Week 24 (September 13 – 19) was a backwards week for the Blue Jays. Used to beating up on the Orioles and getting crushed by Boston, the Jays completely reversed course. They were swept by Baltimore, a team they were 12-0 against prior to the series, before taking two of three from the Red Sox, a team they were a dismal 4-11 against.
It seems hard to believe but only 13 games remain in the 2010 season. The Jays kick off their final homestand this week, a 9-game stretch that will bring an end to the Cito era. A plus .500 finish would be a good note to go out on.
Here are three things from week 24:
1. Bye Bye Bell
It was bound to happen at some point, but nobody expected Jose Bautista to be the one to break George Bell’s team home run record. Bautista continued his incredible season by belting his 48th bomb on Friday night at Fenway, moving past Bell and into sole possession of Toronto’s record. He then went out and padded his lead the next night by swatting his 49th – his third home runof the week.
Bautista now leads all of baseball in home runs by a whopping 10 (Albert Pujols has 39), and he is 12 ahead of the next closest man (Paul Konerko) in the AL. His 114 RBI’s put him in second place in the majors trailing only Miguel Cabrera by 5. Number 50 is just around the corner, and with 13 games remaining he has a chance to hit a few more. If (when) he gets to 50, it will be only the 42nd time in major league history that that number will be reached.
Not bad for a guy we acquired for a minor league catcher…
2. The Sixth Man
Much to the chagrin of Shaun Marcum, it appears as if the Jays will go to a six-man rotation to finish off the regular season. Marcum will be joined by Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil, Marc Rzepczynski, Shawn Hill, and Kyle Drabek, a move meant to limit the innings numbers on Toronto’s young staff.
While the move makes sense in theory, in practice it has not started well. Marcum pitched fairly well against Tampa Bay last Sunday, but then was shelled by the Red Sox in his next start on Sunday (5.1 IP, 6 ER). The extra day of rest didn’t help Cecil’s recent struggles either, as he was touched up by Boston for 5 ER in 6 IP on Friday.
The race for the fifth spot in the rotation next year is wide open, but the late season performance by those in contentiion is making a decision extremely difficult.
3. Battle for Futility
It has been a very tough season for Aaron Hill. The second baseman has been injured, and has had a difficult time both at the plate and in the field. Though his production is still there (24 HR), the batting average is atrocious. A disastrous .091 week (1 for 11) has seen it drop to a putrid .211.
It is obvious that he has no chance to raise the average to a respectable number this year, but there is much incentive for him to try and figure things out at the plate in the final 13 games. As it stands right now, Hill ranks 72nd in the American League in batting average amongst all players with enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title. That puts him in second last, ahead of only Carlos Pena of the Rays, who is hitting .202 (as at September 20).
Hill will no doubt look back at this season and be disappointed with his batting average. But hopefully trying to avoid the tag of “worst in baseball” will be enough motivation to keep him going in the final 13 games.