Red Sox Heap on the Humiliation for the Jays
Jays’ ace Roy Halladay wasn’t exactly firing darts at the Sox on Thursday.
We were able to make it down to two of the three Red Sox-Jays games this week, and I have to admit to some confusion. I thought TBS only showed Braves’ games, but after witnessing this series I’m pretty damn sure I was watching TBS (as in the “Total Bitch Slapping” network). How else do you qualify such a sound thrashing? But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let’s set the stage.
The Bosox came into the game comfortably in first place in the AL East, with half as many losses as the last-place Jays had accumulated. And of course, they had taken the first two games of this set by a combined 18-5 count. In going for the sweep, the Bosox’ opposing starter kept getting harder it seemed. First they were to take on Tomo Ohka, but he was moved up to face the music Wednesday, leaving Dustin McGowan to pitch the finale for the Jays. But that was switched and instead, Toronto sent its ace out in the form of Roy Halladay. Taking the third wasn’t going to be easy. Or maybe it was.
The Jays — in the midst of an eight-game losing skid (their worst in over five years) — desperately needed Doc to rebound from the shellacking he took in his previous outing. Saturday, Texas tagged Halladay for nine runs and a dozen hits (which tied the most he’s ever given up) in just 5 1/3 innings. If Toronto’s perennial Cy Young contender isn’t able to give the beleaguered bullpen a rest every five days, then this team is in real trouble.
Prior to that ugly start on the weekend, Halladay had been money, tossing quality starts in all six of his outings.
- John McDonald and Adam Lind were seen laughing together during the pre-game warmups. I’m surprised McDonald is still talking to the kid after Lind almost ended his career on Wednesday by undercutting him on a sliding play in which he didn’t call off the shortstop. Thursday, McDonald could clearly be seen mimicking going back on a fly ball and trying to explain to the rook, no doubt, that he can’t see anything behind him and has to count on the outfielder taking charge. I feel like I can’t say this enough: Lind is perhaps the best pure hitter the Jays have produced since Vernon Wells, yet he is a DH waiting to happen. Explain to me again why Toronto locked up Frank Thomas for two years?
- Speaking of Thomas, he was doing some signing before the game. A little girl ran over to him with a glove in her hand for him to autograph. The Big Hurt took one look at it and asked ‘what’s this thing, kid?’
- As part of the Cops for Cancer campaign, a police dude was getting his head shaved during the pre-game festivities. You should have seen the locks on this guy. He was a cop? Must have been in the undercover narc group or something. Scary stuff. Anyways, reliever Casey Janssen helped out with some shearing. I was shocked that Janssen didn’t cut the poor guy’s ear off or something. Jays’ pitchers don’t tend to have much control these days.
- Oh ya…you gotta love Sox fans. Some hottie walks up the aisle wearing a T-shirt that says “Love me, Ortiz me.” Uh, yeah. Sign us up for that.
- Halladay came in with a winning record (9-7) in his career against the Sox, but with a 4.46 ERA over 29 appearances (26 of them starts), he’s had some problems with Beantown. Of course, he’s been lights out this year, with a 1-0 mark and 2.93 ERA in his two starts against Boston.
- Lineup changes for the Sox: Kevin Youkilis is back after getting nailed by a pitch on Tuesday and sitting Wednesday with a sore leg, so he’s taken back the two-hole, shifting Coco Crisp back to seventh. With Tim Wakefield toeing the rubber, Doug Mirabelli is behind the dish and batting eighth, and Alex Cora is spelling Dustin Pedroia at second, a bit surprising as Pedroia has been on a tear, with hits in five straight games, including 9-for-14 over the past four. But Cora is swinging a mean stick himself, so what to do? More on Cora’s exploits later.
- The dude sitting beside me calls the beer guy over and pays for it with cash he just removed from a Led Zeppelin wallet. You know the type with the velcro? We all had them in 1983. Please tell me they don’t still make those things.
- The Jays bring out another choir for the national anthems. Someone please explain to me the obsession this organization has for marching dozens of people out onto the field before games. There were so friggin’ many people out there last night that they had to delay the first pitch. Halladay turned around and stared out towards the centre field fence, waiting for them to shut the door so he could get going. Of course, slamming the door on this losing skid proved more difficult.
- Youkilis wasted no time getting back into the groove, cracking a out-one double to right field. With You at second, Halladay and catcher Sal Fasano are having a bitch of time getting their signals straight. Halladay stares in for a long time and then shakes him off and gets Fasano to re-do the sequence. Finally, Fasano has to come out to the mound to discuss things. We’re two batters into the game and things are unravelling already. It gets worse when Halladay spins and fires the ball into centre field. That’s helpful. Youkilis scampers over to third and then scores on David Ortiz’s groundout.
- Wakefield struggles in the first inning, loading the bases with one one. But Thomas fanned and Troy Glaus was caught napping on first base to end the threat. What a horrible play. Of course, Glaus was not yet done with the ugliness.
