Shaun Marcum is back (knock on wood): Although Marcum pitched better than his pitching lines indicated over his first three starts, last night's performance (seven innings, one run, three hits and seven strikeouts) was the first time that he truly looked comfortable and in control since his return from the DL. It doesn't hurt that he was facing the inept Oakland A's lineup, but nevertheless, it's good to have him back.
Rod Barajas is an offensive monster and a defensive beast: In addition to his montrous first inning dinger off rookie Gio Gonzalez, Barajas had a stellar game behind the plate. Rod the God made a great play to pick a John McDonald throw out of the dirt to get a force out at home with the bases loaded, and he called an excellent game for Marcum. We think...or we suppose...Maybe we're just piling on Zaunie here, but it seems to us as though Jays pitchers look more comfortable pitching to him.
Alex Rios is quietly turning things around: In his last seven games, Rios has scored eight runs and has 11 hits. While only two of those hits have been for extra bases, Rios is putting good wood on the ball and is keeping the line moving. His OPS this season is still sitting at about 100 points below last season's, but it has been ticking slowly upwards since his dreadful May, when he posted a .585 OPS.
Given his performance this season, we're coming around to the idea that instead of thinking of Rios as a a corner outfielder who mashes, maybe he should serve as the Jays' leadoff hitter going forward, somewhat in the vein of a Johnny Damon (in his prime): a leadoff guy who hits for average with a bit of pop and lots of speed. Assuming, of course, that the Jays have a better option next year in the middle of the lineup.