The beat goes on for the Jays. After a 6-1 week five (May 3 – May 9) Toronto finds itself in third place in the AL East, 19-14 overall and 2.5 games ahead of the Red Sox. With a three game set ready to begin tonight in Fenway, the Jays have a chance to extend that lead and keep Boston’s early season misery going.
Here are three things about the Jays from week five:
1. Comeback Kids
Sunday’s four-run outburst in the ninth inning propelled by Fred Lewis’ second home run of the season gave the Jays a most improbable comeback victory. In total, Toronto has now comeback 11 times this season, including three times from a ninth inning deficit – twice last week alone. On Wednesday it was Adam Lind taking Chris Perez deep with two outs in the ninth to turn a 4-3 hole into a 5-4 advantage. Last season the Jays had a total of 34 comeback wins for the entire season and looked lost when trailing late in games. 72 times they trailed entering the ninth inning, and only came back to win three of those games – a total they have already matched this year through only 33 games. The Jays are truly becoming comeback kings.
On May 10th of last season, Vernon Wells was hitting .286 with 5 HR and 21 RBI. On May 10th this year, Vernon has a .339 average, with 9 HR and 26 RBI. Though the numbers look similar, the story is completely different. Wells is playing with much more confidence – a fact that is obvious while watching his at bats. Gone are the flailing strikeouts where he misses a pitch by feet, not inches. Gone are the looks of frustration after failing to drive in a runner on base. Gone is the sense of foreboding that fans had when the pitcher had Vernon in an 0-2 hole. This season he is smiling, having fun, and making solid contact. Even games when he goes 0-4 he makes loud outs by stinging the ball to defenders. Now that his confidence is back, the fans have renewed confidence in him.
3. Finally – the emergence of Travis Snider
It took a while, but the next big thing Travis Snider finally appears to be living up to the hype. In what was supposed to be his coming out party last year, Snider crumbled to a .241 average and was sent down to AAA Las Vegas to regain his form. But within the cure also lies the problem – Snider crushes minor league pitching. In only 48 games back in AAA in 2009, Travis hit .337 with a .663 slugging percentage, including 14 HR and 40 RBI. Clearly he had acquired all the seasoning he possibly could. It seemed obvious that Snider had to perform this year or be stuck in baseball purgatory – too good for the minors, not good enough for the big leagues. Despite early season struggles, Cito stuck with him and that patience has been repaid. In the past seven days Travis has gone 12/28 for a .429 average, 6 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, and a stolen base. His average has risen from .149 to .225 during that span. The youngster may have arrived.