Wilner on Jays: The mighty Brandon Morrow

Brandon Morrow struck out eight of the first 17 batters he faced, and not a single one of the four hits he gave up over the first five innings was legit. (CP/Frank Gunn)
April 4, 2013, 12:29 AM

TORONTO, Ont. – It was another frustrating evening for Blue Jays watchers – teams always look terrible when they’re not hitting at all and, for the second straight night, the Jays weren’t hitting at all. Now the best they can possibly do this season is 160-2 which, between you and me, is simply unacceptable.

Here were the three things that stood out to me about their 3-2 loss to the Indians in 11 innings:

Mighty Brandon Morrow

There’s a reason I believe that Morrow will wind up having the best year of any Blue Jays’ starter this season, and he showed why in this game – flashing a fastball that got up to 99 M.P.H. on the stadium gun to go with a killer slider and a nasty change-up.

Morrow struck out eight of the first 17 batters he faced, and not a single one of the four hits he gave up over the first five innings was legit. There was an infield chopper, a broken-bat looper, a ground ball with eyes and a soft liner off the glove of a leaping Maicer Izturis at third base.

After allowing back-to-back cheap hits to lead off the second, Morrow steeled himself and struck out the next three batters to end the inning. The only time the Indians had a runner on third with less than two out, Morrow struck out the next guy.

Morrow was even his own best friend on defence, making a sensational throw to second to start a double play that got him out of the sixth inning, three batters after making like Michael Jordan on a shoe logo to haul in a high throw from Edwin Encarnacion while going to cover first, and landing on the corner of the bag as gracefully as a ballet dancer.

He did exactly what he needed to do all game long, the only exception being his pitch efficiency – Morrow needed 62 pitches to get through the first three innings, which no doubt led to him being unable to get past the sixth.

Not-so-mighty Maicer

At least, not on the field anyway. While Izturis did belt the Blue Jays’ first home run of the season, a solo shot leading off the third that caused everyone to tear up their "who’s going to be the first Blue Jay to go deep in 2013" tickets, he had a second straight rough night in the field.

Izturis was brought over to play second base, but has been moved to third as Brett Lawrie recovers from the ribcage strain that will keep him on the sidelines another couple of weeks. He turned a soft liner by Michael Bourn into a leadoff double by mistiming his leap and having the ball glance off his glove – Bourn wound up scoring the game’s first run later in the frame on a ground ball to Izturis’ left, on which he appeared to break for the bag instead of for the ball.

Later, Izturis twice yanked throws to first in the dirt in front of Edwin Encarnacion. Edwin saved him with a nice pick on the first one, but the second skipped by into right field, allowing Michael Brantley to score the go-ahead run in the eighth inning.

It’ll be nice to have Lawrie back.

Mark Reynolds

After starting his night by striking out twice against Morrow and hitting into a double play, Reynolds was 0-for-7 on the season when he stepped in against Sergio Santos to lead off the 11th inning. Santos got ahead of him 0-2, missed with a pitch, then went in for the kill with high heat, and Reynolds not only caught up to it, but crushed it for what wound up being the game-winning home run.

It boggles the mind that Reynolds – who holds the major-league record with 223 strikeouts in a season – can catch up to a shoulder-high 96-M.P.H. fastball and give it that kind of ride. But I guess if you swing hard all the time, you’re going to run into a pitch you shouldn’t hit and crush it every once in a while.

So the Blue Jays will pick themselves up, dust themselves off and try not to get swept when they hit the field again on Thursday night. Some offence would certainly help.

Jose Bautista had about as timely a hit as one can get when he went deep with one out in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game, but that was only the Jays’ fifth hit of the night – and ninth of the season – and they’ll go into Thursday night’s game looking for the next one.

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