06/30/12 1:14 AM ET
Oliver on pace for stellar season in Toronto
By Chris Toman / MLB.com
The 41-year-old, whom the Blue Jays acquired as a free agent in the offseason, has posted the best ERAs of his career in each of the past four years, and 2012 has been no different.
Through 32 appearances with Toronto, and 28 1/3 innings after a 7-5 win on Friday, Oliver is sporting a team-best 1.59 ERA and 0.92 WHIP, which would both be the top marks of his 19-year career.
The Blue Jays knew Oliver could be a key piece to the bullpen, but even skipper John Farrell admits the southpaw has given Toronto even more than it could have possibly asked for.
"He can do a lot of different things with the ball," Farrell said. "He can cut some balls in on some guys, change speeds with his curveball to get guys to chase, sink the ball away from a given hitter. I think initially, when we signed him, we had visions of, 'OK this is someone who can come in and get a lefty out,' but when you look at what he is doing against right-handers, it's of equal efficiency."
Oliver is actually pitching better against righties than left-handers. He is holding lefties to a very solid .229 batting average, but that number is even stingier against right-handers. Righties are hitting just .160 off Oliver.
He is also averaging more than a strikeout per inning and has recorded seven holds on the season.
Farrell believes Oliver's awareness on the mound has played a big factor in the success he has enjoyed in the latter stages of his career.
"He knows how to manage situations and when to pitch around a guy in a different spot," Farrell said. "He has such a feel for reading swings. ... He has good stuff, too. It's a testament to not only his intelligence on the mound, but the way he has kept himself in shape. ... He has done a heck of a job."
Initial reports positive on Moyer's first outing
TORONTO -- Jamie Moyer's bid to crack Toronto's 25-man roster started on the right foot.
The 49-year-old made his first start at Triple-A Las Vegas on Thursday and picked up the win after lasting five innings, surrendering three runs on seven hits. Moyer, who walked one and struck out six, threw 51 of his 82 pitches for strikes.
All the runs Moyer allowed came in the first two innings, off home runs, but he settled down after that, and the news Blue Jays manager John Farrell received on him was encouraging.
"Just by the linescore and brief report, the first [start] was a positive one," Farrell said.
When the Blue Jays inked Moyer, he agreed to make a two-start audition with Las Vegas, then have his future with the club decided. Farrell says that still remains the plan, and the team will "respond accordingly" after Moyer's next outing.
With the injuries the team has sustained to its starting staff, if Moyer can turn in another solid performance during his next start with the 51s, he will likely put himself in a good position to get a look with the Blue Jays. Farrell said the only way Moyer would come to Toronto, in all likelihood, would be as a starter.
"More starter, out of respect to him," Farrell said, when asked if there was a chance Moyer could pitch out of the bullpen. "Not having a chance to speak with him directly, I would think the rest and recovery period would be helpful. So, that's what we are looking at."
Moyer began the season with the Rockies, was released, then was signed and released by the Orioles, before agreeing to terms with Toronto. He is 2-5 this season at the Major League level, with a 5.70 ERA.
The crafty lefty, whose fastball was sitting between 78-81 mph according to Farrell, missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
"He is going to pitch as we've seen the last few years. He's going to work off his changeup, he's going to locate and sink the ball and pitch with a lot of savvy.
"He's a very unique pitcher, there is no doubt about that," Farrell said. "From the longevity of the career, to come back from Tommy John so late -- late in life and late in a career. He pitches to get outs. ... He has a wealth of knowledge and experience to tap into and we will see where this goes."
Blue Jays have rousing Canada Day plans
TORONTO -- Fans can enjoy their Canada Day by ringing in the festivities at Rogers Centre, where the Blue Jays will conclude their four-game series with the Angels on Sunday.
The time of the game has been pushed back from its usual 1:07 p.m. ET start to 3:07 p.m., and there will be a free Canada Day street festival outside Rogers Centre prior to first pitch.
Toronto will wear special red Canada Day uniforms like it has in years past to celebrate Canada's birthday.
The street festival starts at noon and will be held on Bremner Blvd. and will feature live music, family entertainment, food, a licenced area and a variety of games and prizes for all ages.
There is more to the day, as well, as the Blue Jays will honor the Canadian Forces throughout the game and with a pregame ceremony. The pregame festivities will include members of the Canadian Forces, as well as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. In addition, members from the Vimy Foundation and the bands of the 48th Highlanders will be in attendance.
In anticipation of the upcoming Olympic Games in London, the Blue Jay will also honor 14 members of the Canadian Olympic Team that are bound for London 2012.
There will also be giveaways during the game. Three fans will be selected for a chance to win a 2012 Honda Civic Si, courtesy of Honda Canada. The winner will be selected from three finalists in the sixth inning.
Chris Toman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.