Different day, same result
The Blue Jays offense has gone quiet against the unlikeliest of opponents: The Baltimore Orioles. Baltimore hasn’t been known for its pitching — or winning for that matter — during the past few years but so far against Toronto the club has done a pretty good job. The Orioles are 4-1 against the Blue Jays this season and in those four wins have limited Toronto to an average of 2.5 runs.
The results on Tuesday and Wednesday looked similar but in reality were much different. On Tuesday, Baltimore’s Tommy Hunter should never have been able to limit the Blue Jays to just one run. He left a lot of pitches up in the zone and seemed incapable of locating outside of harms way. But Toronto wasn’t able to take advantage as they consistently popped out or made weak contact and as a result Hunter was able to escape with a seemingly dominant win.
Jason Hammel, on the other hand, was impressive. He located well, mixed in two very solid offspeed pitches with a mid-90s fastball that seemed to overpower the Blue Jays’ offense for most of the game. On Tuesday, Baltimore got away with one but on Wednesday the club earned the victory with an impressive performance on the mound. That will happen from time to time but now the Blue Jays need to bounceback on Thursday to avoid the sweep and salvage what started off as an impressive 4-0 road trip against Kansas City.
Those are my two cents… now here are today’s leftovers. Also, don’t forget you can follow me on Twitter @gregorMLB
John Farrell (pre-game):
Thames pressing a little bit too much?
“That’s an ongoing conversation whether it’s early in the day, inbetween innings in the dugout, young players I think a lot of time are going to press maybe a little bit sooner than guys who have been through some spells during the course of their career. Most important thing is we’ve got to continue to express our belief and trust in their abilities and they as players. I think Eric can count on the fact that we’re going to be consistent with him and know that along the way he’s learning, he’s got less than a full season at the Major League level, and he’s learning what it takes to play at this level day in and day out. We haven’t lost faith in him, we know there are areas of work that are ongoing and that’s the case with everybody whether you’re an eight-year vet or a first-year player.”
How would you rate his defense?
“Overall, it continues to improve. His work is certainly committed to doing that and my reference point is a year ago at this time, where he was then and where he is now, and I think he is vastly improved because of the time spent with Torey Lovullo and we fully trust him in left field.”
Teaching opportunities for young players…
“They’re learning what their abilities are in given situations, what’s the energy level either at the plate or from the mound and that comes through experience and the more we can objective with our feedback, hopefully that learning curve is shortened.
“The greatest teacher that any of them have is right out there between those lines. Yeah, there is more of an urgency to win, we feel that, we want that and we’re going to battle with some guys that are on the short end of the experience stick. So there might be some growing pain with that but still they’re athletic, they’re energetic and they’re very talented.”
With all the young starters, can you compete at the same time as delivering those lessons?
“Yes, we can compete. Our challenges are to keep things in their proper perspective … Yeah we feel the urgency to win and compete and that’s no greater than the group that’s in the clubhouse and if we didn’t feel they had the talent and the ability we might not have that same optimistic view but all possess the ability to compete and contend in this division. They’re going to experience some first, there’s no doubt.
“Even coming out of the game the other night, Hutchison faced Chris Getz four times in that game. That’s the first time in his professional career that he’s faced one hitter four times. So a lot of these firsts are going to take place at the Major League level and it also provides teaching opportunities for all of us.”
Difference from last year…
“We’ve gone through a lot of change. Eighteen new names from a year ago at this time with an expanding group of core players, we’ve improved in a number of areas and through 17 games our starting rotation has done what we’ve asked and that’s work deep into games on a nightly basis. Our defense, particularly our infield defense, I think has improved drastically. So defense and pitching wise, we’re still finding out rhythm offensively yet we’re four in the leage in runs scored and we haven’t even yet, I think, clicked for any stretch of games.”
Pressing too much at the plate?
