By: Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network
BALTIMORE _ That column housing the Blue Jays batting averages can be depressing for a fan.
Or the man who gets to write the names down on paper each night
Last year’s most feared lineup in baseball has the look of a convoy on an Inter-state.
Russell Martin took a .146 average into Tuesday night’s opener at Camden Yards.
Troy Tulowitzki was hitting .140, while Ezequiel Carrera (.167) and Josh Thole (.111) were also headed south on the I-75.
Meanwhile Justin Smoak (.083) and Chris Colabello (.077) are lost on a dusty two-lane road.
Marcus Stroman pitched seven innings and Roberto Osuna picked up a four-out save now that he’s back from a trip to Finger Nails R Us as the Jays edged the Baltimore Orioles 4-3 before 16,783.
Yet, the Blue Jays do not move over .500 (for the first time since April 5) without a two-run double from Tulowitzki, Smoak going 1-for-2 with a pair of walks and Martin drawing a walk.
Osuna was not available on Monday after splitting a finger nail. He recorded the final out of the eighth Mark Trumbo on a fly ball and set down the Orioles 1-2-3. For Osuna it was his fifth save.
ANOTHER STRO SHOW: The Orioles touched up Stroman for a pair of home runs. Manny Machado in the fourth to cut the Jays lead to 3-1 and Matt Wieters in the seventh to make it a one-run game.
Tulowitzki ranged far to his right, fielded Trumbo’s grounder and flipped a one hopper across the diamond to first baseman Smoak, who scooped the ball out of the dirt ... and then it came free.
Wieters hit a 1-1 pitch to right for a two-run homer. The Jays asked for a replay and after 46 seconds the call stood.
Stroman allowed a line drive homer to straightaway centre to Machado on an 0-1 pitch with one out in the fourth.
He had to negotiate stormy waters after an Adam Jones single and a walk to Trumbo one out later. After a visit from pitching coach Pete Walker, Wieters pulled a 3-2 change onto the grass in shallow right. Second baseman Ryan Goins dove and threw to Smoak. First base ump Tony Randazzo signalled safe.
The Jays asked for a replay and it took three minutes and three seconds for the big ump on the island of Manhattan in Chelsea to decide that the play should stand.
So, now Stroman was facing J.J. Hardy with two out the bases loaded and the tying run on second base. Hardy popped up a 2-1 pitch to Goins. No replay needed.
Stroman threw 101 pitches (67 strikes) allowing six hits while walking one and striking out three.
IN GAME: Former Maryland Terp Brett Cecil took over for Stroman in the eighth, allowed a one out double to Machado, walked Nolan Reimold on four pitches and popped up Chris Davis before Osuna took over ... Michael Saunders doubled to right leading off the third and one out later Bautista lined a single which would have scored most lead-off men from second, but Saunders broke back on the play. Tulowitzki then doubled past a diving Joey Rickard in left scoring Saunders and Bautista. Smoak then lined a one hopper to right but Tolowitzki was out easily on Trumbo’s throw to the plate ...
Jays scored the first run of the game with only one base hit in the second. Edwin Encarnacion led off by lining a pitch into the left field corner. One out later O’s starter Mike Wright walked Smoak and Martin on a total of 11 pitches. Ryan Goins hit a ground ball inside the bag at first which scored Encarnacion as Davis dove and smothered the ball, recording the second out ... Third baseman Josh Donaldson made a fine back-handed play on a Jonathan Schoop smash.
GEORGE SPEAK: “Everyone is good, everyone is healthy,” said trainer George Poulis Tuesday night in an exclusive 1-on-1 interview with The Sun behind the batting cage. Congrats to the Mark Shapiro regime for restoring freedom of speech for trainers. Too long have they been seen and not heard.
Poulis, Scott Shannon and Tommy Craig did not have speaking privileges with the media under the Alex Anthopoulos, J.P. Ricciardi and at end of the Gord Ash regime. Now, we don’t want much, but we expect Poulis to duplicate some of former trainer Craig’s pearls:
Describing Jimmy Key’s injury: “He has a little something in his left elbow, ‘bout the size of a butter bean.”
To manager Cito Gaston after a tough loss: “Dad. Why did you leave him in so long? We got a shot to win this thing -- if you listen to me.”
Or the time a Jays pitcher was struck with a liner, went down and racing to the mound Craig signalled for the reliever HE wanted.
R.I.P. In 1959 as a 10-year-old I would cut out full-page pictures from SPORT magazine and mail them off to major leaguers care of the stadium address found in The Sporting News. It was a standard letter: “Dear Mr. X You are my favorite player. You play for my favorite team. Could you please sign this picture and send it back to me. Thanks.”
Orioles right-hander Milt Pappas held the record for sending his picture back the quickest. Pappas died Tuesday at age 76. He’s a member of the Orioles Hall of Fame and was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for MVP Frank Robinson. Pappas pitched for the Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs, the Reds and the Orioles winning 209 games in 17 seasons. With the Cubs he had a perfect game on the line against the San Diego Padres and a 3-2 count on pinch-hitter Larry Stahl. Bruce Froemming called a ball ending the perfect game for Pappas, who retired the next batter to secure the no-hitter.