I think the countdown is officially on. Well, it’s been on for me since, like, the beginning of November (yeah, I took a couple of week to decompress before I started scrolling through my calendar and counting days), but we can start our official Opening Day countdown today as the Blue Jays are facing the Rays exactly one week before they open the 2016 season in Tampa Bay.
Last year’s Opening Day starter, Drew Hutchison, will take the mound in what’s being politely referred to as an audition for the fifth starter role, but as we all know, Hutch is realistically headed to Triple-A Buffalo while Aaron Sanchez and Gavin Floyd compete for the rotation spot.
Oh yeah, and Happy Easter! Unfortunately, this game isn’t televised, but you can still enjoy the soothing sounds of spring ball on the radio while you hunt for plastic eggs in the comfort of your home.
J.A. Happ got the ball for the first time in over two weeks yesterday. The left-hander was kept out of action as the Jays searched for innings for players who weren’t necessarily guaranteed a roster spot. Happ was welcomed back to Major League Baseball by Aaron Hicks, who smacked a solo home run over the left field wall on the third pitch of the game. After that, Happ settled down quickly, retiring the next 14 batters he faced, which included the meat of the 2016 Yankees’ order in Carlos Beltran, A-Rod, and Mark Teixeira.
Happ didn’t run into any trouble until the sixth inning, where he allowed two runs on a leadoff double, two singles, a wild pitch, and a fielder’s choice. When it was all said and done, he allowed three earned runs in six innings of work, surrendering five hits, allowing no walks, striking out two, and earning 13 outs on ground balls. So, basically the J.A. Happ the Jays are hoping for this season.
After Happ was finished, Roberto Hernandez and Joe Biagini were given the ball, working the seventh and eighth innings respectively without much trouble. Roberto Osuna came into the game in the ninth inning and had somewhat of a difficult time. His command didn’t seem to be there, and to make matters worse, Tony Sanchez seemed lost behind the plate. Osuna opened the inning with a base on balls, then Tony Sanchez threw a pickoff attempt into right field, allowing the runner to get to second. He was moved over to third on a groundout, and eventually scored on a missed catch error.
And that ended up being the winning run! But thankfully it’s Grapefruit League and nobody really cares about the outcome of the game, because if that sequence of events happened in August, I would have slammed my head into a wall.
News and Scuttlebutt
There isn’t much in the way of news to pass along today, as the general discussion everywhere seems to be limited to who the fourth outfielder is going to be, and the raging Sanchez vs Floyd debate. Most seem to think that Sanchez will end up being the one who gets the nod for the fifth starter position, including Ken Rosenthal, who wrote a column on it the other day.
The Jays also released their 2016 promotional video, so get used to hearing “I’m Coming Home,” which was also a song they used in 2012, I think. I thought for a minute that was a promo song they used in 2013, but it would gave given me a lot more PTSD flashbacks if it had been from that season. I know they’ve used this one before, but I can’t for the life of me remember when.
The Jays are handing the ball to Drew Hutchison to face the Rays and what appears to be a good chunk of their opening day lineup, while Tampa Bay is countering with David Carpenter, who signed a minor league deal with the team earlier this month.
Next Game: Monday vs Phillies (Stroman starting)
And now, the lineups…
Kevin Pillar CF
Ryan Goins SS
Michael Saunders LF
Justin Smoak DH
Darrell Ceciliani RF
Darwin Barney 2B
Casey Kotchman 1B
David Adams 3B
A.J. Jimenez C
Drew Hutchison SP
Logan Forsythe 2B
Logan Morrison 1B
Evan Longoria 3B
Corey Dickerson DH
Desmond Jennings LF
Brad Miller SS
Steven Souza Jr. RF
Kevin Kiermaier CF
Curt Casali C
David Carpenter SP