Blue Jays vs Rockies official thread Game 2 and 3

Discussion in 'Baseball' started by Babe_Ruth, May 22, 2006.

  1. Babe_Ruth

    Babe_Ruth Sultan of Swat Staff Member V.I.P.

    I couldn't watch any of the games because it wasnt playing on television so I am going to take this from www.bluejays.com

    It was the inning that could've been -- a frame that faded away much faster than the baserunners who barreled toward home plate. They would've provided the runs that pulled the Blue Jays back into the game. Instead, they became the pair of outs that sent the club reeling to its second straight loss.
    Following Toronto's 5-1 loss to Colorado on Saturday night, John McDonald, who was the first of two baserunning victims in the sixth inning, approached third base coach Brian Butterfield and apologized. McDonald made a split-second decision after rounding third base and was thrown out at the plate by the thinnest of margins.

    With those factors in mind, Butterfield said there was no reason to say 'sorry.'

    "He thought he had a legitimate shot and he took it," Butterfield said. "He apologized after the game and I said, 'You don't need to apologize because we're going to live by the sword and die by the sword.' He understands the situation."

    The situation was that Toronto had been rendered helpless at the plate through five innings against Colorado starter Jeff Francis. When McDonald broke for home plate, he was trying to pull the Jays to within one run in a game that presented few scoring chances for Toronto (23-19).

    Jays second baseman Aaron Hill led off the sixth with a single to shallow center field -- Toronto's first hit of the game against Francis (3-3) -- and moved to third base on a single down the right-field line by McDonald. Toronto manager John Gibbons then opted to use Eric Hinske as a pinch-hitter for rookie pitcher Ty Taubenheim, and the move paid off when Hinske hit a double to right field.

    Hill scored easily on the play -- cutting the Rockies lead to 3-1 -- but McDonald tried to squeeze in a second run when he saw the relay throw from right field was bouncing toward Colorado second baseman Jamey Carroll. After a slight hesitation around third base, McDonald bolted for the plate.

    "I rounded hard and looked and saw the ball wasn't going to reach Jamey in the air, and I decided to take advantage," McDonald said. "I think my aggressiveness might have gotten the best of me there."

    Television replays showed McDonald's hand appearing to touch home-plate before Colorado catcher Danny Ardoin applied the tag, but home plate umpire Bob Davidson ruled the play an out.

    Hill, who was standing behind the plate when McDonald was sliding home, wasn't so sure about the decision.

    "It definitely looked like [he was safe], but an umpire's call is an umpire's call," Hill said. "It's a bang-bang play. The managers could argue it from both sides. It was that close. We would've definitely liked for it to go our way, obviously, but I don't think anything really went out way tonight."

    Even after running into the visitor's clubhouse at Coors Field and watching the replay himself, McDonald wasn't convinced that he was safe.

    "It was a close play. I took a peek at the video and it was close," McDonald said. "I think I got some of the plate, but regardless of the call, in hindsight, it was too close -- in that situation of the game. If you're going to make that decision, you better be right."

    Two batters later, Alex Rios pulled a single deep into left field and Hinske attempted to score from second base after being waved home by Butterfield. The throw from left fielder Matt Holliday beat Hinske to the plate by a few steps for the inning's final out.

    Butterfield shouldered the blame for Hinske's out.

    "We knew coming into this series that the left fielder threw very well, but we got to two outs," Butterfield said. "Alex hit a ball firm through the 5-6 hole and Hinske's a good runner. I know we've got Vernon Wells on deck, but I wanted to try to push the envelope a little bit and try to get that second run across -- cut it to a one-run margin."

    After the loss, an obviously frustrated Gibbons wasn't about to second-guess Butterfield's decision. In fact, Gibbons offered little assessment of either costly play.



    Complete coverage >"He's the best third-base coach in the league and he makes a heck of a lot of good plays for us out there," Gibbons said. "I ain't worried about that. Plain and simple, we got our [butts] kicked tonight. They outplayed us the last two nights. It's that simple. No excuses. They stuck it to us."

    The two missed scoring chances by Toronto paved the way for a win for Francis, who retired the first 15 hitters he faced. The Canadian left-hander allowed four hits and struck out two in six-plus innings for Colorado (24-19).

    "I may have shut them down for the first five innings, but without those two plays, the game is entirely different," Francis said.

    The limited offense caused Taubenheim (0-1) to pick up the loss in his Major League debut. Taubenheim struggled some with his control -- walking three and hitting two batters in five innings. He gave up three runs on five hits, including a solo home run to Garrett Atkins in the first inning and a two-run triple by Brad Hawpe in the fifth.

    Gibbons was pleased with what he saw from Taubenheim, though, and said the pitcher should be happy with how he performed in his first big-league start -- an outing that might have resulted in his first win had the tides turned slightly in Toronto's favor in the sixth inning.

