Series Preview in Blog: Toronto Blue Jays

The Twins return to the Dome (the last time they do that for the first time in the season … wait, what?) after dropping the final two games of their series in Chicago.  I was at the game on Sunday and I’ve got pictures.  If you behave yourselves, maybe I’ll share them soon.  The Twins fell to 3-4, a game behind Detroit in the AL Central.  Toronto has won their first two series against the Tigers and the Indians and sit atop the AL East with a 5-2 record.

Alex Rios is so excited about this hot start he may be losing his grip on reality.  The money quote – “If we keep doing this, we’ll win, like, 300 games.”  I’m pretty sure 300-(-137) would be some kind of new record.  Also, I feel the need to point out the sidebar of ‘Hum and Chuck’ and the picture captioned ‘Your 2009 Toronto Blue Jays’.  I’m not sure what it signifies, but it amuses me.  It’s easy to laugh at Rios for getting over-excited, but keep in mind this fast start is only the first step in crossing off item one on Toronto’s 2009 to-do list. A more unattainable goal for them is getting Canadians to care less about hockey and more about the Blue Jays.

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Series Preview in Blog: Toronto Blue Jays (Round 3)

<span style=”font-family:times new roman;”>I apologize for not getting something together for the Angels series, our cats dumped a vase of flowers on our keyboard and the bottom row stopped working for a couple of days.  Being that ‘Los A_geles’, ‘A_ahei_’, and ‘A_gels’ all required use of the ‘n’ or ‘m’ key, I decided to pass on that for the moment.  However I could have possibly posted something about ‘typewriters’ or ‘stewaredesses’, or maybe ‘polkas’, but it just didn’t seem right.  Anyway, we’re back, new keyboard in hand, with the Toro_to _lue Jays.</span><br /><br /><div style=”text-align:center;”><span style=”font-size:130%;”><span style=”font-weight:bold;font-family:times new roman;”>Minnesota Twins (51-47) @ Toronto Blue Jays (48-50)</span></span> </div> <span style=”font-family:times new roman;”><br />The Twins finished up a 6-4 homestand by winning two of three from the Angels.  They now head out on the road for six games against the Jays and the Indians.  The Blue Jays won two of three from Seattle this past weekend in Toronto and finish up their homestand with these three games against the Twins.  Toronto is in third place in the AL East, 11 games behind the Red Sox, far enough out of the races that it may be time to </span><a href=””>give up on this season</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”> for the Jays front office.  The Blue Jays have been a very different team in Canada, where they are 28-20 (as opposed to the US where they are 20-30).  The Twins haven’t played a game north of the border, but they are an even 23-23 on the road.  The Twins won 4 of the 7 games played by these two teams in Minnesota.</span> <br /><br /><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”><strong>Toronto Blue Jays Inspired Trivia:</strong>  The Blue Jays are one of four franchises in the Major Leagues which have not officially retired a jersey number (excepting Jackie Robinson’s 42).  Can you name the other three?  (Hint: at least one of the answers is a franchise over 15 years old).  You can cross off the Yankees and the Nationals from your potential answers, as they have not only retired numbers, they’ve retired the same number twice (NY – #8, WAS – #10).<br /><br />Here’s the midseason </span><a href=”″>report card on the Blue Jays offense</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”>.  Alex Rios gets high marks, but no mention is made of his penchant for </span><a href=””>very loud shirts</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”>.  There were quite a few comments on how inconsistent the Jays offense has been this season.  But, when you </span><a href=””>crunch the numbers</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”>, Toronto fans have got nothing on Twins fans in that department.  Of course, there are  other ways to annoy your fan base.  </span><a href=””>Losing on a balk</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”> is certainly right up there.</span>  <span style=”font-family:times new roman;”><br /><br />Report cards on the </span><a href=”″>starters</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”> and the </span><a href=”″>relievers</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”> were also filled out, with the bullpen getting high marks.  The Twins will face a trio of young Toronto starters in this series, while missing Roy Halladay (</span><a href=””>Nick Punto breathes a sigh of relief</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”>).  The Blue Jays have been blessed with some strong performances from their young pitchers, which is naturally </span><a href=””>a bad thing</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”>.  While I can’t really agree that good equals bad for the Jays, it will be interesting to see how the rotation changes in the remainder of this season and in to the next.</span><br /><br /><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”>On Monday Johan Santana pitches against Shaun Marcum (13 starts, 3.24 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, .219 BAA, 2.9 BB/9).  Marcum has hit a rough patch recently, posting a 8.22 ERA over his last 3 starts.  He has received the </span><a href=””>lowest amount of run support</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”> from the offense as well.  In his previous outing against the Twins he held them to one run in 8 innings in a no-decision.</span>  <span style=”font-family:times new roman;”><br /><br />Tuesday brings Scott Baker and Dustin McGowan (14 starts, 4.84 ERA, .248 BAA, 3.5 BB/9).  McGowan has alternated good and bad outings over the last 7 starts (2,6,0,5,0,6,2 runs allowed) and he’s due for a bad outing.  Personally, I’m looking forward to the battle of the sideburns, </span><a href=””>McGowan</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”> versus </span><a href=””>Mauer</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”>.  While his facial hair choices have </span><a href=””>drawn some criticism</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”>, Marcum </span><a href=”″>says</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”> “My wife is the only one who likes them, and she’s the only one that counts.”  For more on facial hair, there are a couple of links in </span><a href=””>this entry</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”> to the best beards and mustaches in baseball.  Sal Fasano is understandably featured in those lists, Fasano is currently in the Toronto farm system, and he has endeared himself to Toronto fans to the point where they have taken up the cause that the </span><a href=””>American League could have used him</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”> in the All-Star game.  That’s a hard pill to swallow, but what’s undeniable is that Fasano has been the best Jays catcher with respect to </span><a href=”″>throwing out baserunners</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”>, something the Jays have struggled with all year.</span>  <span style=”font-family:times new roman;”><br /><br />In the finale, it’s Carlos Silva against Jesse Litsch (7 starts, 4.54 ERA, .317 BAA, 3.8 BB/9).  All these Toronto pitchers seem to have control issues.  In his start against the Twins, the rookie Litsch required a lot of pitches (89) to go only 4.3 innings, and gave up 8 hits and 3 runs.</span>  <span style=”font-family:times new roman;”><br /><br />Finally, this is the last series against the Blue Jays, so it’s my last chance to mention </span><a href=””>The Batter’s Box</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”> Hall of Names.  A roster is assembled following a theme, and they’ve had a lot of great entries in the series.  My favorites are </span><a href=”″>Latin themed names</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”>, the </span><a href=”″>last player standing</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”> from each birth year, a series on </span><a href=”″>players with the same first and last initials</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”>, and, of course, the </span><a href=”″>Harry Potter</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”> themed roster.</span>