- After the top of the second there is a promo for Shrek 3. They’re giving away these awesome little stuffed Shreks, but damn…they aren’t anywhere near my section.
- With one out in the bottom of the second, Aaron Hill strikes out and the ball goes to the screen. Mirabelli runs it down and throws him out. Wakefield’s personal catcher gets plenty of practice pulling this particular manoeuvre.
- It’s then Mike Lowell’s turn to flash the leather, stretching out to his left to spear a hot smash and throwing out the runner to end the second inning.
- Wakefield has settled down nicely after his first-inning struggles. He had come into this game with a 13-9, 3.86 mark in 42 career games (32 starts) against the Jays, however, he’s had his difficulties in the hitting-friendly confines of this park (5-3, 4.51 in 22 games, 15 of them starts). This year, he’s 1-1, 2.77 vs. Toronto.
- In the top of third, the Jays finally make a nice play. Cora slices one of the other way down the third base line that McDonald runs down (thankfully, Lind is not there to smash into him) and he makes an awesome play to hold Cora to a single.
- Youkilis then continues his mashing ways, smacking a liner up the middle that McDonald gets the tip of his glove on, but it scoots through for an RBI single. Ortiz’s gap shot on the very next pitch makes it 3-0 Sox.
- Boston adds another couple of singles for a fourth run and then Lowell comes up. Halladay gets ahead of him 0-2, but Lowell fights back and winds up launching a three-run homer. Bang. It’s 7-0 Boston, and — if you can believe this — fans start to leave. It’s the third inning.
- Damn, even the ineffectual Crisp is getting in on the fun, smoking a screaming double after Lowell’s long ball. That has the fans bellyaching for the bullpen to get going. Uh, hello? Have you guys seen the Jays’ pen? Besides, after Victor Zambrano couldn’t get out of the third on Tuesday and Ohka failed to go five Wednesday, there are some tired arms out there.
- As promised, more sparkling play from Glaus, who loses a Julio Lugo one-hopper in the lights in the top of the fourth. Something tells me he won’t be making appearances in the outfield any time soon. Lugo then steals second. Stealing a base with a 7-0 lead? Whatever. I’m surprised the Jays don’t throw at someone after that.
- Youkilis follows with another crushed ball, sending a double off the left field wall to make it 8-0.
- Wakefield has it on cruise control. After that skittish first, he doesn’t give up another hit until Vernon Wells leads off the seventh with a single. Glaus follows with a double play grounder to erase that mini threat. Like I said, great all around game for Glaus, who flashed all his deficiences on Thursday. The only thing he missed doing was striking out, a long time trait, but admittedly, something he’s been much better at during his quick start this season.
- The Jays have recently instituted a chili pepper race for the middle of the fourth inning akin to Milwaukee’s classic seventh-inning sausage race. It’s pretty lame. There’s only three of them, they run about 150 feet from the left field corner to third base and it’s totally staged as they are hamming it up and pretending to fall, etc. The best part Thursday was when some dude pulled a Randall Simon and reached over from the stands to drill one of them with his inflatable bat.
- All I can is thank Pink Floyd that Fasano’s handlebar ’stache is back. When he shaved it off because he became a Yankee it was a dark day for Hog-driving dirtbags everywhere.
- In the top of the sixth, Cora smacks a double. Did I mention he’s been killing the ball lately? Um, urine test, please. The dude is slugging .775. His career mark? Try .351.
- Youkilis hits a flare to second to end the sixth. It’s the first time the Jays have got him out this series. He was 3-for-3 with a hit by pitch Tuesday and was 3-for-3 Thursday before this at-bat. Give him four RBI in the past three games.
- Obviously I’m enjoying this beat down as a Sox fan, but not to sound like a jerk, honestly, I would prefer to see closer games than I’ve seen this week. The April series was far more entertaining. Again, not to be an ass, but there’s only so much enjoyment you can extract from totally pummeling your opponent.
- Manny Ramirez’s solid single in the top of the seventh is a good excuse to pull him and get Wily Mo Pena some action. Pena doesn’t get an at-bat, but I sure love watching him take BP. What a show he puts on. He does get to make a defensive play almost right away in the bottom of the seventh when Thomas rips a sinking liner that Pena scoops off the turf for the final out of the inning.
- In the eighth inning, the fans around me are talking about how good the Jays will be next year. Um, it’s May 10, people. Isn’t it a bit early to give up on this season? Of course, minutes later, those same people are overheard asking “who’s that?” when an ad appears on the Jumbotron for the upcoming Roger Waters concert. Uh, yeah. That rock you’re living under looks a bit big for me to help you.
- Hill fouls one back and McDonald has to dodge out of the way. Are the Jays trying to tell him something?