    "We're going to stay aggressive," Butterfield said. "We're going to run into some outs. We're also going to force some things that are going to be good fortune for us. Two aggressive moves: One by me and one by John and it didn't work out tonight."

    Game 2

    Coors Field can play tricks on temporary tenants such as Toronto. The Blue Jays knew the reputation of the mile-high ballpark when they traveled to Denver this weekend for the first time in team history and they had to make adjustments accordingly.
    The main characteristic of Colorado's home park that can change the way an opposing team approaches a game is the thin air, which can turn snapping curveballs into spinning floaters. That wasn't welcome news for Toronto starter Ted Lilly, who is most effective when he has good control of his breaking pitch.

    Prior to the Jays' 5-3 loss to the Rockies on Sunday afternoon, Lilly and catcher Gregg Zaun discussed how the left-hander would use his curve. Apparently, the pair opted to use the pitch sparingly and that significantly hindered Lilly's pitch selection.

    The lack of curveballs, coupled with the spacious gaps at Coors Field -- not to mention a pair of errant throws in the field by Lilly -- sent the Blue Jays to their third straight loss. It was the first three-game losing streak of the season for Toronto and the first time the club had been swept since last August.

    "Nothing breaks as good as it does at sea level here," said Zaun, referring to the effect the thin air of Colorado has on curveballs. "You deal with it when you come in here as a visiting player. It's a major adjustment.

    "We talked about it coming in. We thought we'd use [the curve] as a get-me-over pitch early in the count," he added. "We both agreed that [Lilly] didn't have a real good feel for it today, for whatever reason."

    Lilly (4-4) exited the game after just 1 2/3 innings and allowed five runs -- four earned -- on six hits for Toronto (23-20). The lefty struck out one and walked two in the loss -- his second straight defeat. Lilly's outing was his shortest of the season and it marked just the third time that he did not last at least five innings. The four earned runs he allowed were also a season high.

    After the loss, a frustrated John Gibbons didn't seem to be aware of Zaun and Lilly's pregame plan. Toronto's manager wasn't even sure if the pitcher even attempted a single curve.

    "Did he even throw any?" Gibbons said. "Ask him what his game plan was. I don't know."

    Zaun noted that only one of Lilly's 68 pitches was a curveball.

    "Normally, I'd like to mix more in. I certainly intend to," Lilly said. "Regardless, the main thing is whatever pitches you decide to throw -- whatever they may be and whatever the selection is -- you have to execute it and throw it for a strike."

    Zaun decided to have Lilly stick more with his slider, which was working better against Colorado. It wasn't working well enough, though.

    Lilly was touched up for two runs on four hits in the first inning by Colorado (24-19). Two of the hits -- singles by Todd Helton and Eli Marrero -- were bloop hits that fell in between charging fielders. Marerro's hit and a single later in the inning by Clint Barmes both came with the bases loaded.

    "There were a lot of cheap hits early in the game. It's tough," Zaun said. "He's making pitches that were inducing weak contact and they were still falling in front of everybody. It couldn't have come at a better time for those guys because everyone was on base."

    After giving up a two-spot in the opening inning, Lilly essentially sunk Toronto in the second. The left-hander walked Colorado's Choo Freeman to lead off the frame and then was forced to field a sacrifice bunt attempt by pitcher Josh Fogg. Lilly one-hopped the throw to the right of first base, where second baseman Aaron Hill was pulled off the bag while fielding the ball.



    Complete coverage >"I just kind of grenaded that first one. The ball was laid down and it was a routine play," Lilly said. "I've got to get an out there -- make that play simple and make a good throw. I've been throwing a baseball now for a long time, so I kind of expect myself to be able to hit the guy in the chest."

    The next batter, Jamey Carroll, squared for a second straight sac bunt and Lilly gloved the ball again. This time, Lilly fired the ball to third baseman Troy Glaus in an attempt to force out Freeman. Instead, the ball skipped away from Glaus, who tumbled over backwards on the play.

    What could've been an easy two outs turned into a bases-loaded opportunity with no outs for Rockies third baseman Garrett Atkins. He promptly pushed an offering from Lilly into right-center field for a bases-clearing double that proved to be the decisive margin in the Interleague finale between the two clubs.

    "[Lilly] was all over the place and we fell behind big," Gibbons said. "We just got outplayed all three games in this series. It's nothing more than that. We got some hits. We just didn't get the big ones."

    Fogg (3-2) did just enough to pick up the victory. He gave up three runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings. The trio of runs Fogg allowed came on a pinch-hit home run by Toronto's Alex Rios in the fifth inning. The blast was the ninth of the season for Rios.

    "Every good-hitting team is going to have a period of time where it doesn't swing the bats well," Zaun said. "It's kind of ironic that it happened here at Coors Field, which tends to be a hitter-friendly ballpark."

    At least the Jays know plenty about the ballpark for next time.
     

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