Jays Opening Day Review

Trumbo Killer, Quesque C’est?

April 3, 2017, by Darren Clarke

Game one of the Toronto Blue Jays season opened in the first stadium built following the Skydome being constructed in Toronto. Where the people of Toronto got a monster truck palace with a gimmicky roof that both opened and closed (almost as amazing as, “traffic and weather together”), the people of Baltimore got a beautiful, richly detailed, actual real grass, baseball stadium in Camden Yards. In this regard, Baltimore always beats Toronto.

Coming into this game from a Blue Jay fans’ perspective it felt like, if life was just, if life was fair, Jose Bautista would have been the difference in this game played played beneath a sky full of the leftover, dreary, gloom of March.

In case you missed it this offseason, in an act of supreme pettiness Oriole GM Dan Duquette publicly announced that he had advised Jose Bautista’s agent that Baltimore was not interested in signing Jose because Oriole fans don’t like him. This of course was complete crap. Duquette’s foray into tiny talent time grandstanding  also came across as kicking a man when he was down given how Bautista’s free agency was going/not going at the time. But justice/karma/revenge is a dish best served when you can locate it and it didn’t appear to be in the house early this Monday afternoon as Baustista popped out to the catcher with the bases loaded in the fifth and struck out with Josh Donaldson on first and none out in the seventh.

On the mound the early part of the game was a matchup of contrasts with Kevin Gausman’s fastball touching the upper 90’s (at least that’s what Pat Tabler said, there was no velocity readings being provided on the Jays feed) while Marco Estrada (shouldn’t someone have given him the nickname “Ponch” by now?) continued to illustrate everything you and I don’t know about pitching by beguiling Oriole hitters with his usual mix of material, pretty much all of which seems to reside beneath the 90 MPH parallel.

Through five innings the score was 2-1 Baltimore.

Pat Tabler the Good– Colour commentator and bases loaded specialist, Pat Tabler, points out in the sixth that catcher Russ Martin and Ponch (he didn’t call Estrada “Ponch” I’m just pointing out that he could have and perhaps should have), sensing Oriole hitters were keying on Estrada’s changeup, appeared to have adjusted to throwing more fastballs. Chris Davis strikes out on a high fastball moments later.

Pat Tabler the Bad– In Kevin Pillar’s first at bat Buck Martinez and Pat go on about Pillar’s new, more patient, approach at the plate. Pillar proceeds to take two strikes and barely hold up on a pitch way off the plate before meekly grounding a pitch (again well outside and in the dirt for good measure) to the right side of the infield. Despite this out Pat Tabler says, “That’s what I’m talking about!”

Pat Tabler the Vindicated– Kevin Pillar walks in his next at bat.

Pat Tabler’s Poetry Goes Unrealized– To start Pillar’s at bat in the eighth Pat comments somewhat poetically that Pillar looks, “nice and quiet,” in the batter’s box. Moments later Pillar’s bat goes flying into the crowd down the thirdbase line on two consecutive pitches

The Jays tied it in the sixth after Buck “In My Mind” Martinez’s (and my mother’s) favourite player, “Baby Face,” Ezequiel Carrera ripped a pitch off the first bag into right to score Steve Pearce.

The game marched on tied. The ninth was the next act in the Jose Bautista-Baltimore Orioles love story as with runners on 1st and 2nd and one out, Bautista grounded into a double play to end the inning. Bottom of nine though Joey Bats put his glove to work with a great catch on a slicing line drive by Joey Rickard for the second out  followed by Bautista popping up to throw to Steve Pearce at first to double off Wellington Castillo.

Jays Pen verus O’s Pen– As the game progressed there were multiple shots of the men warming up in the bullpen and I began to notice a distinct difference in how the two teams’ relievers visually strike the viewer, as in, if I had to choose someone, simply based on how the players physically appear out in the bullpen, someone to pitch in a baseball game, I’d choose Baltimore’s relievers, however, if I had to choose someone to be my Uncle AND be my partner in a three legged race I’d pick the Blue Jays with Uncle JP Howell, Uncle Joe Smith, and Uncle Aaron Loup (the uncle you can’t really count on) all looking the part of three legged race gamers. 

Justin Smoak (that’s Smoak with a “K”) lead off the 11th, by doing what Justin Smoak does, he struck out. (In other news up is still up and down is still down). Smoak’s continued foray into non-contact baseball was followed by a timely reminder from Oriole’s third baseman Manny Machado that there are beautiful things in this world as he laid out to his right to stab a hard hit ball from Devon Travis, throwing out the Jays second baseman from his knees no less. Josh Donaldson came to the plate and lined a long single to left. This brought up Jose Bautista. Again.

Bautista grounded out.

Bottom of eleven, Jason Grilli did one of the things Jason Grilli does a lot that, nonetheless, Pat Tabler and Buck Martinez hadn’t yet mentioned in their commentary through Grilli’s inning of work- He gave up a home run.

And thus ended a pretty great baseball game.

Welcome back.


Most disingenuous headline of the week comes from the home of the disingenuous headline- TSN, with, “Jays listening to offers for Upton.” Not surprisingly Melvin Upton was released a day later. 

The You Had a Whole Off Season and This is the Choice You Gave Yourself!?!?! Non-Award goes to the Jays management who found themselves deciding between Melvin Upton and Ryan Goins for the 25th spot on their roster coming out of spring training. In related news the Silly Richard Griffin-esque Thoughts Award goes, once again, to Richard Griffin for this bit of sports commentary, “If it did come down to a choice between Upton and Ryan Goins for the final roster spot, Goins earned it because he is moving towards being a classic utility man, a move that will prolong his major-league career. He handled first base deftly in spring training, while still excelling at second base and shortstop. He can play left field.” Speaking of Ryan Goins and First Base, here’s the thing, if pressed, I could probably spin around a pole a few times, it bears noting though that absolutely nobody should be forced to watch this and I sure as hell shouldn’t be employed in that capacity.