Is there anything in baseball more overrated than September statistics? How many times do you hear about guys ‘finishing the season strong’ which leads everyone and their little sister to then predict a stellar season the next year for the player in question. Oh, the cliches – ‘he’s turned a corner’, ‘he knows what it takes to win now’, etc. It’s unfair to give up on a pitcher’s ‘breakout season’ based on his first, very brief appearance in said season. So I won’t – yet. Here’s the thing, though, and there’s really no way around this – God is a fair guy. He doesn’t give one guy everything. Some guys get a lot of gifts (think Brad Pitt or Derek Jeter or Andre 3000), but for most of us, our existence as men is a constant battle between things we’re good at and things…well, not so much. When God gave the world AJ Burnett, he gave him a one-in-several-millions arm. I have a sinking suspicion that he didn’t give him much heart, though.
But, to the game itself…
Burnett did earn us 6 tough outs, though (see…I’m looking at the positives, too). If Shaun Marcum could have gotten Curtis Granderson (though no one else on our team seems to be able to, so why should he?) for the third out of the inning, one has to believe the Jays would have still been in the game. As it is, the Jays rallied from a 9-0 deficit (including 8 runs in the fateful third inning) only to lose the game 10-9. Yet another Toronto Blue Jay ‘moral victory’ (which, I believe makes the total 2229090938 for the last 13 years.) The relief corps was good again, generally after the 3rd and the bats did come to life, but ultimately when your big #2 comes out after a big opening day win and gives you, well, a big pile of #2, it’s difficult to overcome against a good team like the Tigers. Hopefully, Mr. Burnett will oblige us with a more spirited effort Monday night for the home opener. After all, the building is air-conditioned, so perhaps the darned cold weather and yucky wetness won’t upset him so much. If the conditions are just right, Mr. Burnett might even furnish us with 4 or 5 innings of work. Dare to dream.
THE GOOD: A 7 run top of the 8th to pull the Jays within 1 run after trailing 9 to 0 in the fourth.
THE BAD: In that 7th, with Fernando Rodney reeling and Vernon Wells on 2nd representing the tying run and only one out, 4 and 5 hitters Frank Thomas and Troy Glaus fail to take advantage, leaving the bottom of the order to unsuccesfully try to tie it in the 9th against closer Todd Jones.
THE UGLY: Anytime you have your ‘second ace’ who actually walks twice as many men as innings pitched, it’s not going to end up pretty. I worry less and less about Mrs. Burnett opting out of her contract after next season. It looks like she’ll think it’s a pretty sweet deal, likely averaging more than a million dollars a win for ’09 and ’10. Suddenly, Gil Meche looks like the deal.
GAME RATING: B+ – not exactly the type of poetic beauty Ring Lardner would have rhapsodized over, but a fairly eventful late inning rally makes for much more drama and intrigue than many, though the moral victories hardly satiate frustrated Toronto fans at this point.