The Bulldog comes up big

82
Toronto Blue_Jays

by Tyler Bennett

April 3, 2014 (ISN) – After a close 4-2 victory last night, the Toronto Blue Jays got another quality performance from their starting pitcher in a characteristic 3-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays, putting the team over.500 for the first time since Carlos Delgado’s departure (kidding).

Mark Buehrle froze the Tampa Bay Rays’ batters numerous times, striking out 9 of his 11 victims while the bat lay on their shoulders. Jose Bautista hit his first bomb of the season, and the Blue Jays played a rock solid defensive game behind a stellar pitching performance. Unlike the season opener, this was a game that the Blue Jays want to remember.

The MVP for the Blue Jays was without a doubt their starting pitcher, Mark Buehrle. Buehrle went 8 and 2/3 innings, striking out 11 batters while only allowing 4 hits and 1 walk. Buehrle was a

Mark Buehrle had a performance to remember.

machine, as he used his veteran pitching knowledge to his advantage, striking out 9 of his 11 victims looking. Buehrle didn’t overwhelm any batters with his mid-80 speed, but his pitch selection and placement was perfect. It should also be noted that Buehrle and newly acquired catcher Dioner Navarro created some great chemistry throughout the game, as the two were both on the same page the whole way through. For Buehrle, who is usually a slow starter with a 6.35 ERA in April last season and a 4.35 ERA career in April, it was a breath of fresh air for Mark Buehrle to get the season off on the right foot.

The Jays’ defense was also critical in the victory, as the team behind Buehrle made some stellar defensive plays and never committed an error in the victory. In particular, Jonathan Diaz was lights out at short stop, making some nice stabs at hot ground balls to make the hard plays look easy. Colby Rasmus also played very well in the game, tracking down some difficult balls that originally looked like trouble.

It should also be noted that the Blue Jays are having all of this success without the services of all-star short stop Jose Reyes, who is on the 15-day DL with hamstring tightness. If the Jays could have a defensive game like that night in and night out, maybe the Blue Jays can become contenders again.

The Blue Jays’ offence wasn’t dynamite, but they cashed in when they were given the opportunity much more often than they have in the games prior. Jose Bautista led things off in the 4th inning with a

Joey Bats had 2 solo bombs in the 3-0 victory.

bomb to left field off a hanging curve ball from Matt Moore, giving the Jays the 1-0 lead. After a clutch double from Edwin Encarnacion, Dioner Navarro would deliver, cashing in Edwin from 2nd to give the Jays a 2-0 lead. Joey Bats would cap off the night with his second dinger of the night, taking Josh Leuke deep to left in the 7th to give the Jays a commanding 3-0 lead. From there on, Buehrle took over and secured the victory for the Jays.

If there is any concern on the offensive side thus far, it’s Brett Lawrie. Lawrie is now 0/10 on the season and is still awaiting his first hit in the young season. It seems like Lawrie has changed his swing, slowing down his movement and planting his feet a bit more in his stance, which has caused some speed bumps for the 24 year old. Lawrie just needs to settle down and get back to his game, but his defensive play has been top notch thus far, so it’s not like it’s a pressing matter at the moment.

The Blue Jays close out the series tomorrow, with Brandon Morrow taking the mound to take on Chris Archer in the series finale. After a horrendous start to the series, the Blue Jays have outscored the Rays 7-2 in the past two games and have tamed the Rays’ offence. Mark Buehrle might have been the star, but the Toronto Blue Jays should be feeling confident with their progress since the disastrous season opener.

The Blue Jays will exit the opening series with a .500 record at the least, and that has to be assuring for a team that has had troubles against the Rays in the past. Last season, starting pitching was the biggest question mark on the team, but with the stellar performances from both Hutchison and Buehrle, Jays fans are finally being assured of some solid starting pitching. R.A. Dickey on the other hand, still has some explaining to do. Regardless, the Blue Jays happily take the 3-0 victory on the back of a red hot Mark Buehrle, and hope to keep the momentum rolling heading into the series finale tonight.

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