It’s now been months since the surprise deal that sent Vernon Wells to the Angels in the first move of Anthopoulous’ chess game to contention. The team had faced their old Center Fielder before; at the beginning of April in Anaheim. But last night was Wells’ first return back to his home turf.
Vernon was the face of the franchise for 10 years. Whether or not the contractual move to Anaheim was something fans have fully accepted, one thing was clear when he left; although he’d embrace his new team, Vernon didn’t want to go anywhere.
Within seconds of Wells’ stepping up to the plate for his first at-bat at the top of the 2nd, most of the 24,000+ crowd had risen to their feet, applauding the veteran Blue Jay.
In an interview with the Canadian Press after the game, Vernon described the moment as being understandably emotional.
“I just tried to hold back the emotion in that moment,” he said. “I didn’t think there would be much but there was and I just tried to enjoy it an obviously not be a crybaby at home plate. It’s just a moment I’ll never forget.”
Hold it back? I’m not sure if he did. Vernon Wells seemed to harness that emotion to smash Brandon Morrow’s first pitch out of the park. In the same moment? The cheers turned to boos.
Wells’ solo home run in the 2nd gave the Angels an early 1-0 lead, one they extended with 3 more runs in the 3rd. The final score was 5-1; the Jays only on the board with Eric Thames’ 6th major league home run in the 9th.
The game was a collection of errors and missteps for the Jays. The Angels scored 5 on only 4 hits. 3 Jays errors helped them out. So did Morrow’s lack of control.
Morrow, a pitcher known for his high strikeout totals, only struck out 3 in 7 innings, making this performance by far his lowest strikeout rate of the season. He walked 4.
It’s easy to point to Morrow to find what went wrong. Certainly, the more batters who reach base, the more runs will probably come in to score.
The errors didn’t help either. Over the past 2 games, the Jays have racked up a whopping 5 defensive errors.
After the game, Manager John Farrell criticized this, saying that defense is something the team needs more control over, and that the clumps of errors are “glaring”.
But the Jays offense also made a right mess of the 3rd inning at the plate. Jose Molina (my Molina!) hit an outstanding double to Center Field. For some reason, he kept going around second. Molina is many wonderful things, but he’s no speed demon. It was unclear to me whether he got the green light to run, or just misjudged Wells’ accuracy. He was tagged out at third.
Following that play, Brett Lawrie took a walk to first. And was soon after caught stealing second.
Had both stayed on for Escobar’s 1-out at bat, the team may have been able to get some runs early in the game, and build some positive momentum.
The Jays are back at .500, and are now 14.5 games out of first place. More importantly, they’ve slipped to 5 games back of 3rd place Tampa.
Today’s game should be a tough pitching duel as Ricky Romero faces Jered Weaver. With an ERA of 1.78, Weaver leads the AL starters. Romero, with 2.96, ranks 8th.