Series Preview in Blog: Toronto Blue Jays (Round 2)

<div style=”text-align:center;font-family:times new roman;”><span style=”font-size:130%;”><span style=”font-weight:bold;”>Minnesota Twins (38-35) v. Toronto Blue Jays (37-37)</span></span><br /></div><br /><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”>The Twins return home for 4 against the Jays after completing their interleague schedule with a 4-2 road trip to the east coast. The last time they faced the Blue Jays they were in the midst of turning around a bad start to May and battling their way toward .500. They won two of three from the Blue Jays, giving them their third straight series win (a streak they would extend to five). Currently, the Twins have begun to heat up a bit after another slow start to June, winning their last two series as they battle to stay above .500. Hopefully, the Twins can engineer a similar result and take this series as well. Toronto got back to .500 with a 3-game sweep of Colorado to finish off a 6-3 homestand. Minnesota is the first stop on a 10-game road trip for Toronto, who will head west to take on Seattle and Oakland after they are finished in the Twin Cities. The Blue Jays are currently in second place in the AL East, 11 games behind the first place Red Sox. They have a pretty large home/road split, with a 13-19 record away from Toronto. The Twins are a much more balanced 20-18 at the Metrodome.</span><br /><br /><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”>In the last series, The Jays scored 14 runs (8 of them coming via HR) on 29 hits (6 HR) in three games. Doing the most damage were Alex Rios (7-15, HR), Lyle Overbay (5-15, HR, 4 RBI), and pinch hitter Adam Lind (2-3, HR). Frank Thomas had an interesting series as he only got two hits, but because they both went for extra bases (a double and a home run), and he drew 4 walks, his OPS for the series was and intimidating 1.129. On another note, Thomas is currently sitting at </span><a href=”http://www.battersbox.ca/article.php?story=20070624140453249″>499 career home runs</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”>. Given that he has hit more home runs (49) against the Twins than any other team, it only seems fitting that he would come to town now.</span><br /><br /><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”>On to the Bluebirds:</span><br /><br /><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”>The Jays have made it back to .500 for the first time since May 1. But, while it may seem like they are still in the hunt for a playoff spot, it’s </span><a href=”http://www.bluebirdbanter.com/story/2007/6/11/123537/142″>an uphill battle from here</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”>. And while it’s encouraging for Jays fans to see their team playing better, the </span><a href=”http://www.bluebirdbanter.com/story/2007/6/23/205630/982″>increasing payroll</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”> serves as a reminder that </span><a href=”http://www.bluebirdbanter.com/story/2007/6/19/153939/872″>this team is still underachieving</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”>. As is usually the case, the </span><a href=”http://mvn.com/mlb-bluejays/2007/06/22/gibbons-micro-and-macro-managing-is-for-the-birds/”>manager is taking some heat</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”> for that. Jays fans have also been giving Frank Thomas a hard time, and the Big Hurt </span><a href=”http://drunkjaysfans.blogspot.com/2007/06/thomas-drops-f-bomb-of-different.html”>fired back last week</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”> (as to be expected from a blog called Drunk Blue Jays Fans, the language is a bit off color, just thought you’d like to know). Perhaps he should have talked to Vernon Wells about how to properly respond to a heckler.</span><br /><br /><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”>The Jays rotation has seen some changes since they were last here. Then the Twins faced Jesse Litsch (currently in AAA), Tomo Ohka (released), and A.J. Burnett (15-day DL, although he may start on Thursday). This time they will face 80% of the Jays rotation, only missing Dustin McGowan, which is notable for two reasons: First off, he’s got </span><a href=”http://mvn.com/mlb-bluejays/2007/06/14/the-sideburns-have-to-go/”>fantastic sideburns</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”>. Secondly, he nearly threw a no-hitter on Sunday against Colorado.