Toronto Blue Jays: David Price and What the Royals Series Meant
Well that was one hell of an end to last week, watching the Toronto Blue Jays and Kansas City Royals go at it for four days. They have very different styles in which they go about their respective games, which should yield similarly favourable results down the stretch of the season if they both play like they did against one another in this series.
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What a way to welcome newcomers Troy Tulowitzki and David Price to the team. They got to see their new team take three out of four games from the best team in the American League, while seeing how some on-field intensity can bring the most out of the Blue Jays faithful at the Rogers Centre.
This was a series that showed what the Jays can really do. They got to face a quality opponent in the reigning American League Champion Royals, and they had to do more then just out-mash a team for a victory.
Against the Royals, the three phases of the game have to come together in order to beat them. The Jays had solid pitching overall, made some great defensive plays all around the field and came up with clutch hits late in games, that would lead to valuable tack-on runs.
One for example was Tulowitzki’s RBI bloop single to right field in the bottom of the 8th inning, to extend the Jays lead to 5-2. These are usually the type of hits that win games against quality opponents.
Jul 30, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) celebrates with right fielder Jose Bautista (19) after hitting a home run against Kansas City Royals in the fourth inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
A long ball or two is nice. However, against such quality pitching late in games, hitters need to have solid at-bats, draw some walks and come up with the clutch knock to help seal it.
In the final game against the Royals, we saw that sitting on the 2-0 lead probably wouldn’t do the trick, although we were treated to perhaps the best outing of R.A. Dickey‘s tenure in Toronto. Many Jays teams of years past would usually treat their at-bats late in games when up 2-0 as freebie at-bats.
Ones where they can go up and just swing away and see if their bullpen can hold it off, in case they didn’t hit any more long balls. But seeing the bottom of the order grind those at-bats out late is huge and will be needed a lot more down the stretch, if the Jays are to clinch a post-season spot.
In the final game of this series, there was some much talked about theatrics between the two sides. Tulowitzski and Josh Donaldson were both hit above the belt, with Donaldson being brushed back two more times in the game, all leading to some Blue Jays getting ejected.
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Throughout the game, it was clear that Donaldon and Royals starter Edinson Volquez were gesturing back and forth to one another. Volquez multiple times made the signals 2 and 0 with his hands, as if to say that the bean ball and brush backs weren’t on purpose due to the score.
Then right after the game ended, Volquez called Donaldson a, “Baby” and went on to say: “He was pimping everything he does. Somebody hits you, you’ve got to take it, because you’re pimping everything you do.” This sends a clear message that the pitches were intentional.
This is something that aggravates me to no end. Hey, brush backs and hitting guys happens and is part of the game,
However, if it’s intentional, then don’t back down from it. Don’t act as if it wasn’t intentional during the game, only to make it so apparent that it was afterwards.
Aug 3, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays opening pitcher David Price (14) pitches in the fourth inning against Minnesota Twins at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports
If you’re going to act tough, then do it all game and if you don’t want Donaldson pimping his hits, simply tell your fellow pitchers to stop hangin’ em when he’s up. Problem solved and that’s all that really needs to be said about that.
Next up was the downright dominant debut from Price, on Monday against the Minnesota Twins. He commanded his pitches from the get-go and earned some real respect from his teammates and fans, by getting out of the bases loaded situation with none out.
The Jays also got some late insurance runs for the second day in a row, in the form of RBI singles from Edwin Encarnacion and Justin Smoak. It’s nice to see the Jays step on teams throats when leading late in games and put it away – that’s what this offense is supposed to be able to do.
Price will continue to be a huge asset both on the days he pitches and the days in between. He is a true leader and seems like someone who unites all of his teammates in the dugout and clubhouse.
He’s always been a valuable guy to have around even from the days when he was at Vanderbilt, where his head coach described him as a “Guy who feeds off the success of his teammates”. Let’s hope there’s much more of it to go around.