So, 159 more games like the one Wednesday night, am I right?
Mark Buehrle struck out 11 Rays last night, his highest total since April 16, 2005 when he pitched for the White Sox. He has only gotten to double digit strikeouts three times in his very long career. He dominated in a way that I don't think he's ever dominated as a Jay. And it was glorious. As a commentor on DJF put it, "Buehrle for Jesus."
As the game went on, and as the number of guys was striking out looking rose, I began to wonder what exactly the Rays were looking at. But likely, as is the case with baseball in general, it looks a lot easier than it is. Slow pitches combined with quick pace delivering them must contribute to the magic.
Or the pitches were just so awesome, they were struck dumb with the awesomeness and were powerless against it.
Buehrle traditionally has started a little rusty in past seasons and his April ERAs are usually a little bloated as a result. It is only one game, but I'm interested to see if this game means he's bucked the trend.
Buehrle and Navarro worked well together, and illustrated the kind of back and forth chemistry that can happen in a game.
“When Navarro set up away, I hit the glove away,” Buehrle said. “We went in, [and] I hit the glove in with good movement. Just keeping them off-balance, getting ahead in the strike zone. Obviously, the defence was amazing. If they don’t make some of those plays, I’m not out there probably past the sixth inning.”
DEFENCE. It's amazing what a bit of defence will do for a pitcher like Buehrle. Yes, the pitching sucked last year, but I also think it's important not to forget the suckiness of the defence in 2013, and how it compounded the suckiness of the pitching. Suckiness².
Also, Navarro looks like a very large toddler.
Bautista, the other hero of the night, noticed the chemistry and the defence, too.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “You feel like you’re on defence for a short period of time and on offence for a long period of time. It puts pressure on the other team to execute not only on defence but on offence, and play the game in a complete aspect with the pressure of executing the small details. And I just go up to the plate and start teeing off on balls.”
Yes, teeing off on balls. Bautista hit his first jack of the season, and then decided he might as well get the
second one out of the way, too. He looks healthy, locked in and strong. Encarnacion hit a bomb that was just foul, so I suspect he'll follow suit very soon.
After the disheartening first game, the Jays have pulled themselves together for the second two. It is only three games, but to seem them guarantee at least a series tie in the house of nightmares that is The Trop is a pretty great way to start the season.
What's that, Jose Bautista?
“I don’t see any problem with talking about goals even if they are in the short term, and challenging yourself and challenging ourselves as a team,” he said. “Not being able to win a series here for a long time can certainly be taken as a challenge coming into the series, and even more now that we've put ourselves in a position to win it. Tomorrow’s game to me is going to be extremely important.”
I really like Mark Buehrle's style of work. He works quickly, he throws strikes and gets it done. I even loved how even when Gibby came out to get him in the 9th, denying him the complete game, Buehrle just sort of shrugged it off. I think I need this girl's shirt:
And finally, for @captainlatte. May one day your dream come true.