If there’s something that can be said about National League baseball, it’s that it often forces a manager to think outside the box and embrace their creative side. Although thinking outside the box isn’t something John Gibbons is known for, yesterday he unleashed his creative side and the Blue Jays ended up having one of the most strange/exciting games they’ve played in a long time.
Before the game even started, it was announced that Russell Martin would be starting at 3rd base so that Toronto could keep his hot bat in the line-up, while at the same time provide a little more work behind the plate for a rusty Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Blue Jays back-up catchers have had a rough go the past few seasons, and it seems to have a lot to do with them just not getting the necessary playing time to stay on top of their game.
To get more production out of both Saltalamacchia and Martin, perhaps playing Martin a bit more often at 3rd base may be the way to go. Seeing as it would give Saltalamacchia more opportunity to get going at the plate, while giving Martin more of a break from the physical grind of playing so often at catcher. Although he didn’t get much action over at 3rd last night, on the one play the ball was hit to him, Martin didn’t look one bit out of place.
Every now and then there’s a play so amazing that it spreads like wild fire across the internet. Chris Coghlan‘s superman slide over Yadier Molina was just that play, going viral in a matter of minutes. Never can I remember seeing a Blue Jay (or anyone) making a play like this where they dive over the catcher, touch home plate with their head, and finish up with a graceful front flip. Two years ago, Josh Donaldson had what I considered to be the greatest slide in Blue Jays history when he narrowly avoided the tag by Cleveland’s catcher Yan Gomes. As great as Donaldson’s slide was, Coghlan’s I think has to take the cake…I mean, how often is it that you see a player dive-jump over a catcher and touch home with their head?
— Blue Jays (@BlueJays) April 26, 2017
It’s safe to say the Blue Jays have had their fair share of struggles at the plate so far this season. So when Marcus Stroman came in to pinch hit in the top of the 11th and laced a double down the left-field line, you have to ask yourself why the players who hit for a living haven’t been able to come through like that this year. As much as I hate seeing pitchers hit, the only players the Blue Jays had available to them on the bench were pitchers. So when Jason Grilli was due up, Stroman grabbed a bat and helmet, and proceeded to do in one at-bat what several Blue Jays have been struggling to do for the first three weeks of the season.
What’s neat about playing under National League rules, is that as a team, you learn a lot about your versatility. What the Blue Jays showed yesterday is that they’re far more versatile than people give them credit for. Hopefully moving forwards, John Gibbons continues to think outside the box a little more often like he did yesterday, because this sort of approach can work quite effectively for a team with such gifted athletes.