</span><br /><br /><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”>The Twins missed Roy Halladay due to his appendectomy in May, but he’ll start the series opener against Kevin Slowey. Halladay (8-2, 4.08 ERA, 1.21 WHIP) has been outstanding again this year, except for a couple of starts surrounding his DL stint. In his last three starts, he’s 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP averaging 7+1/3 innings per start. He’s one of the most </span><a href=”http://lingvortex.blogspot.com/2007/06/torontos-most-revered-sports-figures.html”>well liked people in Toronto sports</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”>, and he just reached a </span><a href=”http://www.babeslovebaseball.com/2007/06/halladay-fans-1000th-batter.html”>milestone 1,000 career strikeouts</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”> in his last start. That’s a lot of positives for Doc, surely he’s due for rude awakening, right?</span><br /><br /><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”>Tuesday’s game will match up Scott Baker (5.1 IP, 3 ER, 4 BB in his </span><a href=”http://toronto.bluejays.mlb.com/news/wrap.jsp?ymd=20070525&amp;content_id=1985907&amp;vkey=wrapup2005&amp;fext=.jsp&amp;c_id=mlb”>May start</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”> vs. Toronto) against </span><strike>Sean</strike> <strike>Shawn</strike><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”> Shaun Marcum (3-0, 2.45 as starter, 8 starts) who has </span><a href=”http://hum-and-chuck.blogspot.com/2007/06/plan-c-rocks.html”>stepped in and done a very good job</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”> for the Jays since becoming a part of the rotation. In his eight starts thus far he’s had three where he didn’t allow a run.</span><br /><br /><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”>Wednesday will feature Boof Bonser and Josh Towers (1-5, 5.68 as starter, 7 starts) who started the year in the rotation, was bumped to the bullpen, then </span><a href=”http://hum-and-chuck.blogspot.com/2007/06/like-phoenix-that-sparrow.html”>reinstated as a starter</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”> earlier this month. Towers </span><a href=”http://taoofstieb.blogspot.com/2007/06/there-is-growing-consenus.html”>hasn’t been lights out</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”> by any stretch of the imagination, but he certainly hasn’t benefited from superior defense either. 6 of the 30 runs he has allowed in his starts have been unearned. His teammates have tried to help him out in other ways though. Frank Thomas (always looking for someone to yell at) </span><a href=”http://hum-and-chuck.blogspot.com/2007/06/silly-mistakes.html”>chewed him out</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”> in the middle of one of his starts, and it seemed to help a little bit. Perhaps he was too busy concocting his next </span><a href=”http://12thstreetchatter.blogspot.com/2007/06/towers-rises-against-social-norms.html”>revolutionary action</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”> to worry how he was pitching that day.</span><br /><br /><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”>In the series finale the Jays are scheduled to throw A. J. Burnett, but he will be coming off the 15-day disabled list (shoulder), so it’s possible he won’t be ready. He pitched well against the Twins in May, only allowing 3 hits and 3 walks in an 8-inning complete game. Add in a hit batsman and a throwing error (by A. J. himself) and the Twins were able to score 4 runs while stranding only 3 baserunners in their 4-2 victory. Carlos Silva got the win in that game (7.1 IP, 2 ER, 6 H), and Thursday is scheduled to be the rematch (this time it’s personal!) betwixt these two starters. Given Burnett’s injury history, it wouldn’t be that surprising if the Jays took it easy with him with regard to pitch counts. Up until now </span><a href=”http://mopupduty.com/index.php/what-to-do-with-aj-burnett/”>they certainly haven’t</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”>. At least when he’s on the DL, A. J. is </span><a href=”http://sports.aol.com/fanhouse/2007/06/18/a-j-burnett-injured-but-still-faster-than-a-chili-pepper/”>capable of amusing himself</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”>.</span><br /><br /><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”>Finally, first there was the <a href=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMdelLmvUf0″>Frank Thomas commercial</a> that was taken off the air in Canada. Now, after seeing this </span><a href=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTHksQR1uwk”>A. J. Burnett commercial</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”>, I’m noticing a trend, and I have to ask, why must the Blue Jays hit everyone in the head? Everyone knows, for true comedy, you have to </span><a href=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aum9lYur3MA”>go for the groin</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”>. (this commercial was banned from TV, so it could be inappropriate for some)</span>

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