It was, by most accounts, a dreary outing not really worthy of writing home about.
But that’s exactly what Alex Anthopoulos did on Saturday when the Toronto Blue Jays general manager was in Las Vegas and watched the Triple-A start of Kyle Drabek, the young pitcher who was the apple of the GM’s eye in the Roy Halladay trade in December of 2009.
To the untrained observer, Drabek’s line of six runs off eight hits over seven innings would seem like yet another desultory start that helped capsize his 2011 major-league season. Anthopoulos, who has a lot riding on the success or failure of the 23-year-old right-hander, saw things otherwise.
So impressed by what he witnessed, Anthopoulos said, he started firing off e-mails to Jays manager John Farrell back in Toronto, raving about the changed man on the mound.
“The fastball was up to 96 [miles an hour]” Anthopoulos was saying earlier this week. “He averaged 94 to 95. The curve ball, he’s now throwing it for a strike, which he never had the ability to do here. He had some nasty curveballs for strikes. He was commanding the ball a lot better.”
It was no wonder then that soon after Drabek received his orders to pack his duffel and head to Toronto as part of the Blue Jays contingent of September call-ups.
He arrived on Wednesday, and was in the bullpen for the game against the Boston Red Sox at Rogers Centre.
Drabek began the season with high expectations after earning a spot in the starting rotation for the Blue Jays coming out of spring training.
It was a trial that lasted less than 2 1/2 months.
The inability to throw his fastball for strikes – Drabek finished with more walks (52) than strikeouts (48) during his 14 starts – was his primary concern. His inability to control his emotions in the face of adversity was the other and Drabek, with a record of 4-5 and an earned-run average of 5.70, was dispatched back to the minors for further conditioning.
And although his overall numbers at Triple-A wouldn’t appear to show it – 5-4 with a 7.44 ERA in 15 starts – Anthopoulos is certain Drabek is on the right track for future success.
“It’s going to come for him,” Anthopoulos said with certainty. “I don’t know if it’s now, I don’t know if it’s next year but I think one way or another Kyle Drabek’s going to be very, very good.”
Boston relievers conspired to walk in two runs to tie the game in the eighth inning, and then Edwin Encarnacion cleared the bases with a double to the power alley in right – the key blow that allowed the Blue Jays to prevail 11-10. Encarnacion drove in five of Toronto’s runs.
MORROW ORDINARY, AGAIN
While Boston knuckleballer Tim Wakefield was denied career win No. 200 for his seventh consecutive start, a more disturbing trend as far as the Blue Jays are concerned is the continuing struggles of Brandon Morrow, who managed to escape with a no-decision. Morrow allowed eight Boston runs off eight hits in just 4 1/3 innings, including home runs to Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz. In his last four outings, Morrow has surrendered eight homers.
FIELDER OF DREAMS
Surrey, B.C., native Adam Loewen’s remarkable odyssey from major-league pitcher to position player was realized when the September call-up made the start in right field for Toronto. “It’s almost like he’s been reincarnated in a different way,” Farrell said of the transformation. Loewen collected his first major-league hit in the eighth inning, a single to right. He went 1-for-3.
ARENCIBIA HITS THE MARK
With a two-run shot in the second inning, Blue Jays rookie J.P. Arencibia now has 21 home runs this year, a single-season franchise record for catchers.