Not how we drew it up.
I think that is the way Jays fans can summarize last week, a week where expectations far exceeded actual on-field performance. When your team plays seven against the Rangers and the Angels, then follows that up with six against Oakland and Minnesota, it’s fair to expect the latter set of games to turn out better. Not the case for Toronto.
As they say: that’s why you play the games.
Here are three things from week 6:
Week 6: May 7 – May 13
Record: 3 – 3
1. Opportunity Lost
Quick thought: with the pitching the Blue Jays have received this year, how many games would you expect the club to win when they play six against the two worst offensive teams in the American League? If you said “at least four” you’re likely in the overwhelming majority.
And you’re also disappointed.
Toronto could only manage a 3- 3 split against Oakland and Minnesota last week, and while going .500 on a road trip is never a bad thing (3 – 3 last week, and 5 – 5 total) they’ll feel there should have been more. Yes, Oakland was above .500 and suprisingly competitive coming into the series, but they were an offensively challenged team missing their biggest offensive weapon after Yoenis Cespedes hit the DL with a hand injury. Minnesota was the worst team in all of baseball when the Jays came to town, and they were hurt by the loss of Justin Morneau with a wrist injury.
But still, both teams earned a split against Toronto, which has to go down as an opportunity lost. The Jays had a chance in all three of the games they lost – blowing a lead in the ninth in one, and leaving the tying run stranded in scoring position in the ninth in the other two – but came up just a bit short.
It makes things even more frustrating when you consider the upcoming schedule. The next 16 games come against opponents (Tampa Bay, New York Yankees, New York Mets, Texas, and Baltimore) with a combined record of 125 – 83.
No cupcakes there…
2. Slowly But Surely
He entered 2012 as one of the most feared hitters in baseball. He finished April as one the most disappointing.
But Jose Bautista looks like he is slowly but surely rounding back into form. In six games last week he produced a batting line more in line with what we have come to expect from him: 6 for 22, .273 average, .385 OBP, 1.066 OPS, 3 HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB and only 1 K. The week improved his season average 15 points to .198, and his season OPS 69 points to .737.
May has been a much better month for Jose. While his batting average is still low, his production has greatly improved. Bau finished April with a .634 OPS, but has exploded for a .938 OPS in May. Obviously we’d like to see more HR from him, but the fact remains that after last week Bautista is now sitting T-6 in the AL in homers. His 8 bombs are more than Miguel Cabrera, Mike Napoli, David Ortiz, Adrian Beltre, Prince Fielder, Carlos Pena, Mark Teixeira, Adrian Gonzalez, and Albert Pujols have hit.
Put in that context, Jose doesn’t look that bad at all. And he’s only getting better.
3. One Streak Ends…But One Begins
It was bound to end at some point, especially considering the youth and inexperience of the Jays rotation. The fact that it even lasted as long as it did has to qualify as a surprise. I’m talking about Toronto’s streak of having a starter go at least five innings in a game, a streak that ended at 34 on Friday night in Minnesota. Kyle Drabek lasted only 4.1 IP, and funny enough I thought that it was one of his most impressive starts of the season.
That he didn’t have his best stuff was obvious from the beginning, when he walked the bases loaded in the first inning. But he allowed a total of four walks and four hits, yet only three runs. It was a text book case of pitching out of trouble, something his five strikeouts greatly assisted in. I thought it was his most impressive start because of what could have been. The 2011 version of Drabek would have folded up shop in the first inning, probably walked a few more and maybe given up one or two game-changing hits. He wouldn’t have made it out of the inning and the Jays would have been behind big time. Instead, he kept the team in the game, a game they very nearly won.
And just in case anybody else in baseball thought that Friday was the speed bump that would collapse Toronto’s pitching machine, think again. A new streak has already started as Hutchison threw 6 innings on Saturday, followed by 5.1 IP from Romero yesterday.
2 down, 32 to go…