Tag Archives: Yunel Escobar

Mike McCoy: MLB pitcher

Watching the Blue Jays get absolutely blown out by the Boston Red Sox while getting intermittently rained upon because the roof at the SkyDome is, inexplicably, open is not what I would call a day at the park (except for the fact that it is, you know, a day at the park).

When a game is so completely out of hand and there are no signs it’s going to get any better, my attention tends to wander. Hey, did you know that the windows in the SkyDome Hotel can be opened? I certainly didn’t. Some things snap me back to full attention though: A Jose Bautista at bat; an E5 home run YEscobar making up for his earlier NOcobar by snagging a hard-hit line drive; and Mike McCoy coming on to pitch the ninth, to name a few.

Yes, in case you’re one of the few who might be reading this who hasn’t yet heard, you read that right: Mike McCoy, utility infielder, pitched the ninth inning for Toronto and the results were not at all horrible. Hard to believe, I know, but there’s even video, though it’s not yet embeddable, so here’s some photographic evidence:

Crazy, right? It probably sent some kind of message from John Farrell to the Jays players (why hello there, Brett Cecil’s wife’s instant anger! And subsequent apology) and it definitely got what little of the crowd was left back into the game.

McCoy got a standing ovation with each out and novelty of the situation, he deserved it. The only Jays pitcher except for Jon Rauch (who only faced one batter) to have a clean slate during the game, McCoy was throwing strikes and mixing speeds like a champ!

From 85 mph heater to 60 mph “knuckler” (according to pitch f/x), how’s a hitter supposed to time that? Throw in his funky delivery and you’ve got a stud in the making!

And check it out! 75% of McCoy’s pitches were strikes! That’s 20% better than a certain somebody in the rotation.

In conclusion, McCoy should be Toronto’s closer and I need to get one of those rooms in the SkyDome Hotel. Thank you.

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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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Aaron Cibia!!1

When John Buck got hurt, the Tao of Stieb beat me to the punch on Twitter to register his excitement about J.P. Arencibia getting his shot with the big boys. For this, he was called an idiot. Who’s the idiot now?

Without doing any research at all, I’m going to go ahead and call Aaron Cibia’s MLB debut the best of any player ever.

In case you missed it, here’s the video of his amazing day at the plate.

The most impressive thing that Arencibia did, to me anyway, was to make the usually-moribund crowd at the SkyDome come to life. Sure, the 8 home runs the Jays hit in total likely had something to do with it as well, but make no doubt: Arencibia was the star of the show. Aaron Hill also hit two dingers, but didn’t earn a standing ovation for every at bat. The Catcher of the Future Now even earned a bit of a standing O when he flied out to right in his last at bat.

I stuck around for a little while after the game and I saw the nice moment J.P. had with his mom. Their hug was nice, but as I saw Mrs. Arencibia walking up the aisle, she was wiping tears from her eyes. As much as a scene involving two strangers being emotional about something that ultimately doesn’t matter can touch me (and that’s an unreasonable amount) it did. I’m happy as a Jays fan, but I’m even happier for J.P. and his mom.

One more thing

I usually watch the games from the 500 level. The seats are good enough and cheap enough that I’m more than happy to watch from above. Today though, I used my voucher from the relocated Phillies series and got a prime seat behind the Tampa dugout. Other than the Jays offensive masterpiece, the most enjoyable part of the day for me was watching Yunel Escobar play shortstop.

Watching from the 500s, you can see the great plays he makes. Watching close up, you can see how much fun he has doing it.

Great players are impressive, great players who play with a smile on their face are something else entirely. Escobar has fun out there and I love it. Watching him toy with B.J. Upton when Upton was on second was great fun for me and it looked like for both of them as well.

If Arencibia and Escobar are both here for the long haul (and there’s no reason they shouldn’t be), we Jays fans are going to be in for a real treat.

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About last night

Photo courtesy of Cubby-Blue by Tim Souers

Photo courtesy of Cubby-Blue by Tim Souers

Sure, the fashionable thing to do today is to blame the Jays as a team for blowing the game against the Royals last night. Toronto ran the bases like a pack of idiots, made questionable defensive decisions and the pitchers weren’t all that good either, so you can’t blame the loss on Kevin Gregg.

All of those things may be true, but I still blame Gregg.

And Cito.

Look, maybe the Blue Jays deserved to lose last night. But the fact is that they had the lead in the bottom of the 10th. Today, people seem happy to say “they deserved to lose!” but if the Jays hold on last night, today everybody’s saying “sometimes you need to win ugly. That’s the mark of a good team. This bodes well for the future!!1”

Anyway, the point is this: The Jays had the lead and 3G blew it. Uncle B.J.’s Wild Ride is only fun when the cars don’t come completely flying off the tracks.

Gregg couldn’t even hold on to the closer’s job last year IN THE NL CENTRAL. If Drew’s crystal ball is seeing things clearly, and I have no reason to believe it’s not, Cito needs to remove Gregg from the closer’s role about two months ago.

On the Yunibomber

Quoth Mike Wilner:

In the 7th, with two out and the tying run on third, Jason Kendall hit a ground ball into the 5-6 hole, past a diving Edwin Encarnacion.  YEscobar was there backing up, but for some reason he bare-handed the ball, again didn’t get much on the throw and again bounced it – but this time Overbay couldn’t make the scoop and the tying run scored.  If Escobar catches the ball with his glove, then he gets a better grip and has plenty of time to make a good, strong throw – the inning is over with the Jays leading 3-2.  Does that mean they win?  Not necessarily, because then Gregg comes in in the 9th instead of the 10th and who knows what happens, but Escobar needs to learn to make the safe, routine play when the razzle-dazzle isn’t necessary.

Normally I’m right there, nodding along to whatever Wilner’s on about. But this is different. I’ve watched this specific play about a dozen times now and, for the life of me, I cannot see how “making the safe play” leads to Yuni throwing out Kendall on this play. Escobar barehanded the ball because it was the only way he had a chance of making a play.

Seriously, watch the video. If Yuni gloves the ball and then has to transfer it to his throwing hand, does he come close to having a shot at the out?

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Alex Rios v2.0?

I’ve been working on a post about how I’m ready for the trades to begin. About how I’m ready for the roster to turn over, for the team to officially give up the chase for the playoffs this year and start really rebuilding.

I was hoping the Jays would move people like Bautista, Buck, Overbay and Gonzalez.

Especially Gonzalez.

Nothing against him personally, it’s just that I was hoping to see Johnny Mac on a daily basis again.

Well, I got my wish. Alex Gonzalez is gone. But, just like wishes granted that wish-granting monkey claw, the wish backfired. Johnny Mac isn’t going to get the daily start at shortstop.

Yunel Escobar is coming back. Not having more than basic cable means I don’t watch the ridiculously high amount of Braves games that I used to, so I don’t know much about him at all. General consensus seems to be that the Braves are selling low; that Escobar’s got a ton of talent — at the plate and in the field — but that he’s just having an off year.

Escobar’s also got the reputation of being a space cadet.

Alex Rios v2.0? If Toronto is to Escobar as Chicago is to Rios, I think we can all be pretty happy with this trade. (Except that we’re not going to see Johnny Mac on a daily basis.)

There were more parts to the trade!

Tim Collins is gone. The other two guys, I don’t really care about. I am sad to lose this great story though.

Collinsecum!!!1 no more.

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