Jays 6, Twins 3

Wednesday, April 05 2006 @ 05:00 AM EDT

Contributed by: Pistol

You couldn't ask for a better opening day matchup - the two best pitchers in the American League squaring off against one another.

Halladay won the Cy Young in 2003 and was on pace to win the award again in 2005 prior to being Menched. Santana won the Cy Young in 2004 and should have won the award last year except that the AL voters haven't stepped into the 21st Century yet.

While both are great pitchers Santana and Halladay get there in different ways. Santana is an extreme fly ball pitcher (0.8:1 in his career) who strikes out a shade over a batter an inning. Halladay doesn't strike out nearly as many batters but is an extreme groundball pitcher (2.2:1 in his career). Both walk very few batters although Halladay is a bit more stingy.

The Jays started their right handed lineup against Santana, which is also their defensive team. Cat, and Hinske are out; Johnson and Rios are in.

Top of the first inning:

* Stewart singles to left on a 1-0 pitch
* Castillo sacrifices 5-3; Overbay makes a nice scoop on the play
* Overbay boots an easy Mauer grounder
* White hits a deep fly ball that Wells runs down with a leaping catch crashing into the wall. Stewart scores on the sac fly
* Hunter grounds out 4-3

The Overbay error led to an unearned run. Halladay got ahead of hitters and only gave up the one single to Stewart, although White made a loud out on his fly ball.

14 total pitches through one.

Bottom of the first inning:

* Johnson grounds out weakly, 1-3
* Rios hits a line drive up the middle
* Wells pops up down the first base line on a full count
* Santana strikes out Glaus on a fastball up and outside

Santana only gave up the single to Rios but the Jays worked the ABs forcing Santana to throw 19 pitches.

19 total pitches through one.

Top of the second inning:

* Hill makes a nice backhanded play to retire Morneau
* Adams liked the Hill backhand so much he tried one of his own to retire old friend Tony Batista
* Another groundball to Hill retires Jason Kubel

Vintage Halladay - 3 batters, 3 groundballs, 3 outs.

12 pitches, 26 pitches through two.

Bottom of the second inning:

* Overbay strikes out quickly - he's 0-9 against Santana with 8 Ks lifetime
* Hillenbrand puts the 6th pitch in play, hitting a chopper back to Santana
* Molina grounds out to first
Santana has an easy inning.

14 pitches, 33 pitches through two.

Top of the third inning:
* Castro hits a sharp single back up the middle on the first pitch
* Stewart hits into a textbook 6-4-3 double play
* Luis Castillo strikes out quickly

A leadoff single was quickly erased - the benefits of groundballs shine through.

7 pitches, 33 pitches through three.

Bottom of the third inning:

* Hill lines out softly to right field
* Russ Adams draws a walk
* Johnson fists a broken bat single over SS
* Rios gives the ball a ride to the wall in right center - Adams advances to third
* Wells falls behind on a couple of changeups and then swings at a ball in the dirt to strike out
Santana had to work a bit that inning but escaped unscathed.

15 pitches, 48 pitches through three.

Top of the fourth inning
* Mauer hits an easy grounder to short and Overbay can't handle the throw. Mauer kicks it into right field (accidentally) and advances to second
* White ground outs to third and Mauer is forced to hold
* Hunter nubs one back to Halladay - again Mauer holds
* Morneau puts a bad swing on a pitch that rides in on him for the K

Halladay is in complete control right now. Every out has been a groundball or strikeout with the exception of the White flyball to Wells in the first inning.

14 pitches, 47 pitches through four (33 strikes).

Bottom of the fourth inning:

* Glaus goes the other way on a fastball low and away lining a double down the right field line
* Overbay snaps his hitless streak against Santana lining the first pitch to left field.
* Hillenbrand lifts a flyball deep enough to right to allow Glaus to tag up and score
* Molina goes off the facing of the FIFTH DECK off of Santana right down the left field line for a two run shot. on a hanging low and inside pitch
* Hill grounds out 2-3
* Adams reaches first when Castillo doesn't field the grounder cleanly (Blyleven claims Adams should be out because he turned toward second in fair territory, however, you have to make an attempt towards second to be able to be tagged out if I remember back to my Bath Ruth umpiring days).
* Stewart makes an easy catch look very difficult on a Johnson flyball to the track in left.
The Jays got to Santana that inning. Glaus, Overbay and Molina all made great contact, and even Adams had a good AB that could have easily been a hit.

