Jays break out of Baltimore slump to take series
Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Mark Buehrle (56) throws the ball in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. (Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports)
As one might expect in an 11-3 win a lot of good things happened for your Toronto Blue Jays.
Mark Buehrle had another strong outing (seven innings, one run).
Edwin Encarnacion drove in his first two runs of the season.
Colby Rasmus made a fine running grab on the track and hit a moon shot of a home run.
Brett Lawrie made like Brooks Robinson one inning and Frank Robinson the next with a key home run.
The Jays took batting practice in the morning and, on Sunday afternoon, had a season-high 17 hits.
Yet, the best thing to happen before 39,281 fans at Camden Yards?
“The squeeze ... without a doubt. It extended the lead to 3-1 in the fourth inning,” said Adam Lind.
Now, for loyal Jays followers, the term “squeeze” might be a foreign one.
A squeeze happens when a runner breaks from third base as the pitcher delivers the ball. If the batter bunts the ball down in fair territory, it’s an automatic run.
It’s a dangerous play, too. Miss the ball and the runner is out by three country miles at the plate. Pop up the bunt and it’s a double play.
And 780,000 arm-chair managers ask what dolt came up with that dumb idea anyway?
It’s the reason some teams use the word “note” as key verbal indicator from coach to base-runner ... ‘note’ as in suicide note. For, in baseball terms, it’s do or die.
Manager John Gibbons flashed the squeeze sign to third base coach Luis Rivera, who relayed it to Encarnacion standing on third and batter Jonathan Diaz.
Gibbons could not remember the previous time he’d called it. Former general manager J.P. Ricciardi and ex-manager Cito Gaston were both anti-bunting, so Gibbons most recent squeeze may have been either at double-A San Antonio or a Sunday morning grapefruit.
“Edwin may have left a little early, their guy was able to elevate the ball,” said Gibbons.
Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez got the ball up into the eyes of Diaz, who still was able to get the bunt down.
Diaz said: “It was like, ‘whew!’” on bunting the high pitch. Replays showed the eyes on the 5-foot-8 Diaz as wide as grandma’s special Sunday dinner meat platters.
“That play seemed to loosen things up, relax everyone,” said Brandon Morrow. “Then, hitters began to feed off each other.”
Lawrie made a back-handed spinarama play to throw out Jonathan Schoop for the first out of the fifth.
“Same sort of play in Montreal I made off Eric Young,” said Lawrie, who cut his right elbow on the diving stop.
Hitting .091 entering the game. Lawrie homered to left with one out in the sixth.
After Ryan Goins singled to chase Jimenez, the free-agent the Orioles signed to a four-year, $50-million contract. By the end of the day he was 0-3 with a 7.31 ERA.
Melky Cabrera doubled, extending his hit streak to a club-record 13 games and Rasmus added a two-run single. Lind singled and Encarnacion followed with a two-run double to left. Encarnacion, without an RBI until Gibbons dropped him from the cleanup spot to the No. 5 hole on Sunday, had a three-hit day.
“They’re not throwing me inside any more,” said Encarnacion. “I have to make the adjustment. I try to go to right field and pop the ball up. Hitting to right, that’s not my approach. I have to take my walks like Jose Bautista.”
Bautista hit a three-run homer in the eighth, his fifth home run of the season.
On the afternoon the Jays pounded out seven extra-base hits — three in the five-run sixth — their first series win in Baltimore since September of 2012.
Infielder Maicer Izturis tripped going down the dugout steps before the game began and didn’t take the field in the bottom of the first. “It happened right after the anthem singer finished,” said Izturis who was supposed to be in the starting lineup. He suffered a left knee sprain after feeling his knee pop twice and is headed for an MRI on Monday. He was replaced in the game by Diaz ... Infielder Munenori Kawasaki will join the Jays in Minneapolis after hitting .240 with one RBI in eight games at triple-A Buffalo. The Jays think that both Goins and Diaz are better defensive shortstops than Kawasaki ... The Jays also demoted catcher Erik Kratz (.200 2-for-10, one homer, four RBIs in six games) to Buffalo ... Recalled from Buffalo was lefty J.A. Happ (0-0, 1.93, one run in 4.2 innings in one start).
Happ had been re-habbing a
back injury. Since he has more
than five years experience the Jays can’t keep him at triple-A once he’s healthy and his rehab assignment is completed.
No sponge needed
The hardest thrower Dioner Navarro ever caught?
“Aroldis Chapman. He was 103 mph last year,” Navarro said of the Reds closer. “How hard was Buehrle throwing?”
Josh Thole, standing at a nearby locker, said he saw 85s and one 86 on the board during Buehrle’s seven innings.
So, did Chapman’s changeup have more velocity that Buehrle’s fastball?
“He didn’t throw many changeups,” said Navarro.
RASMUS: 'BUNT TO BOMB'
Come along, now, as we try to follow the logic of Colby Rasmus’ hitting approach.
On Saturday, the Blue Jays were down to their final strike in the ninth when Rasmus hit a solo, game-tying homer off Orioles closer Tommy Hunter to force extras.
Hitting in the No. 2 hole in his first at-bat on Sunday, Rasmus bunted a fastball, the third pitch from Ubaldo Jimenez, down the third base line. The ball rolled foul.
Why does a hitter with a home-run stroke bunt?
“I didn’t think they’d throw me a fastball,” said Rasmus while eating a bowl of cereal after the Jays 11-3 win. “I figured they would throw me splitters, that they wouldn’t throw my fastballs. Splitters are easier to bunt than a fastball. I was just playing ball. It almost stayed fair.”
But it didn’t.
So, Rasmus got back into the box, down 1-2 in the count to Jimenez.
Three pitches later, he hit a 3-2 pitch (an inside fastball) which carried the right-field fence landing on Eutaw St.
“I keep trying to make adjustments, relax and play,” said Rasmus, who left in the bottom of the sixth when his hamstring tightened up.
Rasmus became only the 78th player, and 47th visiting player, to reach the street. He was the fourth Jays hitter (the previous was Eric Thames in 2012) to deposit a ball on to Eutaw.
“He went from bunt to bomb in three pitches,” said catcher Dioner Navarro.
Whether the logic — bunting after hitting a home run — was flawed, the eventual result certainly was not.