When you have a lineup that’s really struggling to score runs, a young pitcher with dynamite stuff who chooses this night to put it all together, and a home-plate umpire who doesn’t feel like squeezing the strike zone, this is the kind of result you’re going to get: a 6-0 whitewash by the Orioles of a Blue Jays ballclub that’s stumbling down the stretch.
Aside from a couple of happy debuts for Blue Jay rookies, it’s the sort of night where you tip your cap to the opposition and bundle three of your buddies into a cab downtown to The Crab Shack, or wherever it is ballplayers go for post-game beers in Baltimore after being shut out.
I didn’t get to see most of the game, so I can only make a few comments on what I did see.
* Ted Lilly’s stuff hasn’t disappeared – he was throwing some wonky and occasionally nasty stuff up to the plate there. But he apparently had no clue where most of his pitches were going, not surprising for someone who hasn’t faced a big-league lineup in two months. We should wait to see his final couple of starts before passing judgment, but if Lilly wanted to reassure the Blue Jays that he could be counted on for the 2006 rotation, this was an inauspicious start.
* This is what the Orioles have been looking for in Daniel Cabrera: a 6’7” power pitcher with a 95-mph heater and tremendous off-speed stuff who can throw everything for strikes. Cabrera brought neither this command nor this consistency to his previous three losses to the Blue Jays this season, when Toronto played him like a pinball machine. Tonight, he had the kind of game that gets O’s fans thinking about contention in '06.
* Shaun Marcum has to be the oldest-looking 23-year-old rookie I’ve ever seen. Seriously, he looks like he’s 35 and spent too many years playing under dim stadium lighting in Class-A Tuscaloosa. He needs to get his uniform pants tailored, too. Tough dude, though. That 11-pitch battle against Miguel Tejada with two on and two out was classic, something he can tell his kids about – he would not and did not give in. Great debut. Kudos to Tejada, too, for giving a little clap of acknowledgment to the pitcher after Marcum finally struck him out swinging. That guy’s a class act. Congrats to John-Ford Griffin as well, who doubled in his major-league debut.
* The Blue Jays should think seriously about resting their key players more often during the season in 2006. Vernon Wells received what I think was just his second non-childbirth-related game off all season last night, and I get the feeling Shea Hillenbrand could have used a few more games off in July and August as well. Hopefully, the Jays will have a stronger and deeper bench next season – with an 11-man pitching staff, if all goes well – so that the team can carry at least five bench players, each of whom can start 10-15 games without hurting the club.
I don’t have much else for you today – I’m doing the Game Report for tonight’s match as well, and I’ll be writing something more substantive for that one. So I’ll content myself today with trying to amuse you with this game I came across a couple of years ago. I refer to as “Luke Is,”after the McSweeney’s feature that inspired it. The author entered the phrase “Luke is” (in quotes) into Google and hit “Search.” The results formed the little mini-biography contained in the article. We did something a little similar here at Da Box a couple years ago.
So last night, I entered the full names of the Blue Jays’ regular starting lineup, along with their five-man rotation and closer, into the “Luke Is” machine. I then picked through the results to create little four-sentence mini-biographies of each player. The biographies bear only a glancing resemblance to the truth, of course, but then, so does the Internet – it’s really just a massive collection of opinions which may or may not have any grounding in reality.
The references I used come from all sorts of sources, different time periods, and occasionally refer to entirely different people. I’ll let you decide which are funny, which are dumb, and which have more truth to them than you might expect. And afterwards, you can insert anyone else’s name and come up with mini-bios of your own.
Russ Adams is
… struggling to find a comfort zone at shortstop and at the plate
… not intimidated by White Sox ace Jon Garland
… going to start seeing a lot more action against left-handers
… the executive director of the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability
Frank Catalanotto is
… day-to-day with a groin pull
… probably done for the season with a broken hand
… off the DL but not healthy enough to play in the outfield
… one of the nicest people I've ever come across
Vernon Wells is
… a steal at what he makes
… one of those players that puts up good stats but doesn't contribute very much to a team winning
… the mack diggity
… memorable as the villain, “Plug Head,” aided by Special Makeup Effects
Shea Hillenbrand is
… amazing. Can you imagine how hard it is to hit Major League pitching when you lack the fundamental ability to gauge the path of a pitched ball?
… not going to be able to put up the same numbers as Carlos Delgado did
… batting .402 and making better contact than Eva Longoria on a manhunt
… an All-Star third baseman
Corey Koskie is
… willing to re-sign with the Twins for less money
… a good guy who will be missed by the Twins and their fans
… the starting third baseman for the team he grew up watching
Gregg Zaun is
… from Catcher Gap: cheap-yet-overpriced shoddy merchandise subject to high demand from walk-in traffic customers who don't know any better
… a decent platoon player and could do well if used that way
… decent defensively and an underrated hitter
… enjoying perhaps his best season in the majors
Alex Rios is
… a STUD!
… on fire!!!!
… something to get very excited about
… a huge fan of Quiet Riot and it started with an album cover
Eric Hinske is
… named Rookie of the Year in the American League
… willing to move to first base to account for the signing of 3B Corey Koskie
… proving that his first season’s power numbers were an anomaly
… feeling left out
Orlando Hudson is
… a savvy, athletic player with a personality all his own
… worth the price of admission no matter where you sit for Blue Jays games
… day-to-day with a strained left hamstring
… ready to make himself a nutritious, refreshing fruit smoothie
Roy Halladay is
… the man every five days.
… the AL Cy Young Award winner
… the best pitcher in baseball right now
… expected to miss the remainder of the season due to a broken left leg
Ted Lilly is
… another NY Yankees rising star pitcher
… the one major injury concern in the A’s rotation
… headed to the DL
… like a box of chok’lits, you never know what you’re gonna get
Gustavo Chacin is
… surpassing expectations
… off to a blistering start in his rookie year
… not thinking about adding the AL Rookie of the Year award to the collection of trophies prominently displayed in his locker
… funny looking
Dave Bush is
… coming off an impressive rookie season and will likely open the 2005 season as the No. 4 starter in the rotation
… available for speaking engagements at any and all home inspection schools
… leaving logging to the experts
… co-author of the book Living with Florida's Atlantic Beaches: Coastal Hazards from Amelia Island to Key West
Josh Towers is
… Josh Towers, no more no less. Not that there's anything wrong with that
… starting to fulfill his promise
… perhaps one of the smartest pitchers in baseball
… taking nothing for granted
Miguel Batista is
… working on writing a novel about a kid serial killer
… pure poetry
… a mediocre pitcher, as a poet I don't waste my time reading anything he writes
… the last resort in Toronto's bullpen