Week 21 (August 23 – 29) of the season saw the Jays hold their own in a difficult seven-game homestand against the Yankees and Tigers. Toronto finished the week 4-3, not too bad considering the opposition and the fact that starter Marc Rzepczynski had two tough starts. The week also marked the end of the season series between Toronto and long-time rival Detroit – something that the Jays will be thrilled about. Though they did split the 8-games this year, the Tigers outscored the Jays 39-28, and Miguel Cabrera absolutely obliterated Blue Jay pitching (14-for-32, .438 average, .500 OBP, 1.344 OPS, 2 HR, 8 RBI).
It doesn’t get any easier. The Jays now get set for the toughest portion of their schedule – 13 consecutive games against first place teams. They head to Tampa Bay and New York this week, before returning home to face the Rangers and Rays next week. Ouch.
Here are three things (all pitching related) from week 21:
1. Morrow Shut Down
Right hander Brandon Morrow came to the Jays with a checkered past – part starter / part closer, with a reputation for being injury prone. Here we are at the end of August and Morrow has arguably been Toronto’s most consistent starter this season, something that not even the biggest optimist could have imagined.
Toronto announced that Morrow will make only one more start this season, Friday night in New York, citing a high number of innings compared to last year. Heading into that final start, his numbers have been oustanding: 10-6, 4.27 ERA, 174 K, and an MLB leading 10.93 K/9.
Even better are his numbers since the All-Star break, at home this season, and against baseball’s two best teams (Tampa and New York):
Post Break: 5-0, 3.88 ERA, 74 K, 12.49 K/9
At Home: 8-1, 2.74 ERA, 97 K, 10.65 K/9
vs. TB and NYY: 7 starts, 3-1, 3.11 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 62 K, 12.04 K/9
Does anybody still miss Brandon League?
2. The Sad Saga of Brian “Billy” Tallet
Entering this season, Tallet was considered a solid spot-starter and long reliever out of the Jays bullpen. After a decent start, he has deteriorated into nothing more than a severe liability. With David Purcey on the way back, it may only be a matter of time before Tallet is whisked away.
His 2010 numbers don’t look as bad considering how bad he’s been lately: 2-5, 6.44 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 42 K: 33 BB. Over the past three weeks Tallet has appeared in six games, pitched 10.1 innings, and been thoroughly rocked: 0-1, 9.58 ERA, 2.03 WHIP, 3 HR allowed.
I will miss the moustache….but I won’t miss the pitching.
3. Honouring an Ace
Yesterday’s game was an absolute dud with the Tigers thumping the Blue Jays 10-4. But nobody in attendance seemed to mind because of the wonderful pre-game ceremony to honour Dave Stieb on the 20th anniversary of his no-hitter. The cerenomy had it all:
Alumni – former player and manager, and current broadcaster Buck Martinez was the MC, with Tony Fernandez, Duane Ward, Jessie Barfield, and Pat Hentgen all on the field with their former teammate.
Memories – the video tribute showed clips of Stieb’s illustrious career, including his All-Star game starts, near no-hitters, and ultimate triumph against Cleveland, along with interview clips from Cito, Paul Beeston, and Bobby Mattick.
From Past to Present – the top four of Toronto’s current starting rotation (Marcum, Romero, Cecil, Morrow) were on the field to present Stieb with a commemorative painting, created by Vernon Wells Sr.
Humour – the painting nearly blew over, prompting quick reflexes from Buck to save the day.
Overall the tribute was fantastic, the bobble head was great, and seeing Stieb was amazing. Too bad he didn’t make an appearance on the mound – the Jays could have used him.