Wednesday, June 04, 2014


Out of the Blocks....

Sprinters know that you must get out of the starting blocks quickly in order to win races. By no means is the baseball season a sprint, with each team playing more than 160 games. But it never hurts to get off to a good start, and that is exactly what the Toronto Blue Jays have done this year.


They began a brief visit to Detroit for three games last night, then return home to play the St. Louis Cardinals this coming weekend. There is a trip running to the ball park from Wellington for the game on Sunday. Call Bob Lavender at 613-399-1486 for tickets.


A special tip of the ball cap to Edwin Encarnacion. He has simply played the best baseball of his life, so far this year. He registered 16 home runs in May. In 1956, Mickey Mantle also homered 16 times in May. In May, 2001, Barry Bonds hit 17 homers. In 1998, Mark McGwire had 16 dingers in the month of May. Understandably, the totals for Bonds and McGwire are suspect, due to the whole “performance enhancing drugs” scenario. Consequently, Edwin tied the record of one of the greatest hitters in baseball.


Babe Ruth hit 17 home runs in September, 1927, plus one game in October. That was the year he surpassed the totals of Lou Gehrig, and went on to hit 60 home runs. Encarnacion’s production moved him ahead of teammate Jose Bautista, who had 14 home runs in June, 2012.


As we witnessed last weekend, Bautista can also play a little defence. A line shot was hit to him in right field. Instantly, he decided to make a play. He realized that the batter, Billy Butler of the Kansas City Royals, was not the fastest runner in the game. Bautista scooped up the ball, and, in one fluid motion, uncorked a perfect throw to first base. Butler was out by a step, on this truly remarkable play. It is an extremely rare occasion, and many factors have to be in place for such an occurrence.


Billy Butler is a big lad, standing a little over six feet. But he tips the scales at almost 250 pounds, and usually is the designated hitter for the Royals. Consequently, Bautista knew he had a shot at him, with the perfect hit. I do believe that his play was not instinctive, but well thought out in advance. He made the kind of play that will be etched in the minds of Blue Jay fans for a long time.


Bautista has also contributed with his bat as well. For that matter, most of the Blue Jays have done what it takes to provide the offence required to win games. Many of us do not get a chance to attend a lot of games during the season. We might also have other things on the go: jobs, Stanley Cup Finals, “Honey Do lists” (I know I’ll pay for writing that!), plenty of life’s offerings. But it is most satisfying to read, in the morning papers, that the Jays have won again, and now find themselves on top of the East Division of the American League, by a whopping four games over the Yankees!


Mark Buehrle pitched a gem last Sunday, giving up six hits in eight innings. He is a workhorse, and his style is appreciated by his teammates. Ken Fidlin talked with Bautista about Buehrle’s style: “It’s not a surprise that when he pitches, there are plenty of defensive plays made. He keeps everybody engaged in the game because he works quick. He gets everybody to relax, and that allows us to execute our game plan.”


A quote from Billy Butler: “He frustrates you. He feeds off your over-aggressiveness. And he’s got a really good changeup. He’s always had that. Back door cutters, front door. Pounding you with it. Throwing two-seamers, running them back. He’s crafty.”  It appears as if Buehrle has Butler’s number!


OK, Blue Jays. Let’s play ball!


James Hurst

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?