The Jays continued their hot start to the season in week seven (May 24 – May 30). After dropping two of three to the Angels in Anaheim to start the week, they rebounded by sweeping away the horrendous Orioles back home, a good way to start off a nine game homestand. The Blue Jays need all of those wins because the going is about to get a lot tougher. The next 24 consecutive games are all against teams that are over .500, giving the club a great chance to prove that they are indeed for real this season.
Here are three things that came out of week seven:
1. Jose Bautista – Home Run Hitting Machine
While many baseball pundits are looking at Shaun Marcum, Vernon Wells, and Ricky Romero as the biggest reasons why the Jays are overachieving to this point, the biggest overachiever of all is still flying under the radar. After Sunday’s game, Bautista has 16 home runs, giving him the outright major league lead and tying his career high. He is showing no signs of slowing down either, if the last week is any indication. Bautista dominated the Angels and Orioles pitching staffs, hitting .333 with 2 HR, 3 RBI, 6 R, and an incredible .565 OBP by drawing 8 walks.
For those who think that his power pace is unsustainable, chew on this: this surge actually began at the end of last season. Bautista slugged 10 HR in September/October of 2009, giving him 26 from that point on. Those 26 HR are more than anybody in baseball over that stretch – including names such as Pujols, Rodriguez, Howard, and Braun. If he even keeps up a portion of his current pace his next stop could very well be Anaheim for the All Star game in July.
2. AL East is Insane
Everybody knew coming into the season that the AL East was the toughest division in baseball, but this is getting ridiculous. Eight teams across the entire league have 29 or more victories on the season, and four of them reside in the AL East. With a record of 30-22, Toronto would be in first place in the AL West, NL East, or NL West, but instead find themselves in third, only one game ahead of Boston who are fourth. With nine straight games on the schedule against Tampa and the Yankees beginning on Monday, the Jays will be getting their first true test against the elite teams of the division. They could be in first or fourth when that stretch is done.
But regardless of how they fare, Toronto has a legitimate argument to make for some kind of realignment or playoff system modification. If the season ended today, Toronto would finish sixth overall in the entire MLB yet miss the postseason. Texas, Philadelphia, and St. Louis – all with poorer records than Toronto – would qualify. One look at scenarios like that makes it very difficult not to cry foul. Maybe adding two additional wild card slots would help take away some of unfairness in the current system. But the chances of that happening? I would put it at 0%.
3. Perfection from the Doc
Technically this is cheating since he no longer plays for the Jays and this is a Blue Jays only feature. But Roy Halladay is still beloved in these parts, and his perfect game on Saturday will be celebrated all season long by Jays fans. The way that he mowed down the Marlins in order (11 K’s, 115 pitches) looked effortless, and seeing him smile at the end of the game brought back fond memories of his time here in Toronto. What made the game even more impressive was that it came after his worst start of the season, an 8-3 shellacking by the Red Sox.
When Halladay came within one out of a no-hitter in his second career start back in 1998, it looked like it was only a matter of time until he threw one. The only thing surprising about his perfect game was that it took him 12 years to finally get it. Unfortunately because of the G-20 summit forcing the Jays to move their series against the Phillies down to Philadelphia, Toronto fans won’t get a chance to truly show him our appreciation both for his time spent here and for his gem. Never-the-less, congratulations Doc!