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June 6, 2014

What You Need to Know

Soaring Jays

by Chris Mosch


The Thursday Takeaway
Justin Verlander became the latest victim of Toronto’s explosive offense on Wednesday, as the Blue Jays cranked three more home runs and put the finishing touches on a three-game sweep over the AL Central leaders.

Verlander averaged a tick over 96 mph with fastball velocity for the first time this season, but the Jays did the bulk of their damage off Verlander’s secondary offerings and ended up putting up six runs (five earned) on the 2011 AL MVP. In seven innings of work, Verlander surrendered eight hits and four walks while striking out just four batters. The 31-year-old has now fanned four or fewer batters in seven of his 13 starts, and he has just two more strikeouts this season than Yankees reliever Dellin Betances.

Down 2-0, Toronto started its offensive output with a three-spot in the fourth inning, which was started by a two-base error that was the result of a miscommunication between Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter on a Jose Bautista fly ball. The Jays knocked a trio of singles off Verlander in the inning—one each off his changeup, curveball, and slider—and worked a free pass to take a 3-2 lead.

The Tigers evened the score at 3-3 in the home half of the fifth inning, but the Jays would push ahead for good during their half of the sixth. Adam Lind led off the inning by working a five-pitch walk, which brought up Juan Francisco. Verlander thought he could sneak a first-pitch changeup by Francisco, but he was mistaken:


Francisco has never exactly been a bat-to-ball type of hitter, and he still has serious problems against southpaws. However, he’s crushed right-handers this year to the tune of .306/.383/.673. and boasts the MLB’s third-best OPS versus righties. The long ball was Francisco’s 10th of the year, and the next batter, Brett Lawrie joined him in the double-digit dinger club.

Melky Cabrera added a solo shot in the 9th off Phil Coke to become the fifth Blue Jays hitter to reach the double-digit home run mark this season. Toronto is now up to 87 home runs this season, extending its lead over the second-best team—the Rockies—to 12.

Toronto is now riding a five-game winning streak and has won 17 of its last 20 games. With series sweeps of both the AL West and AL Central leaders under their belts, the Jays will play host to the Cardinals for a three-game set this weekend, hoping to cross another contender off their checklist.

Quick Hits from Thursday
The last time we saw Yordano Ventura on May 26, he exiting in the third inning with elbow discomfort that was later determined to be the product of a valgus extension overload. After reports of no lingering pain after subsequent bullpen sessions, Ventura made his return to the mound on Thursday against the Cardinals, and the 23-year-old passed his final test.

Ventura hit triple-digits during the first inning and his heater sat between 97-99 mph for the majority of his outing, which lasted six innings and 91 pitches. The right-handed flamethrower only recorded one strikeout, and mixed in just 10 curveballs and five changeups, but he did maintain his velocity into his final inning of work.


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<< Previous Article
Premium Article An Agent's Take: When ... (06/06)
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