After the Brewers’ demolition of the Blue Jays in Toronto on Opening Day, it was easy to get a bit cocky. The Brewers, after all, proved to be the superior team last season. And after one game, we were pretty certain nothing had changed.
One important detail did change, however. Rollie Fingers was beatable.
From June 2 on last year, Fingers allowed a grand total of three earned runs in 43 1/3 innings pitched for a ridiculous 0.65 ERA. If Rollie came into a game with the lead, that game was over. If he came in with a tie, he’d hold on until the Brewers scored, which rarely took long.
Yet, against the offensively challenged Toronto Blue Jays, Rollie Fingers was not perfect. He entered in the ninth of a 2-2 game and retired the Blue Jays relatively easily. But after his teammates were unable to score in the top of the tenth, things changed for Rollie in the bottom of the inning.
Damaso Garcia led off the inning with a liner that glanced off of Fingers’ glove for a hit. A liner, Fingers would later admit, that would have ended up in second baseman Jim Gantner‘s mitt had he left it alone. But it wasn’t all bad luck for Fingers. He simply lost command.
Lloyd Moseby bunted Garcia into scoring position, and Fingers then helped him along another 90 feet thanks to a wild pitch. A walk and a strikeout later, Barry Bonnell ended the game with a single into left center field to give the Blue Jays a 3-2 win.
The 11,000 “rabid fans” in Toronto “went wild.” Or at least the few thousand who stuck around to see the final run score.
Maybe it was a fluke. It probably was. Hopefully the 35-year-old Fingers can hop back on the horse tomorrow to flush away any needless doubt that may have crossed our minds.
A glimmer of light from this game was the performance of Mike Caldwell, the former ace who struggled mightily down the stretch last season and during the recent spring. He helped ease our nerves momentarily with a seven inning, two run performance, allowing 10 hits and no walks.
Was it the end of the world? Nope. Just a bump in the road. The Crew will bounce back and clean up this mess in the series finale tomorrow.
Game Notes: Combined with his three hits on Opening Day, Cecil Cooper is hitting .700 after two games … The first four Brewer batters (Paul Molitor, Charlie Moore, Cooper and Ben Oglivie) combined for all nine Brewers hits … Barry Bonnell, the hero of the game for the Blue Jays, went 5-for-5 … Dave Stieb shut down the powerful Brewers offense, limiting them to two runs on seven hits.