We really are in the middle of quite the slump. This team looks completely different from the one that had the best record in the Majors. Our record is now 22-16; if we continue at our current rate, we’ll have to start winning just to stay at .500, and we all remember what that feels like. We got swept by the Rangers; at least, at the time, we felt like the Rangers were a good match. But Minnesota’s pitching staff has one of the lowest strikeout counts in the Majors, and Toronto’s pitchers are mediocre at best and their hitters swing at almost anything. We are losing games we should not be losing. Not that there’s ever a game that we should lose, but still. Speaking of the Jays specifically, it would have been very nice to escape the series without allowing them to hit a slew of home runs. Sure, we hadn’t been able to win by doing that, but at least we, for the most part, eliminated their chief mode of attack.
Dempster was not so fortunate. He didn’t keep the ball down. His heat is more lukewarm than anything else, so you can see why location would have been the key to a successful performance on his part. He lasted only five innings and gave up six runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out three. And he allowed three home runs.
It started in the second. He gave up a single, a double, and a three-run home run with two out. He gave up a solo shot to lead off the third, and he issued a walk and then allowed a two-run home run in the fourth. It would have been worse had Victorino gotten hurt trying to haul the ball in for an out. He tried to catch it right at the bullpen fence but fell flat-out; he left the game in the seventh with some stiffness. Dempster gave up another solo shot in the fifth. On a splitter. If Dempster is anything, he’s a splitter pitcher, so the fact that he missed his spot with a splitter says something. Dempster, overall, has been pitching very well, at least for him. But, yes, all of his runs scored via the long ball, which is exactly how the Jays like it.
Miller came on for the sixth and gave up a solo shot on his third pitch. After recording the inning’s first out, he gave up a single, issued a walk, and was replaced by Mortensen. Mortensen gave up a successful sac fly followed by a two-run home run. He had a one-two-three seventh, and Breslow had a one-two-three eighth, making him our only pitcher to not allow any runs in the game. Jose De La Torre came in for the ninth and gave up a double, a walk, an RBI single, and an RBI double play.
All in all, that’s twelve runs. By the time we got on the board in the fourth, we were already down by five. Napoli answered the Jays’ power with his own, smashing a solo shot on the second pitch of his leadoff at-bat in the fourth. And he hit it to one of the deepest parts of the park. It was a nice piece of hitting; if only such a phenomenon were more common for us.
We didn’t score again until the sixth, when Pedroia singled and scored on a sac fly by Nava. We went down in order in the seventh, and then Ciriaco hit a home run. It was also a solo shot, and he also led off an inning. It was the second pitch of his at-bat, also a fastball. But he hit his beyond the Monster. Either way, it was still also a nice piece of hitting that we also could have used more of.
Then Pedroia flied out, and Napoli singled, Nava walked, and Gomes got hit. Just like that, the bases were loaded. It was Salty’s turn to bat, but a force out was all he could muster; Napoli scored our last run of the game. Napoli went three for four; the only other person to have a multi-hit game was Pedroia, who went two for five. Napoli alone scored half of our runs.
So the Jays finally got what they wanted: a win via the long ball. Dempster, a single pitcher, accounted for half the runs they scored, while the relief corps divided the other half among themselves. The final score was 12-4; we scored less than half the number of runs that Toronto scored. We left eight on base and were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position, so our dismal streak of being completely ineffective in situations when we need effectiveness most continues. Dempster took the loss, but it was a team effort.
In other news, the Bruins got shut out by the Leafs, two-zip. So it all comes down to tonight.