the inning, as the Yankees outfielder had already completed nearly his full swing before the ball even made it to home plate.
The Toronto lefty came out for another inning in the fourth with A-Rod finally making his mark against him with a single off the right field wall. After walking Chris Young, Pete Walker took out Norris brining his final line to 3.1 IP with three hits, four strikeouts, and the one walk. Overall the 21-year-old looked fairly good albeit inconsistent with his command and breaking stuff. He certainly hasn't made an indefensible claim for the final rotation spot, but when his only competition is Marco Estrada then maybe he doesn't have to. Gregory Infante came in and looked bad.
Norris joined the guys in the booth after the start and admitted he was slightly disappointed with his inconsistency as well as confirming that he had a blister on his thumb. The interview started humorously with Buck congratulating Daniel on looking sharp, with the pitcher saying he was anything but. If he isn't already your favourite Blue Jay, then he should take that crown pretty soon.
Steve Delabar pitched a solid fifth inning continuing his form reminiscent of 2013 rather than 2014, all but assuring himself of another trip north with the 2015 Opening Day roster. The bottom half saw Kevin Pillar and Ryan Goins help load the bases and a nice baserunning play by Goins to avoid a tag by A-Rod extended the inning but eventually a force out at third by Rodriguez killed the rally before any runs were scored.
Aaron Loup got three extremely quick outs in the sixth to keep the score deadlocked at zeroes. The first run was scored in the bottom half when MVP Caleb Gindl drove home Steve Tolleson with a double forcing even the most cynical of spring trainings fans to take notice of his hot streak. The seventh saw Loup get another out before Kyle Drabek came in and finished the inning cleanly. The righty came back out for the eighth showing a pretty good fastball and curveball (and maybe a changeup as well) recording a couple of strikeouts.
Anthony Alford got an at-bat late in the game showing a good eye at the plate before going down on a bad strikeout call with a full count. Chad Jenkins came in to close out the game in the ninth but looked pretty poor missing all his spots. Regardless, the Yankees minor leaguers were still offering at his sinkers in the dirt on check swings according to the umpire which shockingly incensed Joe Girardi in the bottom of the ninth of a March 14th game. Some drama ended the contest as the Yankees tried to score the tying run after Jonathan Diaz bobbled a ground ball but the Blue Jays infielder was able to get the throw home in time to get the third and final out.
Overall the Blue Jays had a solid day and the important players stat lines looked like this:
- Russell Martin was 1-2 with a strikeout
- Devon Travis was 0-3 with a strikeout
- Josh Donaldson was 1-3 with a strikeout
- Dayan Viciedo was 2-4 with a strikeout
- Justin Smoak was 0-3 with a strikeout
- Dalton Pompey was 0-2 without a strikeout
- Kevin Pillar and Ryan Goins were both 1-2