J.A. HAPP RETURNED WITH A SOLID START, TONY SANCHEZ HAS HAD BETTER DAYS IN BLUE JAYS 4-3 LOSS TO YANKEES IN DUNEDIN
The Toronto Blue Jays played their last Saturday spring training game in Dunedin as they hosted the New York Yankees at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Today’s start belonged to J.A. Happ, his first in big league camp since March 9th. Despite spending the last two weeks pitching in minor league games, and facing a right-handed heavy Yankees lineup, Happ delivered. The final line of 6IP, 3ER, 0BB, 2K, is a little deceiving as he definitely put in a better effort than the final outcome. His outing included fourteen groundball outs, with twelve batters in a row retired, sandwiched between first inning leadoff HR and a fifth inning double. The lefty worked down in the zone, and ahead in counts for most of the game, while effective moving the ball to both sides of the plate.
The relief core of Roberto Hernandez, Joe Biagini, and Roberto Osuna, performed well providing three innings of two hit, one run ball. Osuna was tagged with the loss; however it was a series of defensive flubs by catcher, Tony Sanchez, that allowed the fourth and winning run to score in the ninth.
Offensively, the Blue Jays bats didn’t give much of a challenge early. With Chris Colabello, Jose Bautista, Justin Smoak, and backup catcher Josh Thole being the only regulars in the starting lineup, Yankees starter Bryan Mitchell had an easy time for his four innings. Including retiring eleven in a row (twenty in total including his last start) until a Smoak 2-out double off the right field wall broke up his streak. Former Yankee farm hand, and new Blue Jay, David Adams, was the star at the plate with two doubles and two runs scored.
PLAY OF THE GAME:
With the offense having a slow day, the play of the game went spring training standout, Andy Burns. After a leadoff double in the 6th, Burns made a great diving play on a ground ball up the middle. While it didn’t induce an out, the play kept the ball in the infield which left Happ the potential to escape the inning unscathed. Although it was ultimately all for naught, it’s the type of play that can often change a game.
Saturday’s game ball goes to the AAA depth guys, David Adams, Jiovanni Mier, and Andy Burns. Adams and Mier combined for four hits (3 doubles), two runs and a RBI. While Andy Burns chipped in with several defensive gems to help his team, despite going hitless on the day.
Today’s turning point was a series of defensive errors from catcher, Tony Sanchez, in the ninth inning. With one out, the runner on first walked away from first base thinking the batter had walked. With him dead to rights, Sánchez proceeded to sail the throw to right field allowing the runner to advance to second. After the runner advanced to third on a ground ball, the former Pirate, clanked a seemingly routine pitch off his glove. With the ball rolling away, and the runner advancing, he pounced quickly, causing the runner to pause, only to kick it further away from himself allowing the winning run to score.
NEWS AND NOTES:
A big takeaway from this game is the performance by J.A. Happ, who after signing with the club, will need to be a big part of the starting rotation. From all counts it seems he has been able to carry over his new-found approach he picked up during his short stint with Pittsburgh last season. Secondly, is Rule 5 draft addition, Joe Biagini. After providing another strong outing today, a front office decision needs to be made on whether or to add him to the 25-man roster, or return him to San Francisco. Lastly, is the spring training play of Andy Burns. Though likely not heading north with the team come April, Burns is serving notice to the Blue Jays that he is ready to contribute. Look for him to possibly make an appearance this season should a middle infielder head to the disabled list.
*Featured Image Credit: Keith Allison, under: CC BY-SA 2.0
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Wade is a long time baseball fan who has been involved with the game for over 30 years. Including as a former college player, amateur pitching coach, and blogger.