September 10, 2012
Should the Blue Jays lock up Carlos Villanueva?
By KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency
In his bid to interest the Blue Jays, or somebody, to offer him a multi-year contract as a starting pitcher when he enters the free agent meat market this November, Carlos Villanueva has pitched well this season.
Question is, has he pitched well enough?
In Villanueva’s last eight starts since August 1, at a time when the Toronto offence was struggling along without Jose Bautista, Brett Lawrie and J.P. Arencibia, the team has gone 3-5, while Villanueva’s record has been 1-5, with a 4.17 ERA.
On the positive side, Villanueva has pitched at least 5.2 innings in each of those eight starts. In that span, he has only one game in which he failed to pitch at least six full innings. It’s also worth noting that the Jays have scored just 19 runs in those eight starts, putting Villanueva in stressful situations all along the way.
The Vancouver Canadians, the Blue Jays Northwest League short-season Class A affiliate, won their second consecutive league championship Sunday, erupting for seven runs in the eighth inning to overcome a 7-5 Boise lead on their way to a 12-9 victory in the third and deciding game of the championship series
Kellen Sweeney ignited a seven-run eighth inning with a two-run single and Art Charles capped it with a bases-loaded triple.
After winning the West Division first-half title and going 46-30 during the regular season, Vancouver swept Everett in the best-of-3 semi-finals. In the finals, the Canadians won the opener, 10-7, before the Hawks evened the series with a 3-2 victory on Saturday night.
HOME RUN CHASE
Edwin Encarnacion hit his 38th home run Friday in Boston to stay in touch with league-leader Josh Hamilton (40) of the Texas Rangers. Encarnacion, with four HR in his last nine games, is still in position to give Toronto its third consecutive MLB home run crown. Jose Bautista won the last two.
Encarnacion has hit 18 homers with two strikes, including nine homers on a 1-2 count and one with an 0-2 count.
“When you look at what Edwin has been doing in a 1-2 count, he’s hitting almost .350 (actually .348) on the year,” said manager John Farrell. “He doesn’t overswing on those counts. he stays on the baseball. You can’t say enough about the year he’s had for us.”
With 97 RBI, Encarnacion is poised to become the 20th Blue Jay player to reach the 100-RBI plateau.