“It ebbs and flows a little bit. I think there are times when guys come to the plate, we’re in a one-run game and one swing of the bat can turn the scoreboard over, you might see that become a little bit bigger with the swing at times. But I think the fact is that we’ve drawn the third most walks in the American Legaue, we’re doing some things to build innings and create opportunities. Runs are still the most important thing and yet I’d like to think when the middle of the order becomes a little bit more consistent in the overall production we’ve got a chance to make some additional noise.”
Does that make you contemplate bigger changes to the lineup?
“I’m not going to say no but I think it’s important to know that we’re roughly 60 at-bats in for all of our regular players. By no means is it looking to create wholesale changes at this point, no. Guys have earned the right to be where they are in the lineup and while some guys creep up a little bit it’s not so much riding the hot hand, it’s looking at matchups and where guys have put themselves in the position to climb in the order somewhat.”
But you really need more from Bautista/Lind…
“It would be great for everyone to play to their capabilities. Sure, you’d like it to all happen all at once for 162 days, for 162 games, I wish it were like turning that microphone on and off but they’re human and things, like I said, ebb and flow.”
John Farrell (post-game):
“Hammel was outstanding tonight. He had three pitches for strike. He located well. We had the one opportunity in the fourth inning and it seems like now when we’ve been able to cash in some opportunities it has been the two-out hit and tonight in the fourth and again in the ninth we’re missing some opportunities but we’re not creating a whole lot either. They pitched very good again in the second game of this series.”
“Two solo home runs, typically you’re not going to say that that’s going to beat you but when you run up against the pitching that we have, it does. But I thought for the most part he threw the ball on the plate.”
Was it a matter of getting beat the pitcher or the bats going cold?
“You get a pitcher that’s 94-95 with two breaking balls for strikes. We’ll tip our hat to him tonight. We’re in a little bit of a dry patch right now, the last two nights. Not going to take anything away from their ability to pitch and how they’ve executed in these first two games.”
Drabek getting around the leadoff walks…
“When he missed, he didn’t try to do too much. He relied on his two-seamer to get a groundball double play on a couple of occasions. Again, he continues to be a work in progress but he’s doing some good things on the mound.”
“I let them back in the count on some of them and you have to make even a better pitch when you’re behind in the count. They just happened to get enough of them to get it out of here.”
Were you using the two-seamer for the double plays?
“Most of them, yeah. I have to give it to our guys again, they were in the right spots at the right times. Some of them were harder than others and they were able to make them.”
You threw the two-seamer last year as well, right? Did you just refine it in the offseason?
“I threw it last year. I tweaked it here and there in the offseason and it got a little bit better. I tend to use it a little bit more when I neeed it.”
More comfortable wth it now?
“I’m real comfortable with all of my pitches. It’s just trying to make sure you can get ahead and that was a key for me last start against them and kind of just let them back in it this time.”
Lack of offense putting more pressure on you guys?
“No, absolutely not. We have a great hitting club, today just happened not to score any but I’m not worried about them at all.”
Getting beat by pitching or bats going cold?
“Tonight was pitching. Hammel just had it, sometimes you don’t know what that is but it was coming out of his hand well, he was obviously very confident and feeling good and I think I can say it was his night.”
And last night?
“That was a tough travel. I’m not going to make that excuse all of the time but I think it felt like that a little bit. But, shoot, we won four games in Kansas City, we played really well, haven’t been blown out here just haven’t scored any runs or gotten any hits. But offenses do that and I think it’s just as important to look at positives like Kyle I thought threw the ball great. I think last night our pitching was phenomenal. That’s going to have to be consistent the whole year for us to compete and even when we’re not scoring runs it has been there.”
So you don’t think guys are pressing?
“It’s early in the year so you always want to get some hits and look up there and see good numbers and everything. But I think guys have been around long enough to kind of understand that’s baseball. It doesn’t take much, it takes a really good game, a couple of good games in a row and all of a sudden everything looks better. Batting averages fluctuate, it’s a pretty overrated stat anyways, but we’ll get our hits. “