The Jays rebounded in a big way during week 11 (June 14 – June 20), winning four of six against NL West contenders San Diego and San Francisco. After being lit up last week against Colorado and Tampa, this is exactly the type of response that Blue Jays fans were hoping for. In late June, nearing the mid-point of the season, Toronto is still hanging in the pennant race, sitting only 5.5 games back of the Yankees for first in the AL East, and only 4.5 games back of Tampa Bay and Boston in the Wild Card chase. It looks like we might be treated to an entertaining summer after all.
Here are three things that came out of week 11 of the season:
1. Busy Anthopoulos
Quite a week for Toronto’s rookie GM. Not only did he get some good news on the field with a 4-2 record and a near home sweep of the Giants, he also got some good news at the gate, as the Jays attracted over 60,700 fans for the series against San Francisco – impressive considering Toronto’s downtown core (especially near the dome) resembles a war zone due to the G20 Summit. But AA also had some very good news off the field as well.
Staring straight in the face of JP Ricciardi’s 2009 draft pick fiasco (where he failed to sign three of the first four picks), AA got off to a great start by signing 18 of his 56 picks in six days, including three of the first four. He then followed up his draft pick signings by making a few roster moves – signing infielder Nick Green and optioning Mike McCoy to AAA Vegas, then designating Edwin Encarnacion for assignment, recalling Jarrett Hoffpauir, and activating Scott Richmond from the DL. Sending McCoy down was a smart move to help with his development, but the EE move has proven to be controversial. This was the same type of move made with Rios last year that came back to bite them in a big way. AA is confident that EE will not be claimed on waivers due to his high salary and horrendous performance, but stranger things have happened. All in all, a risky move, but just another one in a busy week for our GM.
2. Alomar and Quantrill Inducted
So this doesn’t necessarily relate to on-field performance, but I want to take a moment to recognize the achievement of Paul Quantrill and Roberto Alomar. Both were inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame on the weekend in St. Mary’s, Ontario. Quantrill appeared in 841 MLB games in his career, 35th on the all time list, ahead of such notable names as Nolan Ryan and Walter Johnson. 386 of those appearances came in a Blue Jays uniform between 1996 and 2001, where he became known as one of the best relief pitchers in the game.
Alomar is of course one of the greatest Blue Jays of all time. His enshrinement comes as no suprise, as he will likely be making an induction speech into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in a year or two. Alomar has always represented the Blue Jays, the city of Toronto, and Canada with dignity and class, and recent rumours might have him joining the Jays in an official capacity sometime soon.
Overall, a great week for both players, and a great honour. For more detail on the ceremony, please refer to the Blue Jay Hunter, who was in St. Mary’s.
3. Happy Father’s Day Johnny Mac
One of the most difficult weeks in John McDonald’s life took place last week. The fan favourite was placed on the bereavement list after the unfortunate passing of his father Jack on Tuesday morning at the young age of 60. After spending the past two weeks away from the team, Johnny Mac rejoined the Jays on Saturday, the day after his father’s funeral, and saw his first game action on Sunday – which just happened to be Father’s Day.
Stepping to the plate in the bottom of the 9th, with the Jays down by six, Johnny laced the second pitch he saw into the bullpen for his first home run of the season. The blast sent the Rogers Centre into a frenzy, and the fact that Toronto lost the game was forgotten as the moment was so special. Post game, McDonald held back tears describing the bomb, saying it was difficult because he couldn’t call his Dad after the game to tell him about it. Though the week was tough, the finish was perfect, and it couldn’t have happened to a better guy.