Brett Lawrie was behind second base, he was in shallow right field, he was in the stands.
In the Toronto Blue Jays’ 7-3 win over the Boston Red Sox last night, Lawrie was everywhere. For a guy being highly-touted for his bat, the 22-year-old tattooed phenom had an eye-popping game in the field. Call it a man crush if you will, but Canada’s newest favorite native son had me geeking out tonight.
In the top of the eighth inning, Lawrie made one of the most intense efforts I’ve ever seen from a baseball player, let alone from a guy whose team was up 7-1 in a game in early April. Lawire got a great break on a foul ball heading for the stands, sensed he had a shot at it and never slowed down. He leaped over a camera bay barrier to try to make the catch, crashing into the second barrier and nearly spilling into the Rogers Centre crowd. As you can see from the photo above, Lawrie put himself in an, ahem, precarious position to try to make that play.
He didn’t come away with the ball, but certainly earned himself a few more fans, including your’s truly.
Another thing unique about Lawrie as a fielder is how Toronto is using him. A second baseman throughout most of his minor league career, manager John Farrell and his staff are comfortable using Lawrie all over the place when they shift their defense.
With Adrian Gonzalez up, he was shifted behind second base (where he had a great play) and he was in playing shallow right field for the next batter, David Ortiz. Being able to position Lawrie wherever the shift requires an extra player allows the other six guys in the field to remain in their natural positions.
And, oh by the way, he went 2-for-4 with an RBI, a run and a stolen base. Dude does everything.
One of the reasons why the Milwaukee Brewers were willing to trade Lawrie to the Blue Jays for Shaun Marcum last offseason was he had some character and attitude questions. He’s also developed a reputation for being cocky, and rubbed some people in the Brewers organization the wrong way. Some guys just need a fresh start, going home to Canada has been the perfect fit so far for Lawrie.
Brett Lawrie may not be a role model off the field, but he is one on it. He makes the Blue Jays worth watching on any given night.
I catch a game almost every night on MLB.TV, and I’m going to start sharing my notes here on Rant Sports. As I’m sure you’ve gathered by now, I watched Toronto-Boston tonight. Here are the rest of my game notes:
-The reason I wanted to watch this game was to see how Red Sox starter Daniel Bard did in his first start. I thought he looked mostly good for the first five innings. If Boston hadn’t been having such troubles with its bullpen, I suspect manager Bobby Valentine would have taken him out for a reliever after five. Instead, Bard gave up five runs in five innings, but he did strike out six and issue just one walk.
-As much as I thought Bard looked better than the box score suggests, Jays starter Kyle Drabek looked worse than his final numbers. He held the Red Sox to one run over 5.1 innings, but walked three batters and induced more fly balls (7) than ground balls (6). After posting a 6.06 ERA in 2011, however, this start from Drabek is a huge plus no matter how you look at it.
-It’s safe to say Tim McClelland is not Jose Bautista’s favorite umpire. McClelland had some irregularly long pauses before calling some pitches, the most noticeable in the third inning on a 3-1 pitch Joey Bats thought was ball four. Bautista later struck out, and was visibly frustrated. He would strike out in his final two at bats, completing the Golden Sombrero.
-Even watching Bautista strikeout is pretty entertaining. Not sure anybody in baseball has a longer, more aggressive follow through than the home run king. When he really lets loose, he’s almost turned half-way around, facing the third base dugout.
-J.P. Arencibia looks uncomfortable behind the plate sometimes, like he’s not sure or surprised where the ball ends up. I noticed this especially Monday night when he was catching Sergio Santos, who wasn’t doing him any favors, either. Arencibia has been getting the job done, he just doesn;t look like he’s got a great feel for catching.
-Toronto has a lot of good athletes. A lot of their hitters run well, or at least better than you’d think by looking at them, and can throw. Both Lawrie and Bautista have cannons.
-Monday night, I was thoroughly entertained by the rowdy Texans in attendeance while watching Yu Darvish’s first start. They had it all, a guy doing the sprinkler, a crazy/obessed fan freaking out about Darvish and a dude mowing down a Yu Dog, the new hot dog available at the Ballpark in Arlington.
Tonight, Toronto had a streaker and an idiot on his cell phone who walked over into the batter’s eye (which is just a bunch of blocked off seats at Rogers Centre) and actually got the game delayed for a few brief moments while he was trying to get on TV.
For those of you keeping score at home, that’s America 1, Canada 0.