TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays calmed the nerves of a lot of frazzled fans with a relatively easy win over the Boston Red Sox in which they executed all facets of the game to near-perfection.
Here are the three things that stood out to me about their whitewash of the Red Sox:
-FIFTH STARTER THIS
J.A. Happ was the Blue Jays’ best starter when the games didn’t count down in Florida, and he’s kept it going now that things actually do matter.
The lefty, who was slated to be the Opening Day starter for the Buffalo Bisons until Ricky Romero’s surprise demotion last week, gave up a double to Jacoby Ellsbury to lead off the game — and that was it. Happ stranded Ellsbury by getting a pop-up and then striking out Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli and didn’t give up another hit through his 5 .1 innings of work.
Happ walked three, the last one coming on his 99th and final pitch of the day, and struck out six, pretty much dominating the Red Sox the day after the disappointing series-opening loss on the night of John Farrell’s return.
With the new members of the Blue Jays’ vaunted and much-hyped rotation stubbing their collective toes their first trip through, it’s the holdovers — Brandon Morrow and Happ — who have been the only Jays’ starters who have pitched well so far.
R.A. Dickey plans on changing that Sunday.
–CONTINUE TO HIT THE BALL REALLY FAR
The Blue Jays took over the major-league home run lead with a pair of big flies, giving them 11 on the season in just five games (the Reds caught them later in the afternoon).
J.P. Arencibia has been the swinging star so far — his two-run shot off the batters’ eye in dead centre put the Blue Jays up 2-0 in the fourth. It was the first time the Jays have scored first in a game this season.
Arencibia added a double in the eighth inning to give him 19 total bases in 19 at-bats. That would be a slugging percentage of 1.000, which is not bad at all.
Colby Rasmus threw his bat into the ring a couple of innings later with a prodigious three-run blast of his own. One of the longest home runs ever hit at Rogers Centre, Rasmus missed going into Sightlines Restaurant (above what used to be Windows) by about a foot or two, clanging off the facing of the 300 level.
And while Adam Lind didn’t hit the ball really far, he was on base for both home runs, reaching on a walk and his first hit of the season — a line single up the middle. Lind also stole a base, his first in nearly two years, as Mark DeRosa swung through an Alfredo Aceves delivery at his shoe tops in a desperate attempt to put the ball in play on a called hit-and-run.
The Blue Jays bullpen was this close to perfect after Happ’s exit, retiring ten of the 11 batters the relievers combined to face. The only blemish was an infield single by Pedroia deep into the hole between short and third, coming with two out in the ninth.
Steve Delabar, Aaron Loup and Sergio Santos combined on the great effort, with the first two striking out a pair each and Santos notching one of his own.
The Blue Jays may well have the deepest bullpen in all of baseball, with those three relievers combining with Casey Janssen and Darren Oliver to give the Jays a relief corps that runs five deep with very, very good pitchers.
It’s going to be a tremendous luxury for John Gibbons — once the starting rotation rounds into form and has guys going seven innings on a regular basis – to be able to pick and choose from a list of some pretty devastating arms on a daily basis.
The series wraps up Sunday afternoon with Dickey making his second start of the season, taking on Boston’s Opening Day starter, lefty Jon Lester.
The Blue Jays hope to have Jose Bautista back in the line-up for the gam e, serving as the designated hitter. We’ll be on the air for you with the pre-game show at 12:30 p.m. ET along the Blue Jays Radio Network — join us, won’t you?