DETROIT - The arrival of OF Eric Thames and return of INF Jayson Nix is a boon to Blue Jays manager John Farrell as it gives him more options in his lineup. Unable to use Adam Lind due to his lower back problems the past eight games, the Jays have been playing with 24 players. The addition of Thames will reduce the playing time of Juan Rivera, who has been unproductive. He is mired in a 4-for-37 (.108) skid.
“The fact that Eric is here hasn’t caused us to not keep everyone involved,” Farrell said. “Now we’ve got 12 position players and there will be times where we’ll use a little bit of a rotation through the outfield. It gives us some options and gives another left-handed bat (Thames) that we’ve been needing.”
Overlooked in the Blue Jays’ 4-2 victory Monday was the fact that when closer Frank Francisco gave up a solo home run to Jhonny Peralta in the ninth inning, it snapped a string of 15 consecutive scoreless innings by the Jays bullpen that spanned the past six games. The bullpen, by the way, leads the major leagues with a .202 opponents’ batting average and leads the American League in both innings pitched (139 1/3) and strikeouts (118).
The Jays keep piling up victories in the opening games of each series they play. With the win Monday, they improved their record to 11-2 this season in that category.
Zep for zero
On Monday, lefty Marc Rzepczynski pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, which marked his club-leading 20th appearance of the season. Zep has allowed runs in just three of his 20 appearances and has held the opposition to a .175 average (11-for-63). He has been especially tough on left-handers who have gone 5-for-34 (.175) against him. Overall, he has allowed just one extra-base hit this season.
LHP Brett Cecil continues to cruise along at triple-A Las Vegas. On Monday he picked up the win over Round Rock, his fourth consecutive win, as he allowed three runs on six hits over six innings. However, there has been no up-tick in his velocity and Farrell seemed less than impressed with the reports.
“Similar type stuff,” Farrell said. “The overall velocity, the execution of pitches was average, I would say. He pitched up in the zone more than he had his previous three starts so that’s still a work in progress.”
In other words, don’t look for him to be back soon.