Jays vs. Indians - The telltale nail
Lovely day in Dunedin. Does it hurt to read that? That's why I said it. Cleveland-Toronto just under way.
In A.J. Burnett fingernail news, it seems the infamous meeting between his index finger and his car door happened more than three months ago - November. And he lost quite a bit of it - "three quarters" of the nail, according to him.
Burnett's taking 'hair and nail' vitamins - Biotin. He's becoming a regular at the local nail salons. He's got his mom and wife consulting on growth promotion.
The nail - or lack of it - prevents him from throwing the spike curve, the yin to the yang of Burnett's high-quality fastball.
But it isn't panic time yet.
"Right now, it’s not bothering me," Burnett said. "But, like I said, if in month and a half, two months it ain’t there, we might have a problem."
Song of the Day: I polled Spencer, the sports web master, for his pick this morning. Spencer is much crueller man than I, prone to wallowing in the misfortune of others. It's a misanthropic tilt that tends to affect all editors.
He suggests anything by Nine Inch Nails. There isn't enough Biotin in the world. I'm going to narrow that to 'Head Like A Hole', which I would argue is the only NIN song. They've just spent the last 20 or so years rerecording it to different lyrics.
1:14 - I'm late. Top of the first in the books. Shaun Marcum enjoyed a three-up, three-down start. A strikeout of Josh Barfield to start and then a pair of 4-3 groundouts.
Shannon Stewart kicks it off for the Jays with a groundout to second. The Jays line-up:
1 - Stewart
2 - Scutaro
3 - Rios
4 - Overbay
5 - Barajas
6 - Snider
7 - Coats
8 - Santos
9 - Inglett
Maybe they're saving the heavy powder for the Yankees tomorrow.
1:18 - Scutaro steps in against Fausto Carmona and doubles down the left-field line. A couple of pitches later, he moves to third on a passed ball.
1:19 - Rios knocks one back up the middle. 1-0 Jays.
1:20 - Rios steals second. Man, he looks quick this year. He always looked fast once he got going, but he has a much quicker first step this spring.
1:21 - Lyle Overbay strikes out.
1:22 - Carmona hits Barajas, who doesn't look best pleased. He walked all the way to first holding his bat. "Evidently, they got that nerve that allows you to unfold your fingers," quips the Post's Sandler.
It's his left elbow. After a visit from trainer George Poulis, Barajas finally surrenders his bat. Carmona starts breathing again.
1:23 - Travis Snider buries one in the ground six inches in front of the plate and legs out an infield single. This kid is faster than he looks. Bases loaded, two out.
1:25 - Carmona walks Buck Coats on four pitches. Maybe he's still tired from last year. Or maybe he's channelling Barry Zito. 2-0 Jays. Sergio Santos can now truly ruin Carmona's day.
1:27 - Santos grounds out to third. Now for the second half of Marcum's day.
1:30 - Ryan Garko knocks one between Santos and Scutaro for a single.
1:32 - Ben Francisco nails one straight at Scutaro. He efficiently turns the 6-4-3 double play. None on, two out.
1:34 - Marcum strikes out Andy Marte. I know, I know, Andy Marte. But Marcum looks sharp. A fine day's work. If he wants to make himself a true Toronto hero, he'll offer Burnett a nail transplant. He just throws the straight curve. He don't need no stinking fingernails.
Marcum's line: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 K
1:36 - Joe Inglett pops out to shallow left.
1:37 - Shannon Stewart grounds out to third. And now I learn that 'Scutaro' is pronounced SCOO-ta-ro (according to the in-game announcer). I really do prefer Scoo-TA-ro. It's pleasingly Ricardo Montalban-ish.
1:39 - Scutaro singles - he's 2-for-2.
1:40 - Hey, hey, hey. The announcer pronounces 'Rios' - (roll of tongue) R-R-R-R-Rios. Now I know I'm right about Scutaro.
1:41 - When Carmona misses, he's missing by a country mile. 2-2 to Rios.
