The good and the bad of the Blue Jays home opener

Well, that was kind of a weird home opener, wasn’t it?
For everything there was to like, there seemed to be a caveat that left a sour taste in Jays fans’ mouths in their 2-1 home opener loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

RA Dickey got through six innings, only giving up two runs on three hits and striking out six. But….he walked five, and the two runs that did score came in on walks in the fourth inning when the Dickster walked three. He looked great early, and rebounded to have back-to-back three-up-three-down innings after the ugly fourth. And really, he minimized the damage enough that he deserved a win. But…again, five walks. Not good, especially considering he was entering 2015 with a goal of cutting down on those walks.

The bullpen shut the door in its three innings of work, keeping the Jays in it. But…Osuna gave up a couple of loud outs. The box score says four of Osuna’s six outs were flyouts to the outfield, and if memory serves at least two of them were warning track or near-warning track distance. It’s the results that count, but the process that led to the those results is perhaps a small cause for concern.

Jake Odorizzi’s good, but…not that good. Sure, he looked pretty strong in his eight innings of work. But I don’t think Odorizzi pitched as well as his line suggests. He only struck out four over those eight innings, and did give up three walks. The Jays had some good at bats – Bautista especially refused to give in and swing at borderline pitches, leading to two walks against Odorizzi and three on the night – but they also gave a few bats away, in my opinion. The seventh and eighth innings, in particular, weren’t pretty. In an early season game, with Odorizzi’s pitch count rising, the Jays didn’t put up great at bats in either inning. He only threw 15 pitches in total between those two innings. Granted, 11 of them were strikes. But when a guy’s tiring, and you’re seeing him for the third and fourth time, you should put better at bats together.

And the fans. While it looked like those in attendance more or less behaved themselves, a rare feat for the home opener, online there were some asinine comments about the ninth inning. Namely that old Gibbers gave Bautista and EE the hit and run, which necessitated EE swinging at what was “clearly” a ball. One, no one gives the hit and run on a full count. Two, no one gives the hit and run on a full count. Seriously. Three, it’s totally common to send the runner with none or one out to stay out of the double play. That’s especially the case when the batter isn’t terribly prone to striking out. The thinking is that he’ll either walk or put the bat on the ball. The walk negates the steal and the majority of hit possibilities will mean the runner either stays out of the double play or has an opportunity to get back to first…or, perhaps scores on one in the gap.

The thing is, despite EE not being strikeout prone – especially for a power hitter – he does strike out. And that’s what happen. It was a very reasonable risk to take, and one that backfired.

High heat after a couple of offspeed pitches down. It’s a classic pitching sequence to strike a guy out.

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