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=”″>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=”″>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=”″>increasing payroll</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”> serves as a reminder that </span><a href=”″>this team is still underachieving</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”>. As is usually the case, the </span><a href=””>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=””>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=””>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=””>well liked people in Toronto sports</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”>, and he just reached a </span><a href=””>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=”;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=””>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=””>reinstated as a starter</a><span style=”font-family:times new roman;”> earlier this month. Towers </span><a href=””>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=””>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=””>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=””>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=””>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=”″>Frank Thomas commercial</a> that was taken off the air in Canada. Now, after seeing this </span><a href=””>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=””>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>

Series Preview in Blog: Toronto Blue Jays

Minnesota Twins (22-24) v. Toronto Blue Jays (21-25)

The Twins return home after a nine game road trip, on which they went 4-5. They started by being swept by the Indians before taking two of three from Milwaukee and Texas. Toronto will finish off their own nine game road trip with this series. They are 3-3 thus far, losing 2 of 3 to Philadelphia last weekend and winning 2 of 3 from Baltimore this week. The Blue Jays have a 9-14 record on the road, while the Twins have a slightly better 10-13 record at home. The Blue Jays are currently third in the AL East, 10 games back of the Red Sox and a half game back of the second place Yankees. The Twins remain in fourth place in the central division, 7 games back of Detroit and 2.5 back of third place Chicago.

This has little to do with the Jays, but Happy Birthday to Jason Kubel (Friday). Hopefully someday he will make it off the bench on the “Born on May 25” team.

On to the Jays:

The only thing I don’t understand about this list is how Corey Koskie was on this team for a full season and managed to not make a single appearance.

The Jays have shown signs of life recently, but for a while, they looked terrible (I’m sure some of you can relate). That stretch included a nine game losing streak and a stretch of 5-14 baseball. As this interview with Jays manager John Gibbons shows, there’s no need to worry he’s on top of all the important things. Here’s a more serious analysis of some of general manager J. P. Riccardi’s moves this season.

The Blue Jays pitchers for the series will be Jesse Litsch (called up on Tuesday), Tomo Ohka, and A. J. Burnett. Saturday’s matchup of Ohka vs. Ortiz should be interesting. Ohka was removed from the rotation earlier this month after going 0-2 with a 6.35 ERA in May. Saturday marks his return to the rotation after 11 days rest. Burnett has won his last three starts and has been the rock of the rotation in recent times for Toronto. The Twins will not be seeing Roy Halliday this series as he is still recovering from an appendectomy.

Offensively, Lyle Overbay has continued his slow start, which could be cause for concern for Jays fans. You can also add Vernon Wells to that list.

The Blue Jays all-time top 50 has some familiar faces for Twins fans. Specifically #21, #33, and #38. No, I didn’t get those numbers wrong, Paul Molitor is really only #38 on that list. Here’s the authors defense of that placement.

Finally, while the Jays are here at the Dome, I’m sure that Twins fans will be well behaved. However, if they aren’t nice to Vernon Wells, they may get a souvenir out of the deal. More on the story here.

That’s it from me, if you find anything interesting, feel free to post it in the comments. Thanks for reading.