1:43 - After a 38-pitch showdown, Rios knocks one off the third base bag into left field. He's 2-for-2 as well. Men on second and third, two out. They've just pulled Carmona. Embarrassing. Lyle Overbay waits for his turn.
Apropos of the Burnett nail thing and the fact that Burnett won't be able to throw his curve for at least two weeks yet, Drunkjaysfans offers this: "A number two hasn't been held up this long since I last went camping in Algonquin Park." Zing!
1:47 - Now facing Jeff Stevens, Overbay walks. Bases loaded.
1:49 - Barajas grounds back to the mound. Second inning over. Still 2-0 Jays. John Parrish coming in for Toronto.
1:50 - Dude misses the putt on the between-inning giveaway atop the visitors' dugout. My keen observation over three games has been that this ball runs heavily to the left of the cup. If you use this information and win something, remember who you owe a beer.
1:51 - Wind picks up and spills a coffee all over my scoresheet. Can someone please read this blog back to me.
1:52 - Moving to his left, Santos makes a nice backhand grab and nicer throw to first to catch Danny Sandoval. Rolen-esque that was.
1:54 - Ball bounces over the head of Parrish, who stabs at it as he backpedals and can only knock it out of the air. Single. B.J. Ryan makes that play without raising his hand over his head.
1:56 - Parrish catches Trevor Crowe leaning off first. Two out. Is it me, or did someone have a meeting about holding baserunners?
1:58 - Parrish walks the exquisitely named Yamid Hadd.
1:59 - Barfield grounds out to third base. Snider-Coats-Santos due up for Toronto.
2:04 - Snider flies out to left. Some jackass wearing a Rays jersey and a blue wig is trying to rile up the crowd. Dude, this is Dunedin. Nobody cares that you care.
2:07 - Coats reaches base ... somehow. I was engrossed in the blue wig guy. By the way, his jersey is emblazoned with 'Cowbell Kid'. So where's the cowbell, smart guy?
2:09 - Santos walks. Men on first and second, one out.
2:10 - Inglett pops to short. The bane of all newcomers trying to learn the game of baseball - the infield fly rule - is invoked.
2:12 - Inglett grounds into a fielder's choice. End of third. Still 2-0 Jays. Parrish gets another inning.
2:14 - Inglett makes up for that with a sparkling diving catch at second. One out.
2:16 - Dellucci pulls a Parrish fastball over the wall in left. Judging by the subsequent applause, there are at least as many Indians fans as Jays fans here today. 2-1 Toronto.
2:18 - Parrish walks Garko.
2:19 - Ben Francisco singles. Parrish, a man searching for a spot on this team, needs an out here.
2:21 - Marte flies out to deep right field. Garko tags. Men on first and third, two out. Parrish is done. His direct competitor for that left-handed situational reliever spot - Brian Tallet - follows him.
2:24 - Tallet bails him out, drawing Sandoval into a pop out. I'm off now to hunt down Marcum post-game. See you in a bit. The score is still 2-1 Jays.
4:06 - Game over. 6-1 Jays victory. A workmanlike victory against struggling Indians pitching. No stories to match yesterday's NailGate.
The only notable was the foul ball that landed perilously close as we walked to the clubhouse. It hit a Hyundai in the parking lot with a tremendous crash. A couple of kids scooped up the ball.
As we walked back to the pressbox, four elderly women were getting into that Hyundai. They were looking at the dent. I walked over to assure them that it wasn't the work of vandals.
"A foul ball hit your car," I said.
"I see that," said Women One irritably. I suppose I'd be irritated, too.
"Where's the ball?" said Woman Two.
"Uh, some kids got it."
"Great. We get the ding, but we don't get the ball."
I think they were a little peeved I hadn't scooped it up and kept it for them. Then they asked if the team or the park pays for damage to parked cars. Er, no. Just be glad you didn't catch a foul ball in the head. You wouldn't catch me sitting along the baselines at Knology for anything. It's treacherous here.
We'll see you tomorrow when the Yankees arrive. There's rain - torrential downpours, actually - in the forecast. Assuming we have a game, I'll check back in tomorrow at 12:30 or so. See you then.