By Bob Elliott
A tale of two fifth innings:
Ryan Goins, the second hitter in the fifth, went down awkwardly in pain in the dust of the batter’s box Saturday afternoon. He looked like someone going out for the morning mail and slipping on an icy sidewalk.
Most of the Blue Jays dugout was saying, whispering or thinking “get up, get up,” not wanting yet another ‘man-down’ scenario in this injury-plagued season.
And as the second hitter in the fifth inning on Sunday, Goins turned on a 1-0 pitch as the Sportsnet viewership heard broadcaster Buck Martinez yell: “GET UP BALL, GET UP ... GONE!”
The two-run homer off Seattle Mariners right-hander Taijuan Walker followed Kevin Pillar’s bloop single which was the first hit of the game for the Jays, who were suddenly on their way to a four-run fifth and an 8-2 win avoiding the sweep.
All is not lost.
They won’t go winless.
And symmetry abounds.
On Saturday assistant trainer Mike Frostad rushed to attend the fallen Goins, who appeared as if he was seriously injured or for sure would have to depart from the game. Yet, after Josh Donaldson made the third out, the tough-as-Texas Goins was back at short.
“I pushed off, rolled my ankle, my cleat caught,” said Goins as he bounced to short facing James Paxton only making it two steps.
And on Sunday he swung and took two steps onto the new carpet and was into his little-used home run trot. The light-hitting shortstop had gone first row of the second tank and jogged around the bases. It was his fourth career homer in 426 plate appearances.
Entering the dugout he was hugged by Chris Colabello, travelled the gauntlet of high-fives and then did a marathon handshake session with starter Aaron Sanchez.
“(Walker) made all his pitches, my at-bat the first pitch was a pitch out, so I hit the first pitch,” said Goins, “Pillar’s hit put him in the stretch.”
Frostad told Goins he’d tape his ankle every day ... “if he would hit a homer every game.”
Goins was part of three double plays behind Sanchez each one it’s own different manners. He turned one to end the first on a grounder to Muneunori Kawasaki, which manager John Gibbons appealed successfully (but you can read all about it on BlueJays.com) to keep the game scoreless in the first, took a grounder from Robinson Cano stepped on the bag and threw to first in the third and tagged Chris Taylor on a throw from Russell Martin, the back end of a strike-em out, throw-em out double play.
So a pretty good day at the office for shortstop Goins, or Go-Go as his manager calls him.
Yet, the symmetry ends Monday night for he won’t be at the same office. Shortstops Jose Reyes returns from his rehab assignment and is expected to start against the Chicago White Sox starter Hector Noesi.
With second baseman Devon Travis injured, Goins could move over to second.
Or he could move to the outfield, where the Jays have been playing two infielders some nights.
The glove and the arm have always played.
And on a day Goins provided the offensive punch for the hitless Jays, on a day country singer Jess Moskaluke entertained, a day he lifted his average to .248, the bat plays too.
Official complaint: If the Blue Jays took Sunday’s starting roster to Joker Marchant Field in Lakeland or Legends Field in Tampa there would likely be complaints from the host Detroit Tigers or the New York Yankees. During the spring visiting clubs are supposed to bring four major leaguers on each trip, although not all do. The Jays had Donaldson, Martin and Edwin Encarnacion in the lineup Sunday of those were supposed be in the every day lineup.
Starts: The middle infielder was supposed to be shortstop Reyes and Travis. Now, 46 games in Reyes has started 16 games, while Goins made his 26th Sunday. Travis has started 35. Fan fave Kawasaki made his second start ... The outfield this winter was supposed to be from left to right Michael Saunders, Dalton Pompey and Jose Bautista. Pompey started 22 before being send to triple-A Buffalo, Bautista 14 before injuring his right shoulder and Saunders nine before his knee problems. The rest of the outfield starts: Pillar 45, Colabello 19, Ezequiel Carrera 15, Danny Valencia 12, Steve Tolleson two and Goins one.
$ bump: If anyone should get a raise for this putrid Blue Jays run it is Mile Wilner, host of the Blue Jays post-game show. Rogers Communications should give him a salary increase. Think it is called danger pay. One caller suggested “the Blue Jays should stop trying to outscore the opposition.” After Wilner asked isn’t that how you win ... score more runs than the other team the caller said “not necessarily.”
Look south: If the Jays consider a managerial change they should look south to the Miami Marlins where owner Jeffrey Loria fired manager Mike Redmond and put Dan Jennings in charge. Jennings is a great evaluator of talent and a good man, but he has never managed before. The Marlins lost their first five. As assistant GM, Jennings pulled his rent car in front of his downtown Toronto hotel in August of 2013. The bell man unloaded the bags, saw the Marlins logo on the tags and asked: “You here to take back some of your crappy players? because you can have them.” This was nine months after the Jays (then, 59-74, .444, 19 games behind Boston) and the Marlins pulled off their 12-player blockbuster.