The Jays will be participating in their 36th Toronto home opener on Monday night at the Rogers Centre facing the Boston Red Sox. The Jays are 26-9 in home openers, including wins in five of the last six.
The Jays beat the Twins 13-3 last year in the Rogers Centre opener, after losing 8-7 to the White Sox in 2010. For those interested in a sure thing, they are sequentially due for a win. The Jays have never gone L-W-L in any three consecutive home openers. They have never won fewer than two in a row and are on a one-game T-O opener winning streak.
The Jays will send righthander Henderson Alvarez to the mound on Monday. The 21-year-old Venezuelan was 1-2 with a 3.53 ERA in 10 starts last year and was 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA in five starts at spring training. How will he handle the opening day buzz?
“Kind of like he's done everything else, work quick, throw strikes, change some speeds," manager John Farrell said. "The one thing that really stood out last year when we had first-year guys come to the pitching staff, Luis Perez, Joel Carreno and Alvarez, all three handled themselves exceptionally well. I guarantee everyone in our uniforms will be heightened tomorrow. That's the norm with Opening Day, but he's such a good athlete, that I think he can channel that adrenaline in the right way."
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The Jays opened the season with back-to-back extra-inning games for the first time in club history. The last time the Jays had played consecutive extra-inning contests was July 25-25, 2009, a pair of losses vs. Tampa Bay. The Jays and Indians 28 innings over the first two games is the second highest total for the first two games of any season in major-league history. The Royals and Twins played 12 innings and 17-innings to start the 1969 season. The Jays are 15-4 in extra innings since the start of last year, including five extra-inning wins in a row.
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There has been a firestorm surrounding the decision by Ubaldo Jimenez to drop his appeal of a five-game suspension immediately after facing the Blue Jays in Game 2 of the season on Saturday. The feeling is that he has manipulated the rules to his advantage and as a starting pitcher will simply have his next start pushed back one day instead of missing one full turn in the rotation. The suspension is without pay. Do the Jays have a problem?
"That's the way the rules are written," Jays' righthander Carlos Villanueva said. Villanueva represents the club in many union matters, but is also an opponent of Ubaldo affected by the rule masnipulation. "I think I would have done the same thing."
There is a tremendous amount of righteous indignation directed at Jimenez and the MLBPA for simply doing what has been done for years in terms of using the rules as written to make any suspension as painless as possible. If ownershp has no problem, if Jimenez's opponents have no problem with it, then where is the problem? Jimenez did not target Troy Tulowitzki in the area of the head and hitting an opponent on purpose has been a part of baseball history for over 100 years. Ask Pat Hentgen, one of the nicest men alive but a pitcher that never needed to be asked when retribution was in order. Get over it, fans.
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After catching every inning of the first two extra-inning games, catcher J.P. Arencibia was given the day off on Sunday, making way for backup catcher Jeff Mathis. A day of rest?
“That's part of it," manager John Farrell said. "In looking at the series upcoming, we're going to ride J.P., but at the same time my view at that position – and not to take anything away from either guy – it's a two-man position as far as I'm concerned. We're fortunate we've got a very capable No. 2 catcher in Mathis."
Mathis doubled in three at-bats vs. Derek Lowe and was one for two in throwing out Tribe runners attempting to steal. The veteran started 79 games for the Angels last year. As a starter behind the plate in 2011, he batted .178 with a .496 OPS. For the year, he threw out 27-percent of opposing base stealers.