Sunday, March 10, 2013

Spring Training: part 4

It was a gorgeous day for a ball game.  Sunny with a little bit of cloud cover at times at about 25 degrees celsius with a cool breeze.

My first impression entering Florida Auto Exchange Stadium (FAES) was a little bit of disappointment.  My first experience in a spring training ballpark was in Sarasota at the Baltimore Orioles' gorgeous, brand new Ed Smith Stadium.  But when I settled in to my seat at FAES, I enjoyed the charm of the ballpark.  It's not old or run down; it's perfectly functional and when filled with Blue Jay fans (aside from some Tiger fans), it has a lot of character.  
Tigers' BP
In the concourse
As far as the game went, it was a 4-2 victory for the Jays against the Tigers.  While most of the damage was done by the Major League squad, the Buffalo Bisons pitching staff held on to win it.

For the pitchers, Ricky Romero started.  I had high hopes for Ricky after watching his really good outing on Sunday against the Phillies on TV.  In that start, he hit his spots and his curve ball was working really well.  From what we could see today he was having trouble locating his fastball, which (if the radar gun was right) was hovering in the 87-89 mph range.  He gave up a solo home run to Andy Dirks on a fastball that he left way up in the zone, and ended up walking 3 to go along with 3 hits.  He seemed to be unable to get the ball down and looked like a repeat of the 2012 Ricky Romero.

A who's who of the Buffalo Bisons pitching staff followed Romero out of the bullpen.  Mickey Storey threw a clean inning in the third while David Bush threw two scoreless (one hit, one strikeout).  Lefty Aaron Loup gave up a hit and struck out one in his inning, while righty Brad Lincoln did the same.  Loup and Lincoln looked pretty good while Tommy Hottovy (.2 innings - 1 walk, 1 reached on an error) was an unimpressive, soft-tossing lefty.  Fireballer Neil Wagner relieved Hottovy in the 8th and struck out his batter before getting into trouble in the top of the 9th (with 2 singles).  Wagner got lit up in the 9th against Baltimore on Thursday, which makes this his second consecutive appearance that he's had trouble in.  Chad Beck relieved him and was very solid, giving up a soft infield single (in no-mans-land between the pitchers's mound and first) before retiring the next three (1 K, 1 fly out, 1 grounder to first).

So basically, a rough Romero outing followed by generally solid pitching from the Buffalo bunch.

With the bats, the biggest standout was Jose Bautista.  Jose hit a home run and double but the home run was really impressive.  He reached out for a pitch on the outside part of the plate and, not even making the best contact, hit it out to left field.  More than anything else I've seen from him this spring, this shows that his power has definitely returned after his season ending wrist surgery.

Bonifacio had a bad game, striking out twice and walking (although he had a nice little delayed steal)
Rasmus had a rough day at the plate, but he's been out for a few games, so let's let him get his rhythm back.
Cabrera had a nice single and made a fantastic defensive play in left field going back to the warning track to grab an Andy Dirks fly ball.  Combined with the great play he made in center field against Baltimore, I've really liked what I've seen defensively from Melky.
Lind failed to get a hit, but walked twice, including once against a lefty.  
DeRosa did not look good at the plate (but fine in the field).  PLEASE be healthy, Brett!
Izturis struck out twice and got a base hit.
Henry Blanco continues to impress me.  He had a base hit and a long sac fly in addition to throwing out Brennan Bosch trying to steal.
Ryan Goins had a rough day.  He went 0 for 2 at the plate, striking out and hitting into a double play, while making an error at shortstop.

Of the subs, Sean Ochinko had a nice double, and so did Eugenio Velez (who made an error at 3B).  

Following the game, I made it to a bar to catch the last half of the WBC game between Canada and Mexico.    All I have to say about that is I'm upset that a few Canadians got suspended, and I hope that several suspensions are handed down to the Mexican squad (the 3B who told the pitcher to hit the Canadian batter and the pitcher who threw at our guy 3 times!).  

More photos:
Ricky Romero on the mound
I think it's Kobernus at the plate

Meeting of the minds:  Gibbons and Leyland

Clearest picture of Jose Bautista

Apparently, the guy selling beer (L) sings Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Tomorrow the Jays play against the Yankees in Dunedin, which I'll follow with a trip to the Dunedin Smokehouse on Main Street to watch the Canada/USA game.  Monday, I'll spend the day at the Jays minor league camp.  I've been informed that they'll play intra-squad games on Monday afternoon prior to minor league spring training games starting on Tuesday.  Tuesday, I'll go to Clearwater to check out the Phillies camp and Bright House Field (which looks beautiful from the highway), and Wednesday, I'll be back at the minor league complex for more minor league spring training action.  Thursday I wrap up my week+ at Spring Training watching the Blue Jays/Yankees rematch in Dunedin.  Stay with me, Jays fans!

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