Evans, Lalonde, MVP Merhige, Osuna, Sanchez, Sportsnet, Stroman

By Bob Elliott

KANSAS CITY _ If you saw that game played with the soccer fans pelting the Rogers Centre turf on Thursday you saw a few things:

_ The Texas Rangers take the lead when Russell Martin attempted to throw the ball back to the mound and hit Shin-Soo Choo’s bat.

_ Then as it got crazy escalating by the tossed bottles and beers hitting fans. Would someone from the Texas Rangers law enforcement agency have to be called. Those Texas Rangers have a saying: One Riot, One Ranger. Is this Riot the One Ranger was not Sam Dyson.

_ Along with Jose Bautista’s tape-measure, no doubter there was something else on display.
Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez and Roberto Osuna, homegrowns one and all, combined to allow eight hits -- a Choo homer, two doubles and five singles, while striking out nine as the Jays won 6-3 advancing to the best-of-seven American League Championship Series which begin against the AL Central Division champion Kansas City Royals on Friday night.

Stroman, Sanchez and Osuna? 

Will the trio be 3/5ths of the Jays starting rotation next season?

Well, there are a few questions to answer before then: 

Can David Price pitch better against the Royals than he did against the Rangers (eight runs in 10 innings)?

Is it possible for Bautista to homer in the ninth and flip his bat into the centre field fountains at Kauffman?

And is the Jays third appearance in their 39-year history about to unfold when the World Series begins Oct. 27?

Stroman, Sanchez and Osuna will play a part in determining the most important question.

Sanchez was drafted in the first round (34th over-all) in 2010 from Barstow, Calif. High by scouting director Andrew Tinnish and given a $775,000 US bonus to ignore classes and a scholarship at Oregon. Sanchez was born at 7:40 a.m., on Canada Day, July 1, 1992, in Barstow. And 18 years and six days later he began a Jay.

Jays scouting director Andrew Tinnish saw Sanchez pitch four times, always with area scout Blake Crosby. Tinnish said he saw Sanchez clocked at 95 mph and “not even break a sweat.” Crosby saw every one of Sanchez’s start, every one of his innings leading up to the draft. 

Osuna found Blue Jays international scout Marco Paddy as a 15-year-old, asked Paddy to scout Osuna. Paddy phoned general manager Alex Anthopoulos and assistant GM Tony LaCava after seeing him pitch seven innings and fan 13 Team USA hitters in a 16U tourney. 

The Jays purchased Osuna’s contract from the Diablos Rojos del Mexico for $1.5 million US in 2011. LaCava pushed to sign Osuna. 

Paddy made an offer to Reds’ Roberto Mansur. Did Mansur take the Jays first offer? “They never do, do they?” Paddy asked. 

Was he dealing with Mexico’s Scott Boras? 

“More like negotiating with Mexico’s Paul Beeston,” Paddy said. “Mansur is the president of the team and part owner. He was very pleasant, straight forward.” 

The Reds waited for other clubs to bid and decided the Toronto offer was the best, leaving the San Diego Padres, the Texas Rangers and the New York Yankees in the dust. 

Stroman was drafted in the first round (22nd over-all) from the Duke University Blue Devils in 2012 by Tinnish and given a $1.8 million bonus. There was plenty of pre-draft debate whether Stroman would be a starter or a reliever. 

Dana Brown, who helped stock the Washington Nationals organization, gave a thumbs up to a starting role. 
Stroman, Sanchez and Osuna.

They might be 3/5ths of next spring rotation, but right now Jays fans would like to see them remain a winning trifecta.


TOTALS ARE IN: The seventh inning of Game Five Rangers-Jays game consisted of a single, a successful bunt, ground out, a force play, a strikeout, two umpires huddles, two umpires reviews and a phone calls to New York, manager John Gibbons filing a protest, plate ump Dale Scott flashing a giant imaginary ‘P’ to the official scorer, four errors (two to Elvis Andrus, one to Russell Martin and Mitch Moreland) two trips to the mound by Mike Maddux, a pitching change, Rougned Ordor back peddling taking baby steps rather than turning taking two cross over steps which allowed Josh Donaldson’s blooper to knock in the tying run, a home run, a bat flip, two bench-clearing stare downs caused by reliever Sam Dyson and 44 pitches in the 53-minute inning.


MVP in ALDS: They don’t award an MVP for the Division Series. but our pick is Phyllis Merhige senior vice president, club relations for Major League Baseball. At the daily press briefing on Wednesday Blue Jays manager John Gibbons was answering questions when Merhige noticed more than half the audience looking at their phones and not paying attention. She called order in the room and asked people to stop tweeting and pay attention.

Merhige’s biggest day came during the 1990 ALCS when plate ump Terry Cooney kicked Boston Red Sox right-hander Roger Clemens five batters in the second inning after walking Oakland A’s Willie Randolph. Clemens disputed the call and it was a rare post-season ejection of a starting pitcher.

Reporter Jim Gray interviewed Clemens before he reached the visiting clubhouse, which was against the rules. This was the first year of the new CBS contract yet, Merhige told Gray if the interview aired the plug would be pulled on the telecast. 

The interview didn’t air until after the game as Dave Stewart pitched a 3-1 win. The A’s scored three times in the second with Luis Rivera, current Jays third base coach, playing short for Boston. 


OVERNIGHTS ARE IN: The average audience for Wednesday’s Jays-Rangers game Game 5 was 4.85 million on Sportsnet, which the audience peaking at t 8.1 million viewers in the top of the ninth inning, as closer Roberto Osuna fanned Will Venable to end matters.

Game 5 was most-watched broadcast in Sportsnet history followed by Game 4 (4.38), Game 3 (4.2 million), Game 2 (2.4 million) and Game 1 (2.35 million).

The TBS doubleheader on Tuesday saw the Chicago Cubs-St. Louis Cardinals game average 6.2 million viewers, while the Dodgers-New York Mets game average 6.4.

Canada (population 35.16 million) roughly 10 times smaller than the USA (318.9 million), Canada’s team drew 2/3 of the audience. 

And this is hockey country?

In the top of the seventh with fans throwing bottles and beers down onto fans below it looked like a hockey game.

A junior C playoff game. In overtime. 


MAJOR PROPS: The fact Rangers pitchers were able to hold Jays hitter to a .228 average a lot of credit goes to Texas scout Todd Walther, who followed the Jays for nearly three weeks. In 2011, Walther was responsible for advanced scouting of the Detroit Tigers ahead of the ALCS. He covers the Jays from class-A to the majors.

Jays second baseman Ryan Goins was hitless in 17 at-bats, Troy Tulowitzki batted .095 (2-for-21) and Russell Martin hit .200 (3-for-15). The Jays hit 8-for-38 (.211) in post season.

And credit should go to Jays scouts Danny Evans, former Los Angeles Dodgers GM, and Jon Lalonde, former Jays scouting director, for Toronto pitchers holding the Rangers to a .217 average.

Mike Napoli was 1-for-7 (.143), while Prince Fielder hit .150 (3-for-20), Josh Hamilton batted .167 (3-for-18) and Elvis Andrus hit .182 (4-for-22).

Now will see how well Royals scouts Tim Conroy and Jim Fregosi, Jr. scouted the Jays.

And how Chuck LaMarr, former Tampa Bay Rays GM, and Ross Bove, both special assignment scouts, scouted the Royals.

Or as the saying goes “if the players properly implement the plan.”


Bob ElliottComment