Toronto Blue Jays: 3 Improved Areas Showcased on Opening Day
The Toronto Blue Jays have a fresh start and are starting out strong.
With a win over the Cleveland Indians in a historic 16-inning Opening Day contest, the Blue Jays are seemingly bringing over their spring training success to the regular season.
Not only did they win their first game of the season, they showcased off three improved areas of this young Blue Jays team.
I'm full of optimism following this game, and I am going to tell you why you should be too.
The bullpen on Opening Day pitched 11 innings, giving up only four hits with 12 strikeouts—not to mention never giving up a run.
The bullpen's pitching was crucial in not only the win, but giving the offense enough time to break the stalemate.
All three relievers acquired in the offseason put up shutout innings to keep the Blue Jays in the game.
Along with a shutout, four-inning performance from sophomore Luis Perez, the bullpen was a huge factor for the Blue Jays win.
The bullpen has been seriously upgraded from one that blew 25 games last year, third highest total in the majors, and could be major factor in the Blue Jays' playoff hopes.
John Farrell has a lot more options this year, and even in a 16-inning game, he was not worried about who was going to pitch next or what shift to implement.
When the Indians had the bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the 12th inning, John Farrell knew instantly what he wanted to do. He called for a five-man infield and brought in 11-time Gold Glove winner Omar Vizquel. It paid off, as Asdrubal Cabrera grounded into a double play, ending the inning.
Rajai Davis, arguably one the fastest players in the game, scored the tying run while pinch-running for Adam Lind in the ninth inning.
The 2012 Blue Jays are a lot more versatile, which was the difference maker on Opening Day against the Indians.
Newly Found Clutch Hitting
Down by three in the ninth inning, the Blue Jays tied it up with clutch hits from Kelly Johnson, Yunel Escobar and Edwin Encarnacion.
With a three-run home run by J.P. Arencibia to put them ahead, they stole the game back from the Indians.
With Jose Bautista anchoring the lineup, plus all the potential in all the young bats, the sixth-most productive offense in 2011 might climb a few spots in 2012.
Confidence and energy were spreading wild in the Blue Jays dugout during the game, and it transferred onto the field. Hopefully there is enough confidence to last throughout the season and into October.