Monday, May 24, 2010

Blue Jays take 1 of 3 in Phoenix

From section 300, row 32, seat 1 - farthest seat from home plate

Interleague play began this weekend and the Blue Jays were in Arizona to visit the Diamondbacks. I had circled these 3 games when the schedule came out late last year as it combined my favourite baseball team and favourite baseball destination. I've posted plenty on Phoenix, so will just talk briefly about each game here as detailed recaps are available in about a million places on the web.

Friday - Arizona 8 Toronto 6

My friend Sharpy joined me for the weekend and was interested in sitting in the Friday's restaurant section above left field. For $30 you get a partial view of the field and a food and drink credit of $30. So essentially the game is free. But you are very far away. It's worth trying once if you are here for a series and want a different experience, but not for just one game.

Dan Haren (above, taken from Friday's) started for the D-backs and promptly gave up a leadoff homer to Fred Lewis. The Jays led 1-0 but things went downhill from there. Arizona scored 2 in the second and 4 more in the fourth, highlighted by a 2-run double from Haren. Edwin Encarnacion hit a homer for Toronto in the 5th, but Haren doubled in another run in the 6th. Encarnacion hit another shot in the 7th, but Arizona's Chris Young replied with a shot of his own in the bottom half to make it 8-3. In the 8th, Jose Bautista homered for Toronto. Haren left after 8 decent innings, walking none and striking out 8. In the 9th, Juan Gutierrez gave up two more solo dingers, including Encarnacion's 3rd of the game. Gutierrez was pulled and Chad Qualls came in to get the final out for the second night in a row.

I've intentionally recapped the game as above because that's how it felt. Runs kept coming without a break. There was scoring in all but one inning (the 3rd), the Jays hit 6 solo homers, only the second time that's happened in MLB history, and Arizona had 8 extra base hits themselves. It was a very entertaining game, but not so enjoyable as the Jays were down early and never really threatened, although they did have the tying run at the plate in the 9th. It was surreal being far away though, especially when home run balls sailed below you - a view I had never seen before.

Saturday - Arizona 8 Toronto 5

More of the same as Jays' starter Dana Eveland gives up 8 runs in 1 1/3 irritating innings (that's him leaving above) and the Jays struggle until the late going, when an Encarnacion 3-run dinger and Aaron Hill solo shot make it 8-5. The score might be slightly respectable but it is much closer than the game was. One of the least enjoyable sporting events I've seen and let's leave it at that.

Dave LaRoche

The good news is that Sharpy got a foul ball off the bat of Lyle Overbay. It bounced off the facing of the second deck, the person behind us yelled heads up, Sharpy ducked but the ball was juggled by the group of fans behind us and rolled down next to Sharpy, who just reached over to pick it up.

Adam Lind above, Mark Reynolds below

It was also 70's night at the ballpark. The cheerleaders were all attired in clothes from that era and disco tunes were played. Unfortunately food prices were still at 2010 levels but it was still as nice idea. Several fans played along too; even the Jays pretended like they were the 1977 team!

Sunday - Toronto 12 Arizona 4

Arizona scored again in the first as Justin Upton drove home Tony Abreu (below) and it looked like another long day at the ballpark.

But the Blue Jays offense finally got on track as Encarnacion hit his 5th homer of the series (a 2-run shot that landed just below Friday's, an absolute monster home run) and Jose Bautista had 4 RBIs to chase Billy Buckner. Shawn Marcum completed 5 serviceable innings and the bullpen was solid as the Jays salvaged the series with the win.

Bautista fouls one back while Encarnacion drives one

Aaron Hill

All-in-all, not a very good set of games, regardless of the outcome. No doubt Friday's big-fly fest was memorable, but the weekend tilts were blowouts that were decided early.

It was a bit of a disappointment after anticipating this series for so long. But that's sports, you never know what's going to happen. For example, you might be in a city watching baseball when another league schedules a playoff game on the same day. That's what happened in Phoenix as game 3 of the conference finals series was set for Sunday evening, just over an hour after the ball game ended. Naturally I went to that too, and will post on that next.



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