Live Major League Baseball, or at least something vaguely like it, was broadcast on SportsNet for the first time in four months. The second of five intra-squad games pitting team Bo against team Grich. The position players on each side were drafted by captains Bo Bichette and Randal Grichuk, while the pitching staff was managed by Pete Walker to keep the starters on their schedules. This was game two of the five game intra-squad series. The game was scheduled to last five innings, although the fifth set of at bats for both teams was cut off early. Team Bo took the win, moving to 2-0 in the series. Bichette and Grichuk apparently have some money riding on the outcome of the series to make things a little more interesting, but it still wasn’t actually a game. Rather than walking through it, I’ll just highlight a few of the interesting performances:
- Jacob Waguespack got the start for Grichuk’s home squad, and it was a rough one. Bo Bichette set the tone by taking the first pitch, a hanging curveball, into the second deck. Waguespack gave up four more runs that inning before being mercy-ruled (it was 6 runs when I played little league, but times change), then worked a shaky but scoreless second. Of 11 batters Waguespack faced, he gave up four hits including two home runs, walked two, and hit one while striking out two. He threw some nice breaking balls and change ups, but his command was completely absent.
- The other starter, Matt Shoemaker, fared better. His final line (4.2IP, 6H, 4ER, 2BB, 6K, 1HP) is ugly, but outside a three batter stretch in the fourth where he gave up a walk and back to back homers, he was mostly in control. His pitches and command all looked close to season ready. The game was called with two out and one on in the fifth, so he gets the complete game but not the win. I’m hoping that the short season suits him and he has a strong year.
- Ken Giles got the third, and looked pretty dominant. He got a pop out in foul territory inside first base, a groundout, and the K’d Hernandez. It’d help the Jays a lot of Giles came out of the gate hot and either helped make a run or at least upped his trade value before the August 31 deadline.
- Rafael Dolis, an import from the Hanshin Tigers (and the Cubs before that) came in to work the fourth for Team Grich. He walked two but got a popup and was helped out by a slick double play turned by Biggio, Espinal, and Guerrero. He struggled to command his fastball (this was a theme for most of the pitchers), but his stuff looked pretty good to me.
- Sam Gaviglio got the first two batters he faced but then walked Gurriel (not usually an easy thing to do) and allowed him to score on back to back singles. The inning was called at that point, as Gaviglio had apparently hit his pitch count.
- Bo Bichette had a good night at the dish, hitting a bomb to open the game and following it up with a walk and a hard groundout.
- Lourdes Gurriel jr hit a line drive single and took a walk while popping out once..
- Teoscar Hernandez swung right through a few fastballs and K’d twice, but did manage a single.
- Reece McGuire hit a grand slam high off the right field foul pole.
- Jordan Groshans struck out and grounded into a double play. He also bobbled a couple balls at third. It’s unsurprising that a 20 year old with all of a month of A ball under his belt would look a little shaky playing against more or less major league competition.
- Cavan Biggio worked walk (although it sure looked like he went around on ball four) and initiated a nice double play.
- Vladimir Guerrero jr hit two ground balls (one of which got through for a single) and a short fly out. He looked smooth at first, though, making a nice diving grab and stretching for a couple throws. He also received pick-off throws pretty well. I really hope the move to first works out well and allows him to focus on his hitting.
- Randal Grichuk hit two singles.
- Andy Burns and Anthony Alford hit back to back home runs. Alford looked good, and in the booth Shulman and Wilner were talking about him making the roster as a designated pinch runner for extra innings. I hope he get some kind of chance, he’s an easy guy to root for.
It was kind of a weird viewing experience. The stands were empty, but there was piped in crowd noise that sort of reacted to the action on the field. It reminded me of playing MLB The Show. Tejada and Gurriel wore masks on the field, and all of the coaches and players watching were supposed to wear theirs as well (looking at you, Austin Martin). Still, when they weren’t ending innings early because the pitcher was tired or having guys play catch behind the outfielders, you could almost pretend it was a spring training game. At this point, I’m desperate enough that I’ll make due with whatever they give me. Anything that strikes a chord of normalcy is welcome these days, and if you didn’t pay too much attention to the details this game did the trick.
The Jays play another scrimmage tomorrow evening at 6:30 Eastern. It’ll be broadcast on SportsNet East, Ontario, West, and Pacific.