Toronto Blue Jays Thoughts, April 8th Edition: Vs. Cleveland Indians

By Thom Tsang

The 2012 Toronto Blue Jays are undefeated no more, following today’s 3-4 loss to the Cleveland Indians.

We’re still on pace to go 108-54 though, so that’s not too shabby. Here are some thoughts on what went down at the series finale at Progressive Field:

– Joel Carreno didn’t look great today, but he wasn’t terrible, either; the righty was making his first MLB start, and allowed 4 runs on 6 hits over 6 uneven innings. The damage was mostly done by Indians sophmore Carlos Santana, who hit a pair of homers while driving in 3 runs, but the low point of Carreno’s start was probably the 4 walks he allowed during that stretch, especially coming off the 11 relief appearances in which he only allowed 4 walks in 15.2 innings. Doesn’t matter much, though, because he won’t be getting another shot for a while. The Blue Jays don’t need a 5th starter until late April, and have sent Carreno back to AAA in the meantime. Taking his place? Aaron Laffey, who will end up being the long-man in the bullpen.

– Yunel Escobar put together a resurgent 4.4 WAR season in ’11, but the Blue Jays shortstop is getting of to something of a slow start in ’12. Nevermind the .105 batting average – Escobar had trouble handling the ball cleanly on a couple of occasions today, leading to a missed double-play toss to 2nd during the 7th inning. The error was charged to Kelly Johnson in the, however.

– Speaking of Johnson, the Blue Jays 2nd baseman is starting his season well, going 2-for4 today with a pair of runs scored. The most impressive thing, though, was his approach at the plate, which he showed in his at bat against Tribes closer Chris Perez in the 9th inning. With 2 outs, Johnson was down 1-2 in the count after 3 pitches, but showed great patience, extending Perez over the next 6 pitches until he finally coaxed a walk which loaded the bases for Jose Bautista. Bautista couldn’t complete the comeback, but that Johnson got him the opportunity to do so shoudn’t be understated. Johnson is a .344 career OBP player with a 10.8 BB rate, and those are going to add up in Bautista’s total numbers as the season continues to roll along.

– As of right now, Jeff Mathis (1-for-3 in his first start) is tied with Jose Bautista for 2nd on the Blue Jays in batting average. Enjoy that one while it lasts.

– Eric Thames got his first hit! 2 of them, in fact, as left fielder can now get that hitless monkey off his back. Travis Snider still lurks though, somewhere in Las Vegas. Snider missed the last 2 games with a sprained thumb, but did get 4 hits over 10 PA in his first 2 games, including a homer. Nothing to see here, really.

The Blue Jays will finally come back home to Toronto tomorrow, with Henderson Alvarez set to take the mound against Felix Dubront of the Boston Red Sox. Despite his young age and inexperience, Alvarez has a lot riding on his shoulders this season, effectively having become the Blue Jays #3 starter at just 21-years old. A home opener assignment against the Red Sox is as good a test as any for Alvarez’s growth in the off-season.

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