Today I bring to you sad, sad news.
The 2012 MLB season is essentially over for your Toronto Blue Jays. The team is currently 53 – 55, losers of two straight games, and sitting in dead last in the AL East.
Today’s lineup is enough to make a grown man cry: Davis, Rasmus, Encarnacion, Escobar, Cooper, Sierra, Mathis, Vizquel, Hechavarria. At the beginning of the season, three of those players were bench players, and three were in the minors.
Let’s face it. We’re not going to catch Tampa Bay or Baltimore (I can’t believe I’m writing that!). We’re not going to catch the Yankees, the Tigers, or the White Sox. We’re not going to win more than the Angels, A’s, or Rangers. There is no hope for a Wild Card birth. We’re sunk.
But as sad as that may seem, the games are not over.
There is still one team that the Toronto Blue Jays can catch.
And because of that, there is still one very important thing on the line, a thing I refer to as “The Bet”.
On April 7th of this year, after the Jays gutted out a 7-4, 12 inning victory in Cleveland to improve to 2-0, a very important wager was placed between myself and a friend, and two Boston Red Sox fans.
The bet was simple. We bet that the Blue Jays would finish ahead of Boston in the standings. They bet the opposite.
The prize? A case of beer….each. That’s right, if Toronto finishes behind the Sox, I owe not one, but two cases of beer.
Ladies and gentlemen, the stakes are massive, and the competition is intense.
Things looked great early on. After finishing off a 4-game sweep of the Royals on April 23rd, the Jays were 10-6, 4.5 games up on Boston. At the end of April, the teams were close, but the Jays still had the upper hand, 0.5 games up. It wasn’t until June 2nd that the Red Sox finally caught and overtook Toronto, in a head-to-head series at the Rogers Centre.
But the season race between the two has been close. Very, very close. The biggest lead the Jays have had was 5.5 games, achieved on May 10th when the Jays were 18-14 and Boston was 12-19. Toronto’s biggest deficit came on June 19th, a gap of 2.5 games. As it stands right now, the two clubs are separated by a mere game, with Toronto having two games in hand.
It’s not really surprising that these two bitter enemies have been so closely matched all season. Both have great offenses (Boston’s 551 runs scored ranks 2nd in the AL, Toronto is 4th with 525). Both have sub-par pitching staffs (Boston is 11th in runs allowed with 519, the Jays are 12th with 520).
The Jays injury situation has been well documented, but Boston has been hit hard too. Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Cody Ross, Carl Crawford, David Ortiz, and Clay Buchholz (among others) have all spent time on the DL. In fact, the Red Sox have used a total of 47 players thus far in 2012 (pitchers included) close to Toronto’s total of 50.
Finally, both teams have been hit hard by their so called “aces”. Ricky Romero has an ERA of 5.47 and has lost seven straight decisions, not the kind of numbers one would expect from the #1 guy in the rotation. One of Boston’s biggest strengths was the thought that they had two aces in the starting staff in Josh Beckett and Jon Lester. Both have been horrendous. Lester is 5-10 with a 5.36 ERA, and Beckett isn’t much better, struggling along at 5-9 with a 4.97 ERA.
So it appears that these two teams will be close right down to the wire. Neither seems to be able to put together a big streak and separate from the other.
What might decide it in the end is mid-September. Toronto visits Fenway Park for a three-game set from September 7-9, and Boston comes to TO from Sep. 14-16.
The winner of those series might just end up determining “The Bet”.
And I hope it’s the Blue Jays helping me to fill my belly with beer.