What a difference a week makes.
At this time last week, questions were flying around about the state of the Jays. Coming off a first class thumping by old rivals Detroit, there was sudden uncertainty surrounding the offense, the pitching, and even the manager. With the Red Sox coming to town, there was talk of the season being on the line…in May!
Well good news: the season is saved! Combine gutsy late inning heroics, dominant starting pitching, Target Field, and a man currently being called the BEST player in baseball, and you get a red hot Jays team back at the .500 mark.
Here are three things from week 7.
Week 7: May 9 – 15
Record: 5 – 1
1. Just When You Thought He Couldn’t Get Any Better…
I don’t know if it’s even possible to describe the type of zone that Jose Bautista is in right now.
Pat Tabler said yesterday that he should be called up to another league because he is simply toying with major league pitchers right now.
After watching him swing the bat last week it’s hard to argue with him.
J-Bau produced an other-worldly week at the plate. The numbers are staggering. In the six games Toronto played he went 11 for 26, with 5 walks, 6 HR, 9 RBI, 8 R, and 2 2B. The hitting ratios are equally absurd, looking more like stats from a video game: .423 AVG / .516 OBP / 1.192 SLG / 1.708 OPS. Boom.
Through May 15th, Jose Bautista leads the American League in the following statistical categories:
– WAR (3.9 – 2nd place = 2.6)
– Average (.368 – 2nd place = .368)
– On Base % (.520 – 2nd = .440)
– Slugging (.868 – 2nd = .633)
– OPS (1.388 – 2nd = 1.040)
– Runs (34 – 2nd = 31)
– Total Bases (99 – 2nd = 94)
– HR (16 – 2nd = 13)
– Walks (35 – 2nd = 32)
– Extra Base Hits (24 – 2nd = 23)
By my count that’s 10 different categories where he is at the top, and that doesn’t even include advanced statistics like Situational Wins Added, or Win Probability Added. Oh – and he’s also missed eight games so far.
But to me the most impressive and important statistic from Bautista last week is 5, as in the number of wins the Jays had. Coming off a horrible week, there really was a sense in the city that the season was starting to slip away. But Jose lifted the entire team on his shoulders and refused to let 2011 get out from under us. That is a true leader.
2. Five and Counting
After getting smacked around by Max Scherzer and the Tigers on Monday, the Jays sat in a tie with Baltimore for dead last in the AL East, 5.5 games behind the Yankees and falling quickly.
But something seemed to click in time for Tuesday’s game. Suddenly the Jays can’t lose. But the best (and most encouraging) part is that the Jays refuse to lose.
They blew a lead in the 9th on Tuesday. The game was starting to slip away from them on Wednesday, a 3-run lead chipped down to 1 in the 7th. They survived a late rally on Friday to secure a 2-0 win in Minnesota, before coming back late and winning in extra’s on Saturday. Whereas earlier in the season Toronto might have found ways to lose those games, last week they found ways to win.
The five game winning streak is a season high, and they get a chance to extend it to 6 tonight against the very same man who handed them their last loss – Max Scherzer and the Detroit Tigers.
3. Target Practice at Target Field
Just as spinach is to Popeye, so is Target Field to the Blue Jays.
The team has now played 7 games at Target Field (4 in 2010, 3 last week), and done nothing but tear the cover off the ball.
The record is 6-1, with the Jays scoring 47 runs on 73 hits. The most impressive stat of all is the 16 HR the team has hit. Again, that is 16 HR. In 7 games. HR King Bautista has now hit seven career home runs in seven career games in Minnesota.
Toronto looked so dominant on the weekend, that even current Twins colour analyst (and former Blue Jays pitcher) Jack Morris was disgusted by Minnesota’s performance when visiting the Sportsnet announce booth.
Sadly, the Blue Jays have played their last game in Minnesota for the season. Toronto fans will have to wait for 2012 for the next round of batting practice to occur.
Unless this winning streak continues, and we see them in the playoffs….
Dare to dream.