It was called many things. “The week of doom.” “The week of truth.” “Make-it or break-it week.” Week nine of the MLB season (May 31 – June 6) was huge for the Jays: three games against the best-in-baseball Tampa Bay Rays, and three against the defending World Series champion New York Yankees. This week was supposed to tell us if Toronto was for real or playing way over their heads.
What can we conclude at the end of the week? Wel to be honest, not a whole lot. It was only one week. There are still 104 games to play this season, meaning that each successive week is just as important, or more so, than the week before it. But through 58 games, the Jays stand eight games over the .500 mark. I don’t think anybody thought they’d hear that.
Here are three things that came out of week nine:
1. Mission Accomplished
Last night I heard many things from many people, most of it disappointment. It’s true – the Jays blew three of the six games against the two top teams in the league. Ninth inning meltdowns on Tuesday and Wednesday against Tampa stung, but the eighth inning debacle against New York yesterday might have hurt even more. Fans wanted that sweep, especially since thousands of Yankees fans invaded Toronto to see the games. But to be upset that Toronto didn’t sweep all SIX games against the Rays and Yanks? That is absurd.
In March, when looking at the schedule, many would have been fine with winning two games considering how bad the Jays were “supposed” to be. Last Monday morning I woke up, considered the upcoming schedule, and said I would be happy with a split. Well, the Jays got the split, and although they will be disappointed in themselves by not winning more, I’m sure they would have taken a split going into both series. If anything the games against the Yankees showed Toronto’s grit, heart, and character. Something tells me that if the 2009 Jays blew back-to-back ninth inning leads against Tampa, they would have folded up the tent. Resiliency is a good sign in a winner.
2. Trouble with Tampa – Blue Jay bullpen woes
After Sunday’s tough loss to the Yankees, many were quick to criticize the bullpen. But before you react too soon, consider that Toronto actually has (statistically speaking anways) a decent bullpen. They are tied for 16th in all of baseball with a 4.20 ERA, ahead of teams such as Boston, Anaheim, Oakland, and Cincinnati, and just behind the Yankees (4.19). Relievers have combined for a 9-10 record and 148 strikeouts, putting them ahead of contending teams like Philadelphia, the Yankees, Minnesota, St. Louis, Boston, and Colorado in that regard.
The problem with Toronto’s bullpen can be summed up in one word – Tampa. Against the Rays, Toronto’s bullpen has been brutal: 18.00 ERA, 13 walks, 12 strikeouts, and 24 hits allowed in only 11 innings. Horrendous. Only Shawn Camp has had any sort of success against Tampa (0.00 ERA in 2 IP). Kevin Gregg (12.00 ERA), Jason Frasor (31.50 ERA), Scott Downs (27.00 ERA), and Casey Janssen (81.00 ERA) have been downright atrocious. Take out the record against Tampa and Toronto’s team bullpen ERA drops to 3.19. And while the pen will still be villified for their collapse against the Yankees yesterday, don’t forget that they didn’t pitch badly in the series against New York – 3 ER in 9 IP, including 6 scoreless innings in Saturday’s marathon. They might not intimidate, but they have actually been effective.
3. Paging Aaron Hill…Paging Adam Lind…
The Blue Jays sit tied for third in the AL East, 33-25, and only 4.5 games back of division leading Tampa. And they’re doing virtually all of it without their two best players from 2009. At this point last season (through the games of June 6th), Adam Lind was smoking the ball to the tune of a .311 average, .908 OPS, 9 HR, and 39 RBI. This season? A far different story: .210 average, .649 OPS, 8 HR, and 30 RBI. Unfortunately, the same thing can be said about 2009 Comeback Player of the Year Aaron Hill. Through June 6th, 2009: .309 average, .825 OPS, 12 HR, 38 RBI. Through June 6th, 2010: .186 average, .644 OPS, 8 HR, 19RBI.
Hill appeared to be snapping out of his funk last week, going 8 for 20 in the first five games of the Tampa/NY series’. But he grounded into a decisive double play with the tying run on first in the eighth inning yesterday to kill any potential rally, a situation he thrived in last season. Lind looks lost at the plate, especially against left handed pitching where he is hitting a miserable .102 (6 for 59) with 25 strikeouts (he hit .275 vs. lefties last year). He looked particularly brutal against Tampa lefty Randy Choate in several key situations last week. While a pessimist will say that last year was a fluke, an optimist will say watch out for the Jays when these two finally get it going. same sites . expired domains . apache web server . link checker .