Not the greatest way to finish a road trip. The Jays had a tough week 20 (August 16 – 22), going 2-4 to conclude a 9-game road trip through Anaheim, Oakland, and Boston at 4-5. Toronto continues to struggle against the Red Sox, and now sit a dismal 4-11 versus their AL East division rivals.
After going on a surge a few weeks ago, the Blue Jays have been treading water recently, winning 5 of their past 12 games to drop 11.5 games back of Tampa Bay in the Wild Card chase. With only 39 games remaining in the 2010 season, Toronto’s hopes for an unlikely playoff spot look bleak. But with a record seven games better than last year, heads should be held high.
Here are three things that came out of week 20:
1. Sweet Swingin’ Overbay
What a weekend for Lyle. Toronto’s first baseman obliterated Boston pitching, single-handedly winning Friday’s contest and carrying the Jays into extra innings on Saturday. For the series Overbay was 5 for 10, with 4 R, 3 HR, 9 RBI, a .500 average, .615 OBP, and 2.015 OPS. Very impressive.
What’s more impressive, however, is the way Lyle has responded to his horrendous early season slump. After going 0 for 3 against the Orioles on May 28, Overbay’s average stood at .197, his OPS at .608. In the 73 games he has played since that date, Lyle has batted .293 with 12 HR and a .896 OPS to raise his season average to .252. He has given the Jays a dependable bat in the middle or bottom of the order.
Once it seemed like trading him was a no-brainer. Now it seems like his roster spot is safe.
2. Welcome Back Buck
One of the most pleasant surprises of this year’s squad made his return from the DL on Friday night. And what a return it was. Fresh off a rehab stint at double-A where he hit 2 HR and 6 RBI in three games, Buck returned to the lineup with authority going 5 for 9 with 4 runs, 3 RBI, and a 1.167 OPS.
His return means that (thankfully) Jose Molina will get fewer starts. While Molina has done a great job this year, there is something depressing about having to watch him run the bases. Buck’s return also gives J.P. Arencibia a chance to gain further seasoning in Las Vegas. But it won’t be long until JPA is back – rosters expand September 1.
3. What Happened to the Bats?
Overbay, Buck, and WTF? Seriously. Take away Friday nights beautiful demolition of the effing Red Sox, and Toronto’s offense went AWOL in the past week. Not including the 16-2 win on Friday, the Jays only scored a total of 13 runs in five games. Three of those runs came in the ninth inning rally that ultimately fell short on Wednesday, meaning Toronto scored 10 runs in the other 46 innings played last week.
It’s hard enough to beat Boston already this year, but falling short against Oakland really stings. Though the A’s have the toughest starting rotation in baseball, their offense has been non-existent – Kurt Suzuki’s 12 HR leads the team. But for one series they were able to outslug Toronto, something nobody could have predicted. When Coco Crisp finishes a series with a significantly higher slugging percentage than MLB’s home run leader, something is seriously wrong.