22 pitches, 70 pitches through four (50 strikes).

Top of the fifth inning:
* Batista hits a lazy fly ball to left
* Kubel grounds out to Hill
* Castro grounds out to Overbay
Doc makes easy work of the bottom of the Twins order. He looks like he can go 8 innings tonight.

6 pitches, 52 pitches through five.

Bottom of the fifth inning:

* Rios continues to make good contact lining out to left
* Wells singles to right
* Glaus pops a pitch to center
* Overbay flies out to left field
Santana got back on track getting three fly ball outs.

11 pitches, 81 pitches through five.

Top of the sixth inning:
* Stewart lines a ball back up the middle
* Castillo battled, but struck out looking on a close pitch
* Mauer grounds out 1-3 - Halladay bobbled it, otherwise it was a likely double play
* White strikes out looking
Another easy one for Halladay, although the Twins went to deeper counts that inning. Halladay has given up just 3 hits and no walks.

19 pitches, 71 pitches through six.

Bottom of the sixth inning:

* Hillenbrand lines a single up the middle
* Molina golfed a ball past Batista for a single
* Hill grounds into a 5-4-3 double play on a close play at first
* Adams scores Hillenbrand by slapping a single to right - Adams has looked good against Santana tonight
* Johnson gets another single, Santana is out of gas and gets pulled for Rincon
Final line for Santana - 5.2 innings, 10 hits, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts, and 4 earned runs. 98 total pitches. The Twins broadcast notes that this is the first time that Santana has given up at least 10 hits in a game.
* Rios beats out a ground ball to 2nd base
* Wells strikes out

Top of the seventh inning:
* Hunter lined out to left
* Morneau grounds out to first
* Batista knocks out a home run to left - all or nothing with him
* Kubel grounds out 4-3
Halladay missed the location on the Batista home run but otherwise is still in control. One more inning should be good with the light hitters coming up and then turn it over to Ryan for the ninth.

9 pitches, 80 pitches through seven.

Bottom of the seventh inning:

* Glaus strikes out
* Overbay grounds out 6-3
* Hillenbrand goes the other way for a single
* Molina grounds out to second

Top of the eight inning
* Lew Ford pinch hits and grounds out to Hill
* Stewart hits what looks like a lazy fly ball that went out of the park - 3 for 4 with a HR tonight
* Castillo hits a light grounder back to Halladay.
Gibbons doesn't take any chances and brings in the SS Loogy to face Mauer. Mauer has no career HRs against LH pitching.
* Mauer grounds out 3-1.
Halladay's final line - 7.2 innings, 5 hits, no walks, 4 Ks, and 3 runs (2 earned, both on home runs). 84 total pitches, 64 strikes. A very good and efficient start.

Bottom of the eight inning: (Crain in for Rincon)

* Hill grounds out to third - the only Jay to go hitless in the opener
* Another grounder - Adams grounds out to short
* Johnson battles and ends up going the other way to right for his third hit of the night.
* Rios hits an opposite field 2 run HR
* Wells makes good contact but Hunter runs it down in center
A great two out rally - Johnson battled before getting a single and then Rios provided some nice insurance with the home run. An opposite field HR no less.

Top of the ninth inning: (Ryan in for the SS Loogy and has the crowd buzzing. Ryan blew three games against the Twins last year.)
* White lines out to Glaus
* Hunter strikes out
* Ryan made Morneau look silly striking him out to end the game

The pitching matchup was going strong for the first few innings before the Jays got to Santana in the fourth. I knew Molina had some pop and hit lefties great last year, but I never expected him to hit the facing of the 5th deck off of Santana. Halladay pitched great through 6 innings getting groundball after groundball with great control (no walks in the game). He seemingly tired a bit in the 7th and 8th giving up home runs to Stewart and Batista but for the first start of the year you can't ask for too much more than he gave.

Overall this was a fine start for the Jays and just about what you would ask for in an opener - a strong Halladay start, hitting up and down the lineup, a couple timely home runs and BJ Ryan closing the door. Alex Rios looked great at the plate getting three hits, including the insurance home run, and making good contact on the times the Twins got him out. I thought Aaron Hill looked pretty comfortable at second and made a few nice plays in the game.

Take that Gleeman!