Heading into week 19, the pressure should have seemingly been off the Jays. It was pretty obvious that they were out of playoff contention, what with all the injuries and poor play, meaning there was no reason to squeeze the bats tighter.
In addition, with six games on tap against the two best teams in the AL East (Tampa and New York), the Jays had a chance to play spoilers, and have an impact on the AL East race.
A few days after ending a season long 6-game losing streak, the Jays promptly started another one, dropping the first five games of the week, before rebounding to win on Sunday. As of Monday morning, Toronto had dropped 11 of 13 games to fall miles behind both the AL East and Wild Card leaders.
But hey – at least the Red Sox are still in sight.
Here are three things from week 19:
Week 19: August 6 - August 12
Record: 1 – 5
1. Vanishing Offense
Coming into the week, the Blue Jays boasted one of the American League’s best and most potent offenses, trailing only Texas and Boston in runs scored. Then they went out and lost five straight games, scoring a total of only 10 runs in the process.
Of course, the lineup that Blue Jays fans grew accustomed to in the early part of the season – the one that scored the 3rd most amount of runs in the AL – and the one that took the field last week were vastly different. Toronto started David Cooper, Moises Sierra, Jeff Mathis, Omar Vizquel, and Adeiny Hechavarria in Thursday’s 7-1 drubbing at the hands of the Rays, netting a total of only three hits.
Through the first five games of the week, the Blue Jays offense was absolutely miserable. Non existent even:
10 runs scored (2 per game)
26 hits (5.2 per game)
8 extra-base hits (1.6 per game)
3 HR (0.6 per game)
42 strikeouts (8.4 per game)
It’s hard enough to beat Tampa Bay and New York with a full strength lineup. It’s even harder with a patchwork lineup.
But it’s downright impossible with a patchwork lineup that averages 5 hits a game.
2. Rajai Is Rockin’
You know it’s been a bad week when one of the top offensive contributors to the team hit .227 with only 5 hits. But that is exactly what Rajai Davis did last week: 5 for 22, .227 average, .729 OPS, 5 RBI, and 3 SB. Not dynamite numbers, but ones that shine mightily in comparison with the rest of the team.
Overall, it’s been a nice rebound year for Mr. Davis. As of Sunday night his OPS stood at .731, over 100 points higher than the .623 OPS he posted in 2011. Part of that reason is an OBP of .318, just below the league average of .321. Compared to last year, he is light years ahead as a hitter. The biggest drawback of Rajai has always been his inability to get on base at a consistent level. In 2011, an OBP of .273 cost him his starting OF job, and limited his effectiveness on the basepaths (only 34 stolen bases). He already has 33 SB in 2012, with still over a month-and-a-half to play.
On top of all that, he made one of the catches of the year on Sunday afternoon when he robbed Casey McGehee of a home run in the 7th inning. The Jays were up 10-4 at the time, and considering they hung on to only win by 3, the play was a huge one.
Hey – at least we had one highlight!
3. Is Romero Turning It Around?
There’s no secret what rock bottom was this season for Ricky Romero. July 25th, at home against Oakland. 1.1 IP. 8 ER. 6 BB. After Toronto’s 16-0 loss that night, Romero’s ERA stood at an awful 5.75.
Since that start, Romero has started three games, going 0-2 with a no decision, but his pitching lines are much, much better, culminating in Friday’s start against the Yankees. After a rough second inning, and a tough start to the third, Romero really settled down and completely stymied the Bombers, retiring the final 11 batters he faced.
In his past three starts overall, Ricky (despite the 0-2 record), has pitched 20.0 innings, allowing only 6 earned runs, for an ERA of 2.70. After posting a K:BB ratio of 15:16 in five starts from July 2 – July 25, he improved that to 14:9 in his past three starts – not amazing, but far better.
2012 appears to be a lost season for the team and Romero. But if he can re-discover his All-Star form in the next seven weeks, it would go a long way in increasing his confidence for 2013 – and fans optimism.