We made it.
After 86 games spread over three months in 14 different cities, after many good times, a lot of bad times, and a lot of mediocrity, after some stumbling, bumbling, and grumbling, the Toronto Blue Jays arrived at the All-Star break after beating the White Sox yesterday.
And they arrive at the break the exact same way they started the season – with the same numbers of wins and losses.
At 43 – 43, it wasn’t exactly a dynamite first half. This was a team that came into the season with great expectations of ending an 18-year playoff drought, and instead have found themselves fighting an uphill battle to simply stay afloat. Bad luck, brutal injuries, prolonged slumps, and stretches of bad play have condemned Toronto to last place in the AL East, 9.5 games back of the Yankees.
But there is good news. The addition of the second Wild Card spot means that Toronto is only 2.5 games out. They still have a chance, and a chance is all you can hope for.
We’re one good streak away…
Here are three things from week 14:
Week 14: July 2 – July 8
Record: 3 – 4
The record is 42 – 43.
The losing streak is at 3.
The offense has been thoroughly shut down in two straight games.
A loss would send Toronto into the All-Star break two games under .500, in dead last in the AL East, and reeling.
Safe to say that Sunday was a massive game? I think so.
The Jays responded with a huge effort, beating the White Sox 11-9 to get back to .500 and enter the break with their heads held at least somewhat high. Though the pitching staff tried its best to throw the game away on numerous occasions, the team held it together long enough to pick up the W.
While in reality it is only one game, there is something magical about the .500 mark. If Toronto would have dropped yesterday’s contest and entered the break at 42 – 44, it would have been panic for a majority of fans. It would have opened up a can of worms in terms of the trade deadline, being sellers, and throwing AA under the bus.
Thankfully, yesterday’s massive win avoided that scenario. When play resumes on Friday, the Jays will kick off the second half at the break even mark.
And wait for the next crisis to hit…
2. Another One Bites The Dust
It’s the bottom of the seventh inning of yesterday’s game. Toronto is clinging to an 11-8 lead in a see-saw affair in Chicago, and one of their most dependable relievers of 2012 is on the mound. After a leadoff double, Alexei Ramirez squibbles a weak groundball to short, and reaches first base on the infield single. While Jays fan bemoan the first and third, nobody out situation, things suddenly get worse – LHP Luis Perez is grabbing his pitching elbow, in severe pain.
Perez was placed on the DL after the game, and while the extent of the injury is unknown, the fact that he was placed on the DL going into the break with four days off (instead of after) signals that it’s serious. And if it is indeed serious, then lucky us! Another pitching injury is just what the Blue Jays needed!!
The Jays lost Jessie Litsch and Dustin McGowan before the season even started. Since then, they’ve lost Sergio Santos, Brandon Morrow, Drew Hutchison, Kyle Drabek, and now Perez. They’ve tried to cobble together a pitching staff with minor leaguers mixed with waiver wire pickups. And, sadly and shockingly, it’s not really working.
The good news is that Morrow is on his way back. The bad news is that nobody else is.
Find us a pitcher Alex!
3. Janssen = Dominating
With all the bad news, bad play, and all around crappiness that is the Toronto Blue Jays pitching staff these days, let us all pause for a moment and bow down to the amazingness that is Casey Janssen.
Can you imagine where Toronto would be without him?
Since taking over as Toronto’s closer for Francisco “I can’t throw” Cordero on May 9th, Janssen has been unbelievable. In 23 appearances, he has an ERA of 1.13, has allowed only 3 ER, has 24 K’s to 4 BB, a WHIP of 0.79, and an opponents OPS of only .489.
In save situations, his numbers have been even better. Ridiculous even:
12 for 12 in saves, 0.63 ERA, 0.42 WHIP, 14 strikeouts, 1 walk.
That’s right. 1 walk. ONE!!!
At a time when the bullpen is crumbling, Janssen has been a rock. In the past 28 days, he has an ERA of 0.77. The rest of the bullpen? Outside of Darren Oliver (0.84), not good. Not good at all.
Robert Coello: 18.69
Jason Frasor: 3.09
Luis Perez: 4,35
Scott Richmond: 6.00
Francisco Cordero: 6.48
Andrew Carpenter: 6.75
David Pauley: 9.95
Janssen has been so good, that I even forgot that Sergio Santos was even on the team.
A round of applause for another one of Toronto’s should-be All-Stars.