- It’s the top of the ninth and the Jays trail 8-0. That must mean it’s time for “closer” Jason Frasor to enter the game. Oh man.
- Eric Hinske pinch hits for Big Papi and the ensuing boos are the loudest the crowd has been all night. I already got on my soapbox about this last year, so no point in belabouring this particular issue.
- In the middle of the ninth the scoreboard prompts the crowd to “Make Some Noise.” Um, right. The reaction is tepid at best.
- Lyle Overbay smacked a pair of long balls Wednesday, indicating perhaps he was awakening from his funk. Uh, maybe not. He took an 0-for-3 and fanned twice last night. Toronto needs him flashing his 2006 form.
- How about Alex Rios? He goes 4-for-4 with a walk Wednesday and then takes and 0-for-4 Thursday, fanning once.
- So how many of you expected Wakefield to dominate Halladay? Wakefield threw seven shutout innings and rode a six-run third inning to an easy win. That third inning included 10 batters and six straight hits. The final carnage? 8-0 Sox. Three game totals for the sweep: 26-5 Boston. Wow.
- Wakefield, despite battling an illness, has enjoyed back-to-back lines of seven shutout innings with three hits allowed. He fanned five last night after managing just two in his last start and is now 4-3, 1.79 for the year. I love the fact that he walked only one — a season-low. If he isn’t walking anyone and not giving up hits, well…it doesn’t take a rocket scientist, does it? This is the Sox’ fourth starter, right? Now 40, what a great bounceback year it’s been for Wakefield. A rib cage injury caused him to struggle through a horrific 2006, but today, he is the AL’s ERA leader.
- That’s seven wins in the past eight games for Boston. Talk about teams heading in seriously opposite directions. For the Sox, it’s their first sweep in Toronto since July 2003.
- Halladay lasted just five innings, and was again shelled for 11 hits and eight runs — seven earned. In the last two starts, he’s given up 17 runs. Seventeen. He says he’s healthy, and judging by his stuff, the velocity of which is in his usual range, we don’t doubt it. But mechanical issues have him pitching all over the place and missing up in the zone way too much to survive.
- Halladay (4-2) hadn’t lost since August 31. Now he’s dropped two straight starts and remains stuck on 99 career wins.
- Leave it to Toronto to help get Manny going. He homered Wednesday in his favourite park and then smoked a pair of hits last night, his first multi-hit game since the weekend. He’s up to .250 now.
- How about Papi? After going hitless for three straight games, he’s driven in five runs in the past two games to reach 30 for the year. That puts him on pace to nearly duplicate his career high set in 2005.
- How much did Lowell enjoy his soujourn to the Northlands? He homered in every game of the series — the first time he’s gone yard in three straight games in four years. Boston was ready to deal him this winter and now he’s headed for a career-high 35 homers.
- Struggling Lugo scored a run in each of the last two games, the first time he’s scored in consecutive games since mid-April. Right now, his woes are lost in the bonanza of runs around him, but Lugo needs to pick things up out of the leadoff spot.
- Hideki Okajima completely had the Jays baffled in a perfect eighth inning appearance. Of course, he’s completely baffled the entire league so far, hence an ERA hovering just over half a run per game and 21 Ks in 17 IP. I guess he’s not just “that other Japanese pitcher” the Sox signed anymore.
- Boston is getting offensive contributions up and down the lineup currently. Last night, every starter except Mirabelli had at least one hit and seven different players scored runs. It’s all about balance, baby.
- Of course, the Red Sox are getting unbelievable pitching as well. In the last six games, they have not surrendered over three runs once. With Wakefield earning his fourth win, he joins Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Curt Schilling with at least that many wins. No other team in baseball has a quartet of four or more game winners already.
- The Jays’ last win came on April 30, when Halladay beat the Rangers. With nine straight losses, they have now matched their longest skid since the beginning of May 2002. I think after GM J.P. Ricciardi’s recent revelations about B.J. Ryan’s injury, his job has to be less than secure, but it’s definitely time to add manager John Gibbons to the death watch list.
- Speaking of Ryan, the bad news day continued as he underwent Tommy John surgery yesterday, ending his 2007 season. He may not be right until the All-Star break 2008 or later. Of course, J.P. saw this coming back in spring, didn’t he? And remind me what he did to prepare himself for this eventuality? Oh right…he let Francisco Rosario go.
- During this losing streak, the Jays have been outscored 72-27. There’s something symmetrical about that, isn’t there? I doubt they’re extracting any consolation from that, however.
- Are you wondering what the team record for consecutive losses is? That’s a reasonable question with the streak perilously close to double digits. The Jays dropped 12 in a row back in 1981. Next up is a three-game set at the Rogers Centre against Tampa Bay. It’s the battle for last in the AL East and if the Jays get swept by the Rays, they don’t deserve to get out of the cellar.
- On the bright side, this is the first time the Jays have been shut out this year. I think that’s the bright side, isn’t it?