Friday, March 8, 2013

Spring Training: part 2

Today, as promised, I ventured to Sarasota, FL and took in the Blue Jays playing the Baltimore Orioles in spring action.

A few comments first, the drive down to Sarasota was scenically lovely, but annoying.  It's about 55 miles, but much it was spent winding through either construction or endless series of traffic lights.  There's a spectacular bridge (the Skyway) over the bay that affords great views on either side.  If I hadn't been driving, I would have taken a picture or two.

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota FL
There isn't much in the part of Sarasota that houses Ed Smith Stadium (spring home of the O's), but the stadium itself is beautiful.  It seats about 7500 and I was able to get a seat down the right field line in the 4th row in a section of mostly Canadians.  It was actually quite amazing how many Canucks had ventured down to Florida.  The family to my left were from Nova Scotia, the couple in front of me were from Alberta and some people behind me were from B.C.
Cal Ripken Jr. on the right.  No he doesn't seem impressed, but that's the best  photo I  got.  The rest were blurry.

Another AWESOME thing that happened (besides baseball), is that Cal Ripken Jr. threw out the first pitch.  He was spotted in our area and signed some autographs before heading out to toss the first pitch and then head into the concourse to sign his new children's book.

Ok, on to the ball game.  All in all, it was a pretty sloppily played game that the Orioles won 11-10 in walk off fashion on a 9th inning HR by 3B Ryan Flaherty off Jays pitcher Neil Wagner.  The game was back and forth after the Jays came back from being down 6-1 by scoring 2 in the 6th, 3 in the 7th, 1 in the 8th and 2 in the 9th.  The O's countered with a couple in the 7th and then the knockout blow, the 3 run HR in the 9th.

There were a lot of errors in this game.  3 by the Blue Jays (although I would have scored another play an error too), and 1 by the Orioles.  The Jays' middle infield of Emilio Bonifacio and Maicer Izturis did not look good, although Izturis went 2-4 with a single and double and Bonifacio had a single in 4 at bats.

Melky Cabrera also looked good, making good contact all game, but with only an single and 2 RBI to show for it.  He played a very nice center field today, making a couple of good catches and showing decent range.  Henry Blanco was probably the most impressive hitter, going 2 for 3 with a single and the Jays' only home run.  Non-roster IF Eugenio Velez had a very interesting day.  Because lists him as an infielder, I won't rag on him too much for making an error while playing left field.  At the plate, he went 3 for 3 with 2 singles and a double.  He's a 30 year old speedster with extensive AAA experience and a little flavour of the majors with San Francisco and the Dodgers. He's definitely a nice guy to have down in Buffalo who can come up to the bigs if they need someone.  Jose Bautista didn't give us much to watch, as he hit into a fielder's choice, walked twice and flied out to right. Adam Lind didn't look too great as he struck out, hit a hard fly to right that was caught at the warning track (off former Blue Jay lefty Mark Hendrickson), hit a single, and popped out to the shortstop.  1B Lars Anderson started out with a rough day, striking out and grounding to second twice, but he ended up with 2 hits as he hit a single then a double (he was the only Jay to play the whole game).

Of the subs, Kenny Wilson (who had a good year split between Lansing and Dunedin last year) got on base twice and scored both times. IF Jim Negrych continues to look good, hitting a double to bring his spring training batting average to .417, and Ryan Goins went 1 for 1 and looked solid on the infield.  Kevin Pillar also had a hit while we got to see Catcher Mike Nickeas's speed (or lack thereof) in all it's glory as he huffed and puffed around the bases to score (barely) from first on Lars Anderson's double.

On the mound, Mark Buehrle looked good, throwing 2 strong innings giving up a solo HR, walking 2 and giving up a single (all stranded) in the first, while getting 3 groundball outs around a walk in the second. Justin Germano came in with 2 of his own, but got victimized by 5 runs (2 earned) on 4 hits and no walks.

Alex Hinshaw and Claudio Vargas each posted a clean inning while Evan Crawford gave up two runs but only got one out in the 7th before getting lifted for Mickey Storey who pitched a shutout inning.  Juan Perez, a non-roster invitee who signed this off-season looked pretty impressive in his inning of relief.  He came in and lit up the radar gun as a lefty throwing 93-94.  He's not the biggest guy and gets his velocity like Casey Janssen -- dropping and driving.  He struck out 2 and got a groundball out and worked the bottom of the strike zone really well.  He's another guy who will be nice to have in AAA as insurance.  Finally, Neil Wagner worked the 9th and hit a batter and gave up a single before getting lit up by Flaherty for the game winner.

That's about it.  I'll leave you with a couple more pictures.  I won't get to another game until Saturday when the Jays play Detroit in Dunedin.  Tomorrow, I'll get to the minor league complex, so hopefully I'll have some more Blue Jay related photos!

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