Jays edge Yankees 1-0
The Blue Jays shut out the Yankees at Steinbrenner Field on Thursday, behind the seven-hit pitching of Brandon Morrow and seven relievers. Morrow worked two innings, throwing an efficient 23 pitches, 15 for strikes. The righthander said that in his first start five days earlier in Lakeland, he treated it too much like an extension of live batting practice, rather than a game against a live major-league opponent. He made the adjustment.
“I treated it more like game speed,” Morrow said. “I was more aggressive to my spot, with the ball where I wanted to throw it. I felt the same kind of rhythm in my delivery last time but I was a little soft with throwing the ball. That's why everything was up. This time everything was down, good locations and a couple of good innings.”
The Jays' only run came on a solo homer by non-roster third-baseman Andy LaRoche in the seventh inning off rookie Chase Whitley that made a winner out of lefthander Brett Cecil. The young veteran Cecil touched 90 m.p.h. on the radar gun, but packed the wrong jersey for the trip across the bay, forced to wear the No. 26 of Adam Lind.
The Jays raised their record to 3-4 and will host Tampa Bay on Friday, with LH Mark Buehrle against RH Jake Odorizzi.
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Coach Luis Rivera breaks out the infield shift
For the first time this spring, the Jays made use of the exaggerated infield shift popularized in Toronto by former coach Brian Butterfield. In the first inning, with Mark Teixeira hitting, third baseman Brett Lawrie crossed the diamond to take his position at the back of the infield dirt between Edwin Encarnacion and Maicer Izturis. He played the situation at double-play depth with a runner at first, but Morrow struck Teixeira out.
With two outs, Lawrie backed up deeper into short right field for Travis Hafner. The Yankee DH ripped a hard ground ball off Encarnacion's glove that was then fielded by Lawrie and fired to first for the final out, the highly unusual 3-5-3 putout. Before the game, coach Luis Rivera had discussed the strategy.
“(Lawrie) is one of the keys to it,” Rivera said. “He can play so deep and he can come in and get the ball. I see him catching line drives to right field where it can be a base hit. We'll have to wait and see. There's a lot of video that I have to watch, even though last year I watched all those guys. Then we have to make a decision after that.”
It's not perfect. Later in the game, with Sergio Santos pitching, Hafner sliced a popup to medium left field. Using a normal defensive alignment, it would have been a routine play by the left fielder, but with the shift on, Jose Reyes had to race out at full speed and make a spectacular over the head catch. The shift taketh away and the shift giveth. Manager John Gibbons seems to have mixed feelings, but will leave the decision up to Rivera, with input from all five starting pitchers.
.”What I want (pitching coach) Pete (Walker) to do with some of those new pitchers when they get their gameplan together is sit down with Luis, the defensive guy, and make sure it all matches up,” Gibbons said. “Guys like (Mark) Buehrle, they know the (hitters). They know how they pitch. We want to make sure he's on board with it too, where he wants his defence to play. A guy like that is such a command guy. He's not going to miss a whole lot. We've got to make sure we get the guys in the spots where he likes them too.”
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Rasmus late scratch from lineup
Centre fielder Colby Rasmus had been in the original batting order that was posted on the board in Dunedin, but by the time the bus arrived at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, he had been replaced by Rajai Davis. Manager John Gibbons said that Rasmus had injured the back of his non-throwing shoulder on Wednesday, but nobody was quite sure of the play on which it occured or the circumstances. Rasmus is day-to-day.
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Gibbons not big on regulating home plate collisions
There have been suggestions raised by a couple of major-league managers, Bruce Bochy of the Giants and Mike Matheny of the Cardinals, that perhaps collisions at home plate wherein the baserunner charges home and often rolls over the catcher resulting in injury, should be eliminated. Runners would not be allowed to contact a defenceless catcher.
Recall that Bochy's catcher Buster Posey was injured in a collision at the plate early in the 2011 season and missed the remainder of the season. In Posey's rookie season, 2010, and in his next healthy season, 2012, the Giants were World Series winners both years.
Meanwhile, Matheny's career as a major-league catcher was ended by concussions, some of which were likely caused or enhanced by collisions at the plate.
Like Matheny and Bochy, Jays' manager John Gibbons is a former major-league catcher, but he does not agree. In fact, Gibbons won the Mets' starting catching job at the end of spring training 1984, before Phillies outfielder Joe Lefebvre raced home from third base and threw an errant elbow that fractured Gibbons' jaw. He never regained the starting post after returning from the DL. Despite that, Gibbons prefers the rules the way they are.
“I want (J.P. Arencibia) to play like the game's always been played,” Gibbons said when asked if we would advise his man not to block the plate. “Injuries are freak things. But when a guy gets one at home plate, that's usually pretty serious though. That's the only problem with that.
“If you look at it, most catchers in baseball, they drift out (in front of the plate) anyway. Very rarely do they hold their ground on that, unless it's important like a game-winning run. The big complaint was, well they start leaking out. They've got to make a swipe tag or a dive tag. You end up missing the guy, so you always tell them, 'Hey, hold your ground.' I want him to play the game the way it's always been played. Injuries at home plate are very rare anyway.”
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Reyes insists Jeffrey Loria advised him to buy a new house
Down the pike in Miami, the Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria told the Sun Sentinel's Juan Rodriguez that Jose Reyes' memory of events was not quite correct.
Loria insisted to Rodriguez that Reyes is the one that told the owner at a charity banquet that he and his wife were house-hunting and, further, Loria said that as soon as he found out from team executive Larry Beinfest that the trade with the Jays was potentially happening, that the owner called Reyes' agent to inform him. The charity fundraiser took place on Nov. 11 in New York City raising money for research for Lou Gehrig Disease (ALS). Honourees were Reyes and Mets' starter R.A. Dickey. The 12-player trade was leaked on Nov. 14.
When Reyes was informed during Wednesday's batting practice prior to the Jays' game against the Yankees, of Loria's differing memory of those events, he laughed and quickly repeated his earlier assertions he had made in Jays camp in mid-February that the owner had told him to “buy a nice house.”
Reyes several days later, then left on vacation and it was while he was away in Dubai with his wife that he found out he was traded to the Blue Jays.