It has been immensely enjoyable for me to watch the Red Sox fall on their faces thus far in the 2011 season.
That being said I was extremely worried Boston would simply put it all together this weekend and smash our beloved Jays. While the pessimistic Cole might have been worried of the Red Sox turning it on and perhaps sweeping Toronto, the optimistic Cole would want the Jays/Sox games to go something like this:
- Let the Sox get out to a lead. Get that “nation” energized that this might be the game where things are different, where they get it turned around and right all their wrongs. (Check! Some early shakiness from Brett Cecil stakes Boston to a 3-0 lead)
- Comeback, baby! There’s no better win to watch as a Jays fan than a comeback win, in my opinion. What’s better than a comeback win? One performed against a team who is 2-9 and has a panicking fanbase that will start booing anything in red the minute it does not execute (Check! Jays draw even at 3-3 and then put up a four-spot to go up 7-3)
- I hate Bobby Jenks. I don’t know the man personally and I’m sure he’s a lovely human being, but I hate looking at him and I dislike watching him pitch. I am going to go ahead and assume it has everything to do with that atrocious facial hair he somehow wakes up to see everyday in the mirror and believes is a good idea. Seriously, is there no one in this man’s life who can tell him he shouldn’t aspire to look like Colonel Sanders? He reminds me of that kid in middle school who can grow facial hair before anyone else, but they just end up with some of the grossest looking mustaches imaginable. That same person ends up becoming a 30-year-old burnout who hangs out at the gas station in his souped up Chevy Impala and still tries to go to parties with high school kids. On the other hand, Bobby Jenks is a millionaire professional athlete, shave your goatee, you fool. When Boston signed him, I made the comment that Boston now had the douchiest back end of the bullpen in Major League Baseball, thanks in large part to Jenks joining Papelbon. Phew, OK, rant over. Little did I know I had so much pent-up rage towards Bobby Jenks. At any rate, this was the long way of saying a game where Jenks gets lit up would be just an absolutely perfect scenario. (Check! Jenks faces six hitters, retires only one, leaves the field to the boos of the Fenway “faithful”)
- Let the Red Sox make a little comeback. Make their fanbase think maybe NOW the team has it all figured out and will turn the game and their season around. (Check! Zep-Chin-Skee and Jannsen combine to let Boston back into the game, 7-6). But fear not gentle reader, because the next step is the best one …
Slam the door shut. Oh, and maybe make the $142-million man Carl Crawford 0-for-5 on the game in the process (Check! Jon Rauch comes in and throws a spotless ninth to preserve the 7-6 lead)
So, in conclusion, last night’s series opener went about as well as it could for a Jays fan who loves watching the Red Sox fail (and also has an unhealthy dislike of Bobby Jenks). About the only way I could have written up a better script for last night’s game would be to have the Jays come back from down five runs down in the 9th by lining eight consecutive balls off of Jonathan Papelbon’s face.
Let’s hope it all continues today with an (on paper) mismatch of Jo Jo Reyes versus Josh Beckett. And by mismatch, I mean in favour of the Jays, because the Red Sox are 2-10 and are awful, zing! No, but really, Beckett is one of the few Red Sox who hasn’t been terrible thus far this season, although he has an ERA over 7 against the Jays through his career.
Now, because I’m on a roll with bullet points, here are some random observations:
- It was impressive to see Brett Cecil calm down and retire 11 straight, after allowing two homeruns, but I’m still not convinced with him this season. I think he was more the beneficiary of a struggling Boston lineup than he was a success due to good pitching. I can’t really recall if this is the same as last season, but he just doesn’t seem to be mixing speeds all that effectively this year. His cutter and four seamer are about the same speeds and he seems to be throwing them quite often and relying much less on his changeup (which is a good deal slower speed) and curveball – he does, throw a curveball, does he not?? This year he just seems to need to rely on missing barrels in order to have success. From what I remember of his pitching last year, he had much nastier stuff and was doing a lot better job keeping hitters off balance.
- The Blue Jays have 16 stolen bases this season and have only been caught stealing three times. In the entirety of 2010, the team stole only 58 bases and were caught 20 times. It’s quite clear this is going to be a different offense than last year and the good part (from the small sample size thus far) is that it seems the stolen bases are coming at times when they have a high likelihood of success, rather than just turning everyone at loose with reckless abandon. If Toronto continues to succeed at such a high rate with stolen bases, it will be a true asset.
- I believe in John Farrell. It’s early going yet, but it’s just so refreshing to have a manager who, for lack of a better term, seems “new age” in his approach. Meaning, he actually pays attention to statistics and advanced metrics and tailors the management of his team to those ideals. I may just be jumping to conclusions, but would anyone be surprised if they found out Cito Gaston doesn’t even know what OPS is? I would not be shocked. You just don’t get that same sense of statistical and managerial incompetence from Farrell. On that note, I also want to believe his history with Boston and its pitchers will be jedi-like in passing along information to the hitters, allowing the Jays to mash the Red Sox all season.
- On a baseball betting quick sidenote. Despite the Red Sox being baseball’s worst team (record wise), the Jays have been huge underdogs in the odds for the first two games of this series (likely due to the starting pitching matchups). If the Jays can win even 3-of-4 this weekend, I should be back in great shape on my betting every Jays game challenge.