|Aug 7, 2010|
Over the past two days, I have watched two baseball games that are the absolute quintessential of why I love this sport so much. Yes, the Red Sox and Yankees are playing an important series at the Stadium, but I have not seen a minute of either of those games as they have become less about baseball, which has not been very good recently between those two teams, and more about the rivalry, which has been so overblown that it’s impossible to enjoy the contests.
Anyway, the series between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays has been much more entertaining, specifically the games from yesterday and today, although they were each on complete opposite ends.
Yesterday, the Blue Jays won the game 17-11, which may not seem like it was a good game based on the score, but it was incredibly entertaining. First, the Blue Jays hit eight home runs, six off of James Shields alone, which tied a modern-era record for most home runs off of one pitcher in a game, and increased their major-league-leading season home run total to 175, which is almost 30 higher than the next club.
[Editors note: I believe that the Blue Jays players have taken it upon themselves to try and hit a home run every time they come to the plate because they know that the only way they are going to win is to out slug the opponents; thus, while they lead MLB in home runs (175) and slugging (.463), they have the 6th worst batting average (.251), 4th worst on-base percentage (.314), and 4th fewest walks (317), which means they are playing only for power and not just to get on base.]
Second, the Jays’ minor-league call-up, JP Arencibia, who has been hyped up as a kind of wonder kid, hitting 31 bombs in AAA Las Vegas this year, hit a home run on the very first pitch of his very first at bat in the big leagues. The first pitch! He followed that up with a double in his second at bat, and single in his third at bat, and capped it with his second home run of the day and of his career. Truly amazing.
Third, even with a 17-7 lead going into the top of the ninth, you didn’t feel like the game was over, as the Rays scored 4 runs relatively easily and were only a few baserunners away from it being a save situation–even though the Jays had scored 17 runs!
|Aug 8, 2010|
But today’s game was totally different, even though it was the same two teams playing on the same field, just one day removed from a 28-run outburst.
With two outs in the top of the ninth, the Blue Jays starting pitcher, Brandon Morrow, was one out away from pitching the first no-hitter of his career, and fourth that the Rays would have been a part of this season! (The Rays lost two of the previous no-hitters, one of which was a perfect game). But with two outs, Evan Longoria hit it to the right side that ricocheted off the second baseman’s glove and into right field for the Rays’ first hit of the game, which was correctly ruled a hit and not an error.
Moreover, Morrow struck out 17 Rays hitters on his way to his first complete-game shutout of his career and was absolutely dominant. Also the only run of the game was scored in the first inning when Yunel Escobar moved from first to third on a ground out to the third baseman Longoria, which was one of the most gutsy and incredible base running plays I’ve ever seen. I mean, he went from first to third on an infield ground out. Talk about speed and guts. Two batters later Vernon Wells drove him in for the eventual game-winning run, which held up due to Morrow’s incredible pitching as the Jays won 1-0.
Anyway, sorry to gush so much about this great game, but you can’t possibly have any more diametrically opposing back-to-back games and be as thoroughly entertained as I was. So much so, that I had to write about it.