Griffin: Blue Jays land in SoCal in time for two celebrations
ANAHEIM-The Blue Jays, following a successful homestand, with four wins in six games against the Mariners and the powerful Rangers, flew to California following Wednesday's 11-5 win vs. Texas to begin a 10-game, 11-day road trip to Anaheim, Oakland and Minnesota.
The Jays' offence is starting to click behind its new breakout star, Edwin Encarnacion, while the starting pitching continues to be solid, going deep into games, day-in and day-out.
It was a major chest-thumping step up for the club to bounce back with two straight wins vs. the Rangers after the impressive Japanese rookie Yu Darvish had dazzled them in the series opener on Monday. The Rangers remain confident. The Jays are the ones that needed the boost. It was a happy flight to the West Coast for the Jays following the game.
Upon arrival, there was an interesting juxtaposition of duelling celebrations with the Angels and with the Jays later on Wednesday night.
While Ricky Romero and 10 of his Jays teammates gathered at Casa Romero, the home of his parents, for a home-cooked meal from Ricky's mom twitpic.com/9gmcyz in a nice bonding experience, at the same time the Angels and their fans were being re-energized at the Big A by a no-hitter being spun against the Twins by ace righthander Jered Weaver.
The Angels definitely needed the timely boost in morale provided by the 9-0 Weaver no-no, even though Albert Pujols continued his longball drought. The good news, a small blessing at best, is that Pujols hit three line drives and it looks like he's getting closer to finding the seats in fair territory. Tough to see that as light at the end of the tunnel when the Pujols tunnel cost 10-years and $240 million. Nevertheless, the no-hitter was the focus du jour.
As for the Jays celebration, it's just another example of the genuine closeness of this Jays roster that is remarkable when I consider some of the other 25-players, 25-cabs clubhouse mentalities that I have witnessed in my 40 seasons of being around major-league baseball on a professional basis, since '73.
The Romero family makes this team-meal thing a tradition, even whipping up tasty Mexican treats for the boys whenever they visit their son in Dunedin for a week or two during spring training. But what makes the photo that @RickyRo24 himself tweeted, what makes it special are small details like the serious-looking 21-year-old starter Drew Hutchison, with the team for two weeks, but invited along with the others, sitting at the Romero's kitchen table still wearing the tie and jacket that he had worn on the flight from Toronto earlier in the day. That's a show of respect by Hutchison and that's team-building by the leader of the rotation, Romero.
As for Weaver and the Angels, they have now won three games in a row and are on their first mini-roll of the 2012 season. Don't count them out.
I arrived at my hotel across from the stadium in time to watch the final three innings on TV and, after it was over, the fans that streamed out of the ballpark were all upbeat and celebratory. At the popular Catch restaurant and bar within solid two-iron distance of the ballpark, not one mention was made of the Pujols slump, instead it was all high-fives and smiles, all about the local kid, Weaver, who had signed an extension this winter to stay with Anaheim at a home-team discount. His parents were there in the stands and it was a nice scene, with Jered hugging his mom and dad again and again on the field.
The season is young and the Angels, with Weaver, Dan Haren, C.J. Wilson, Ervin Santana and fifth starter Jerome Williams in their rotation, will still be a factor. The Jays are in tough as they always are when they come to California.