Halladay (Sung to the tune of 'Holiday')
Roy Halladay sees his first game action today, allowing writers everywhere to unleash a torrent of medical/Western cliches in his honour. Yes, yes, yes, the Doctor is in, Doc Halladay's First Stand, the Doctor will see you now ... to the bench, the Doctor has hit you in the head so hard with a fastball that you need to see ... The Doctor.
Halladay is due for two innings of work this afternoon against Detroit. After Nate Robertson was given the day off yesterday, we will also see two of Detroit's main components - Robertson and Justin Verlander.
Also, we should be seeing most of the Jays revamped line-up. That will follow once I've screwed up the courage to brave the cold (yes, 12 C. Poor me.) and walk to the clubhouse.
10:05 - A brisk but rewarding journey - not one, but two line-ups
Today vs. Detroit
1 - Eckstein
2 - Rios
3 - Wells
4 - Thomas
5 - Rolen
6 - Stairs
7 - Overbay
8 - Hill
9 - Zaun
Much discussion amongst Assembled Media (A.M.) about whether or not this is a harbinger of the Opening Day selection. Remember the bet that manager John Gibbons with A.M. about predicting that first real action against the Yankees in a month's time.
Saturday @ Tampa Bay
1 - Johnson
2 - Shannon Stewart
3 - Rios
4 - Rolen
5 - Scutaro
6 - Barajas
7 - Russ Adams
8 - John McDonald
9 - Thigpen
SP: Dustin McGowan
Also, Jason Frasor is a scratch today because of flu. Jamie Vermilyea takes his place
As an aside, a few locker observations. Lockers in baseball are a bit like tarot cards - read correctly, they reveal something about the future.
The set-up at Knology reveals the following:
- Scott Rolen has taken the double locker just inside the door, the real estate generally occupied by an all-star vet. Last year, Frank Thomas enjoyed that spot. In previous years, it was the territory of Bengie Molina and Carlos Delgado.
- The coveted placement alongside Roy Halladay and A.J. Burnett has been taken by reedy young reliever Vermilyea. Last year, Josh Towers asked for and received that locker.
- While most of the youngsters and non-roster invitees in camp are clustered off to one side (in the pedestrian traffic zine between the door and the backrooms), top prospects Travis Snider and J.P. Arencibia are smack in the middle of the regulars, like Rios and Ryan.
Song of the day: In honour of Halladay's expected demolition of a no-name Tigers line-up, we offer up Band of Horses' The Funeral. Prime-time teen dramas almost ruined this song, but it's too quality to be beaten down for long.
Noon: One more early lockerroom observation.
Halladay has four baseball cards stuck above his cubbie - A.J. Burnett's, Shaun Marcum's, Dustin McGowan's and ... wait for it ... Jesse Litsch's.
Couldn't ask the man if this is his subtle way of declaring his choice for the fifth starter. Halladay was already wearing his pre-game scowl and ensconced in his cone of silence.
Settling in now for the start. Proving that they're big enough not to take offence at hosting the Jays B-list yesterday, the Tigers have sent a pretty respectable line-up to Dunedin:
1 - Curtis Granderson
2 - Placido Polanco
3 - Edgar Renteria
4 - Marcus Thames
5 - Jacque Jones
6 - Ryan Raburn
7 - Brandon Inge
8 - Jeff Larish
9 - Max St. Pierre
Take that together with the fact that the Globe's Jeff Blair has provided me with a pirate TV link where I can get my Wire fix in Florida and the fact that the drive home from Dunedin is always smooth as silk, and the afternoon is shaping up pretty nicely.
5 mins. to first pitch: The yearly spring Canadian anthem adventures have begun. Today's singer brought a small, but very obvious slip of paper and read/sang 'O Canada'.
"I hope the anthem doesn't blow away," quipped CP's Shi Davidi.
This, of course, cannot begin to compete with last year's lowlight. A local American Idol contestant loused Canada's national song up so badly the poor girl had to haltingly apologize to the crowd once she'd finished singing.
Halladay taking the mound now. I'll give you the blow-by-blow for the first little while.
1:07: Curtis Granderson grounds the second pitch weakly to second. 4-3 out. I think Halladay can begin spending that Cy Young bonus.
1:11: After Placido Polanco singles up the middle, Scott Rolen advances quickly on a tricky, high-hopping Edgar Renteria hit and handles it beautifully for the out. I don't see Troy Glaus making that play.
1:13: Marcus Thames gapes at a called third strike. Halladay's first inning quick and efficient, as per the usual.
1:15: Eckstein versus Verlander. The new leadoff man grounds out to third.
1:16: Rios spends most of his at-bat trying to catch up to Verlander's stuff before popping out to second base.
1:18: Vernon Wells grounds out to short. Pitchers - Halladay and Verlander - definitely waaaay ahead of the hitters at this point. Also, wistfully wishing that every inning in August was 12 minutes long.
1:21: Jacque Jones singles through the right-side past a sprawling Aaron Hill. The Tigers have found some holes, but Halladay is getting his grounders.
1:23: Ryan Raburn doubles down the left-field line. Men on second and third, none out, Brandon Inge up.
1:24: Inge grounds out to short. 1-0 Tigers.
1:24: Jeff Larish flies out to shallow left. "No one will test Matt Stairs' arm," Davidi deadpans.
1:25: Montreal's Max St. Pierre does his national duty and grounds out to short to end Halladay's outing. Typical Halladay - five groundball outs and a strikeout. Only two balls hit outside the infield. A successful first outing by any standards.
1:33: Another season first - wireless crashes. To recap: Frank Thomas pops the first pitch he sees into shallow centrefield. Scott Rolen strikes out swinging. Then a newer, trimmer Matt Stairs legs out an infield single. Lyle Overbay follows with a groundout. Basically, the game is now over. We just have to wait an hour and a half for Halladay to stop punishing himself in the weight room before we can ask him about his first spin of the season.
Halladay's line: 2 IP, 3 hits, 1 ER, 1 K
And the pitch count for the statistically minded: 27 thrown, 19 strikes.
1:38: After hammering Jesse Litsch yesterday, Curtis Granderson now takes Scott Downs deep to left-field for a solo homer. 2-0 Tigers. Miguel Cabrera, the gauntlet has been thrown down.
1:47: Aaron Hill reaches base on a throwing error. Eckstein follows him onto the basepaths after being hit by Nate Robertson. Fundamentals, people. Fundamentals.
1:59: The Knology crowd is already on Jeremy Accardo, who gets an inning's work in the fourth. "Throw strikes!" some bass tenor in the cheap seats (they're all cheap seats) screams. Yeesh, people, it's February.
2:07: After Frank Thomas doubles off the centre-field wall, Scott Rolen muscles a ball through the right side of the infield for a single. First back to back hits of the year.
2:11: Lyle Overbay singles, bringing home Thomas. 2-1 Tigers.
4:02: Game over and they're already driving me bonkers with the riding mowers. Don't these people know you're not supposed to cut grass when the sun's out? Anyway, game ended 3-1 Tigers.
Roy Halladay, using only two pitches (fastball and change-up) held five front-line Tigers in check. A good day at the office for the Doc. And, mark me now, that is the last time I will refer to Halladay as the 'Doc' this year. Pinkie swear.
See you tomorrow in St. Pete's, where sea breezes will cool me in the outdoor press box and where flung bats cannot possibly reach me. This time Robbo from El Globo will be supplying the lift to work. Left, McLeod! LEFT!