Casey on the Mound
Aaron Rowand’s whiff with the bases loaded was a pivotal moment.
Well, that wasn’t much of a nailbiter. I expected Saturday evening’s Jays-Phils bout to be full of fireworks as each nation celebrates its respective birthdays. Well, the Phils’ pyrotechnics must have been stopped at customs (you are, after all, bugging us slack-off Canadians to crack down on those borders), while the Jays had plenty of their own in an easy 8-1 shelling.
As promised, I kept a close eye on Casey Janssen tonight, and he’s clearly shaken his funk. He got into some serious trouble in the first, though. And without a big strikeout of Aaron Rowand with the bases juiced, Janssen’s night could have gone a bit more like his counterpart Adam Bernero’s did. It took him 32 pitches to get through that tough first, but Janssen was in cruise control after that.
He’s mostly a fastball pitcher, ranging from 86 to 91 mph, but seems to pitch most comfortably and effectively at 89 mph. Unfortunately, that leaves just a 4-to-5 mph spread between his fastball and changeup. But Janssen employed a liberal amount of north-south movement on his heater to change the batters’ eyes and that was very effective, on Saturday at least. He mixed in the occasional curve (ranging 74 to 79 mph) — which he can throw for strikes, and a slider that ranged from 83 to 86 mph. I’d like to see Janssen lean more on off-speed stuff, especially his breaking ball. I believe that would really complement his fastball.
All told, it was an impressive outing for the rook. Six shutout innings with just five hits and two walks allowed against three strikeouts. He threw 66 strikes and 41 balls, and did a very good job of starting the Phils off with strikes. Janssen is now 6-6 for the season.
Don’t look now, but the Jays have actually won four straight for the first time this season. And Eric Hinske, in perhaps the biggest shock of the night, was batting leadoff, a first in his professional career. Imagine our surprise when we saw a man who doesn’t exactly look like he’s built for speed (and in fact, more resembles someone who rather enjoys partaking in this) batting at the top of a lineup of men under the age of 55. So what does he do? Bounces a tape-measure homer off the restaurant window in straight away centre (a gargantuan shot) and ends the game with an airborne, full out stretch diving catch in right field. Apparently, someone has a bit of a Superman complex these days.