A good, positive thing. That’s what Colby Rasmus called the Toronto Blue Jays’ three-game sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies, and while Rasmus might have stumbled a bit on Father’s Day when asked when his daughter was born – eventually narrowing it down to 2008 or 2009, with some assistance – his analysis of the weekend was spot-on.
There is no need to look at the standings or take a peek at the teams ahead of the Blue Jays in the American League East. Not when the Blue Jays vacated their clubhouse after a 6-2 win over the Phillies in front of the season’s second sellout at the Rogers Centre, exchanging goodbyes and hugs with three starting pitchers: Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchinson off to get second opinions on elbow injuries (surgery beckons for Drabek, whom Ricky Romero hugged for a good long time, offering words of encouragement) and Brandon Morrow, off to the team’s minor-league complex in Dunedin, Fla., to rehabilitate a strained left oblique muscle.
And so a homestand that had all manner of carnage visited upon the Blue Jays ended with what manager John Farrell termed “the potential to gain a little momentum.” Starting pitcher Brett Cecil was just okay in his season debut, giving up five hits and a pair of solo home runs while striking out five and hitting 90 miles an hour on the radar gun until Farrell saw him starting to get his pitches up. But the Phillies are a rotting, decrepit ball club, and Cecil is no Morrow. Five and fly might work for your No. 5 starter; but for the second guy in your rotation, it’s a dilemma.
Henderson Alvarez starts Monday in Milwaukee but the next two turns are up for grabs between TBA and TBA. So they will put to the test the old baseball adage that your momentum is only as good as the next day’s starter.
But on this Father’s Day afternoon, at least, it was easy to look past the rotation’s health as the Blue Jays won their first home interleague series since 2008, in front of their seventh home crowd of at least 40,000.
Brett Lawrie and Rasmus have formed a dynamic 1-2 punch at the top of the order and Rasmus was 3-for-4 with three runs batted in and two runs scored Sunday while Lawrie was 1-for-3 with three runs scored.
Rasmus’ 10 home run was a two-run blast in the fifth off Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick. In 16 games in the second spot in Farrell’s lineup, Rasmus is 26-for-73 (.356) with five doubles and seven homers, and even though the world found out Sunday that he is the son of a chemistry and physics teacher, Rasmus didn’t bite when somebody suggested he and Lawrie were becoming catalysts.
“I just go out there and try to hit the ball, and run them down,” he said. “I just go out there, take my approach out to the field, and crush the baseball and run around them bases, you know? I don’t think about catalysts or any of that stuff, so …
“We’re both young and he has a lot of energy. I feed off that a bit. But I wouldn’t say we are catalysts. We’re just two players on a team trying to win.”
Rasmus has quieted criticism that followed him over from the St. Louis Cardinals. He is well-liked by those around the team, including – tellingly – the club’s support staff. Aided by a change in his batting stance originating with a two-game benching in mid-May, he’s closer to the plate now and more upright, no longer with an exaggerated leg kick and that brought a smile to the face of Tony Rasmus, a chin-whiskered science teacher who earned the reputation as a stage parent while Rasmus was in St. Louis.
Rasmus père talked up the Blue Jays before the game and during a stint in the broadcast booth with Pat Tabler and Alan Ashby, painting his involvement with his son as being overstated and consisting mostly of throwing batting practice.
“Last year I was in a bad place, I was never comfortable, never happy and always down,” Rasmus responded when asked to compare Father’s Day 2011 to 2012. “He [dad Tony Rasmus] was trying to get me to act right, but it’s tough in a place when you don’t feel right.”
The verdict is still out on whether Colby Rasmus can help save the summer of 2012, but both father and son believe the move to Toronto has saved the player’s career.