The Blue Jays slumbered through the first six innings of their series finale against the Red Sox, but it must have been the familiar strains of “OK, Blue Jays” that woke them up. It would be nice to give the credit to the Fitness Ontario dancers, but they don’t come around here much anymore.
Jon Lester was dealing, having allowed only hit through the first six — a double down the left-field line by Omar Vizquel — and the Red Sox’ lefty got two quick outs in the bottom of the seventh as Adam Lind flied to deep left and Moises Sierra struck out looking.
It was then, though, that the magic of the Blue Jays’ phenomenal seventh-inning stretch song took effect. Yan Gomes, forced into the line-up for the first time since August 19th with Jeff Mathis’ late scratch due to flu-like symptoms, was 0-for-2 with a strikeout, but he let it rip on the first pitch from Lester and stung a base hit up the middle, which was just his third hit in his last 30 major league at-bats. Rajai Davis was sent out to run for Gomes, and with Omar Vizquel at the plate, stole second on the first pitch. Davis took off for third on the next pitch, but Vizquel fouled it off. He went again on the next pitch, and this time Vizquel squared one up and lined a single into centre, scoring Davis easily and giving the Blue Jays the lead.
The hit for Vizquel was his second of the game and the 2,872nd of his major-league career. With the Blue Jays now off to New York for a three-game set with the Yankees, it’s important to note that Babe Ruth had 2,873 hits in his major-league career.
While Vizquel’s clutch single provided the first scoring of the afternoon, we didn’t have to wait long at all for the next, as Adeiny Hechavarria followed with a two-run blast down the left-field line, up into the 200 level. It was Hechavarria’s second home run in the Bigs, but the first that he can proud of, since it wasn’t a Yankee Stadium special. OK, maybe that’s a little harsh — he should be proud of the first one regardless.
Watching Davis come in and run in that situation made me kind of wistful for the way this season was supposed to go. The plan was to have Davis as the fourth outfielder, but more importantly as a pair of legs off the bench which could be used at the appropriate time to give the Blue Jays a huge advantage on the basepaths. He wasn’t able to be used that way when the Jays were healthy for the first three months of the season because of the decision to have Eric Thames play left field. Thames’ presence in the line-up meant that Davis had to be used as a defensive replacement late in close games, and that eliminated the opportunity to use him as a pinch-runner in the eighth or ninth on multiple occasions. If the Blue Jays pick up Davis’ option and bring him back next season to use in the role he was intended to play, he could be a massive game-changer.
Brandon Morrow was terrific, working six shutout innings before handing it off to the bullpen. He wasn’t terribly efficient, throwing 102 pitches, but he only allowed three legitimate hits, all of which were singles (there was a fourth on a routine fly ball lost in the sun by Moises Sierra), and he only walked one. He was helped out by a couple of terrific grabs by Anthony Gose in left field, and a very pretty play by Hechavarria on a comebacker that glanced off Morrow’s glove. Defensively, the future is now.
Morrow’s outing was great to see, given that he just didn’t look like himself last time out, giving up 11 hits and not making it out of the 5th inning against the Mariners. He’s taken a huge step forward this season in his progression to ace-dom, and the Blue Jays are going to need him to dominate more often than not from here on out if they imagine themselves a contender in the near future.
The Blue Jays now head out on their final road trip of the season, a ten-gamer through The Bronx, St. Petersburg and Baltimore before coming home to bring the curtain down on their miserable 2012. With the High Holidays upon us, Ben Ennis will be doing some fine fill-in duty for me on The BlueJaysTalk on Tuesday night — make sure to tune in and be entertained! I’m sure you were entertained Sunday afternoon, as I was joined on The BlueJaysTalk by Blue Jays bogger Tao of Stieb — the audio is attached below. I’ll be back on Wednesday, try not to miss me too much.
While I’m gone, please continue doing such a great job of voting for Tom Cheek in the second round of fan balloting for the Ford C. Frick Award for Broadcasting Excellence, which cuts the remaining group of 41 down to just three. We have to keep voting – once a day, every day, until voting closes at 5:00 PM Eastern on October 5th – to make sure those who elect the Frick winner are well aware of just how much Tom deserves to be honoured in Cooperstown among other broadcasting legends, how much he continues to mean to Blue Jays fans all across the world, and how important his contributions were to baseball fandom across this country.
So please, be even more diligent than you were before and make sure to go to www.facebook.com/baseballhall, then click on ’13 Frick Voting and cast your vote for Tom. He’s on the first page now, so it’s even easier! You can vote once every 24 hours, so please do so as often as you can. For more reminders, follow @VoteTomCheek on Twitter and like the “Send Tom Cheek To Cooperstown” page on Facebook. Thank you, you’re doing a wonderful thing for a wonderful man.