Tag Archives: Jayson Nix

Lunchbox Hero and the Safety Squeezers

One game can make all the difference, can’t it? Coming into tonight’s game against the Yankees, it seemed like people were fixated on the losses to the Red Sox, the slumps the Jays’ sluggers were going through and John Farrell’s seeming insistence on using Octavio Dotel against left-handed batters.

I tuned into tonight’s game during the eighth inning. I can’t speak to what happened before that, but what I saw afterward was pretty inspiring.

The bottom of the ninth. Down two to the Yankees. Mariano Rivera on the mound. This is not a situation many teams have been able to overcome. Ever.

Over the course of his career, Rivera had 566 saves in 615 opportunities. That’s a 92% success rate. That’s a pretty slim chance the Jays are going to win.

But win they did.

Yunel Escobar, Jose Bautista, Adam Lind: They all reached base. Travis Snider did not.

Escobar scored. Lind moved Bautista to third. Literally everybody’s favourite Blue Jay (if that’s not true, it should be) Johnny Mac comes to the plate.

Beginning the season, when the Jays were doing great, fans everywhere seemed excited about the running game and the willingness of the team under Farrell to take chances. Then, when the Jays started losing, the running game was the first target of many fans’ ire (and, in some cases, rightfully so.)

People criticized Cito Gaston for sticking to his guns, but Farrell does that, too. Last night, with the Prime Minister of Defence at the dish and down a run to the Yankees with Rivera on the mound, John McDonald executed a perfect bunt and Bautista came home to score on a safety squeeze.

Let me say that again: John McDonald laid down a perfect safety squeeze bunt against Mariano Rivera to tie the game.

It was a thing of beauty.

Of course, asking for Rivera to take the loss in addition to blowing the save would be too much, and he got out of the inning. Extras. A good enough top of the 10th from Jon Rauch and the Jays again got a chance to end the game.

Ivan Nova comes in and Edwin Encarnacion immediately singles. Jayson Nix and Escobar proceed to hit deep fly outs, but E5, often slammed for a lack of hustle, runs his little heart out on those two flies. The man wanted to win, wanted to be the one to score the run that capped the comeback against the Yankees.

Two outs and Snider, who was 0-for-5 in the game had struck out three times — once apparently breaking his bat over his knee in frustration — comes to the plate. The same Snider who came into the game with a slash line of .151/.250/.245 and who seems to have been touted as a “bust” by impatient Leafs fans for years now.

But since you’re reading this, I assume you’re not one of the Snider doubters.

Snider comes to the plate and what does he do? He justifies your love.

Lunchbox Hero.

If you read this hoping for some kind of insight why what happened happened, I’m sorry. Sometimes when you witness something great, you just need to get it down.

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Nixing E5

Watching the Jays lose last night, I came to a realization. It’s probably not what you’d expect from someone watching a game like that. I didn’t realize that OHMYGODTHEBULLPENSUCKSWHAAAA or anything else alarmist that seems, based on my #Jays and #BlueJays searches on Twitter*, to be the common theme today.

(*And if you’re the sort who uses hashtags, I suggest you stick to #BlueJays, lest you get lost in all the chatter about Air Jordans.)

Bullpens are going to lose games, teams are going to blow big leads. It sucks, but it’s a 162-game season. These things happen and I can basically guarantee the Jays will be on the opposite end of games like this before the season comes to an end.

When Toronto bought Jayson Nix just before the season began, I wasn’t really moved in either direction. “It’s a depth move,” I thought. “Nix is just a warm body to provide some protection in case of injury/whatever.”

I don’t think I was wrong to think those things, but…

Nix has played pretty well so far this season. Small samples sizes to be sure, but his OPS is at 1.058 right now. According to Fangraphs, he’s amassed 0.4 WAR through just 8 games. Doesn’t seem like much, but extrapolate it over a whole season and he’s putting up goddamn superstar WAR numbers at that rate.

Now, obviously, Nix is incredibly unlikely to keep playing at this level throughout a whole season. And that’s why I’ve been skeptical of the amount of playing time he’s received so far.

But then it happened.

Leading off the bottom of the third inning, Ichiro (!) hit a weak grounder to third. Ichiro (!) specializes in turning hits like these into, well, hits.

Nix those, fielded the ball cleanly, turned and fired a bullet to first, beating Ichiro (!) to the bag.

It was a nice defensive play and the chances Edwin (E5) Encarnacion makes that throw cleanly are slim to none. Nix made it look easy.

And that’s when I realized that I’m more than happy to see Nix man third every day until he proves he can’t.

With Nix fielding and hitting well, E5 not fielding well and Juan Rivera playing like a turd, it seems pretty clear to me what needs to happen: Nix plays third, E5 DH’s and Rivera rides the pine.

I understand the argument that Rivera needs to play so he can raise his value and become possible trade bait. But just because I understand it, doesn’t mean I like it. I’d much rather see the Jays use a better lineup than handicap their chances at a win in the hopes that maybe someday somebody will take their unwanted player.

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