TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays shut out the Twins in the series opener, and Saturday afternoon those pesky Minnesotans returned the favour, to the great chagrin of more than 37,000 paying customers at Rogers Centre.
Here are three things that stood out to me about the Blue Jays being whitewashed:
The first few innings of the game saw no less than four absolute train wrecks on the basepaths as both the Blue Jays and Twins put on a clinic on how not to run the bases.
It started with the very first batter of the ballgame, Brian Dozier, who led off with a single to right field but almost got thrown out by Jose Bautista. Dozier then wandered much too far off of first base on Joe Mauer’s shallow fly to centre, anticipating it might drop in front of a hard-charging Colby Rasmus. It didn’t, and Rasmus’s weak off-balance throw was enough to get him.
Jose Reyes then led off the Blue Jays half of the first inning by reaching on an error, and almost immediately got picked off by Mike Pelfrey. Reyes was dead to rights as Pelfrey turned and threw just as he was leaning towards second. So completely was Reyes picked off that he didn’t even move, instead waiting for Justin Morneau to come over and tag him.
In the second, it was Maicer Izturis’ turn. He singled then went much, much too far on Josh Thole’s long fly ball to centre, also anticipating that it might fall in and trying to make sure that he could score if it did. Izturis was a step beyond second base when Twins centrefielder Aaron Hicks ran the ball down, and was unable to get back to first in time.
Finally, Chris Parmelee found himself at third base with nobody out in the third and Hicks on first. Eduardo Escobar hit a grounder that R.A. Dickey came down off the mound to field, and it appeared as though Dickey would only have a play at first base. But Parmelee, I guess, thought that Dickey was going to have a shot at a double play, so he decided to sacrifice himself. He took a few steps off third, knowing he would be meatcake, and Dickey ran at him then flipped to Thole who tagged him out. Instead of likely second and third with one out, the Twins had first and second and nobody out. A passed ball a couple of pitches later put runners where they should have been, though.
THE TWO DICKEYS
It has been a rough start to Dickey’s Blue Jays career, to be sure. He’s had a few terrific outings, but not enough, and Saturday afternoon was the seventh time this season that he has allowed at least six earned runs in a start.
The amazing thing is that Dickey was sensational in the five innings in which he held the Twins off the board, and awful in the two innings in which he didn’t.
The Twins got three runs in each of the third and seventh, two innings over which they picked up six hits, four of which went for extra bases. The big blows were a two-out RBI double by Jamey Carroll in the third and a three-run homer for Dozier in the seventh. Dickey threw 49 pitches in those two innings, as opposed to 59 over the other five combined.
Dickey’s two pitching lines would read as follows: five innings, one hit, no runs, one walk and three strikeouts; and two innings, six hits, six runs (all earned), one walk, no strikeouts and a home run.
Dickey’s problem all season long has been establishing consistency with his knuckleball, but I don’t think we’ve seen it be so inconsistent within a single game as we did Saturday.
While the rest of his teammates were busy being thoroughly befuddled by Mike Pelfrey, who came into the game with a 6.11 ERA, Izturis went 3 for 3 with singles in each of his three at-bats. He never made it past first base, though.
Without Izturis’ contributions, the Blue Jays would have been one-hit by the Twins — the only other Jays safety was an infield single by Rajai Davis with two out in the fourth. Replays showed Davis was out, and he eventually was — thrown out almost immediately trying to steal second, only the third time he’s been caught in 24 attempts this season.
Izturis got off to a terrible start for his Blue Jays career, but the switch-hitter has really turned things around over the last month. Over his last 24 games, Izturis has hit .318/.347/.443, adding some solid production at the bottom of the lineup.