The book on Brandon Morrow is that he’s a dominant pitcher from the windup who falls apart when he has to pitch from the stretch with men on base. There’s some evidence to back this up. Early on in this season, the book on the Rays is that they can get men on base, but once they do, they fall apart. There’s very little evidence to suggest that this is a chronic flaw. Still, it stacks up as a [flawed] immovable object versus a [flawed]irresistible force. Who would win?
Well, to start the first inning, Desmond Jennings hit a dribbler up the middle, but Ben Zobrist made the mistake of homering to clear the bases (rally killer), and Morrow was able to get out of the inning (although Longoria did send Bautista crashing into the wall to make a double saving catch).
In the bottom of the first, we had our first look at another interesting battle: David Price’s power against Jose Bautista’s power. With a man on second, Price started with a fastball in for a called strike. He then threw a beautiful changeup right on the outside bottom corner for another called strike, sending Bautista into a fit of obscenities. Now Bautista was angry, and I don’t like him when he’s angry. He fouled off an inside fastball, and hit a fastball that must have been a foot off the plate straight up the middle for a single, scoring the run. That’s plate coverage. He’s the best hitter in the world.
After Encarnacion lined a pitch the other way for a single, Price got mad. I doubt the Blue Jays like him when he’s mad. He upped his velocity to 97 mph to strike out Adam Lind on a good fastball looking, and then absolutely overpowered Brett Lawrie on three straight fastballs.
More Titanic Matchups below the jump.
- For the rest of the game, Price mostly avoided Bautista, walking him twice. Maybe that’s smart, but it’s also boring. On the day, Price threw 40 fastballs, 18 cutters, 17 changeups, and 2 curves, with only a 6.67% swinging strike percentage. He only struck out three batters, but he only walked Jose Bautista. To my eyes, he never really seemed threatened (run support will do that).
- In the top of the second, Joyce hit a double off the wall and was moved to second by a Jose Molina groundout. Sean Rodriguez took a good big swing but hit a weak flyball into short left field. If you thought Vogt’s arm looked bad in left last night, Rajai Davis decided to show us all what an actual bad arm looks like (this was the much anticipated battle of the Liliputians). Unlike Vogt, who had a bad, high hop and no momentum, Davis had a full head of steam to set himself up for the throw, but still five-hopped it home, allowing Joyce to score easily.
- In the bottom of the second, Price got two easy outs, and then with an 0-2 count to Jeff Mathis gave up a home run. He then turned to the camera and tipped his hat to all the trolls in the world, mouthing, "This one’s for you."
- In the top of the third, Pena hit a towering fly ball to the opposite field, sending Davis into the wall. It’s very possible that the Blue Jays are cheating, turning on the blowers in the outfield when the Rays are up to bat. I’ll start the rumor.
- On the game, Joyce was 3-5 with two doubles and a homerun, all against Brandon Morrow. He’s just getting warmed up for May. I can’t wait.
- Sean Rodriguez followed Joyce’s home run with one of his own, out to left center. It was a good job against a tough (if tiring) righty.
- In the bottom of the sixth inning, Price got two quick outs, and then allowed a single to Colby Rasmus. He was not laboring. He looked like he was in a groove. But he had thrown 106 pitches, so Maddon pulled him for Wade Davis, who quickly dismembered Mathis with a filthy slider.
- Why do we keep bunting with two strikes (Pena did it this game)? Do we not know the rule?
- Wade Davis, Joel Peralta, and J.P. Howell all did their job well today, each walking none and striking out two (in 1.2, .2, and 1 innings, respectively). I thought Peralta looked like the Peralta of old, pounding the zone with fastballs and splitters. He struck out Eric Thames on a pitch that I'm sure made Cody Ross flip his bat. Nice job, Jose Molina.
- The Rays piled on 6 runs in the ninth inning against Carlos Villanueva, the Jays’ long man. The "proving that you can’t predict an at-bat by the previous several award" goes to Luke Scott, who hit a grand slam after looking absolutely horrible in three of his previous four at bats.
- Also in the 9th, Villanueva hit Molina, almost in the chest. Molina was real pissed, and while he slowly walked to first, he darkly twirled the bat for a while, as if he was considering whether he should beat Villanueva into a bloody pulp. I don't know if I've ever seen someone so teddy-bearish look so scary.
This was a friendly reminder that the season is not over. Sometimes the wins come easy. Today we were on to Morrow, now on to tomorrow.