Three Things From Week Thirteen

Wang

THUD.

That was the sound made by the Blue Jays as they came crashing back to Earth after an 11-game winning streak. 

It was a miserable week.  With seven games against Tampa and Boston, and riding high on the franchise record-tying streak, the Jays had a chance to do some real damage in the AL East.  If everything went right, there was even a slight chance they could have ended the week in first place. 

But after winning only twice on the trip, they find themselves once again back in the cellar, under .500, and heading in the wrong direction. 

Hopefully seven home games against the struggling Tigers and the terrible Twins will right the ship, and push the team forward as they begin the second half.

Here are three things from week 13:

Week 13: June 24 – June 30

Record: 2 – 5

1. Half Way Home

With Sunday’s gut wrenching, nut kicking, ninth inning loss to Boston, the Toronto Blue Jays officially ended the first half of the season with a sub-.500 record.  At 40 – 41, it is obvious that the team is nowhere near where they hoped and thought they would be.  Injuries, sloppy defense, horrific slumps, and inconsistency plagued the club through the first 81 games, and while the play has been better lately, they are still buried in the basement.

That is the bad news.

The good news is this: there are still 81 games left to play.  And consider the following:

– 3/5 of the starting rotation has spent time on the disabled list

– 12 different pitchers have started a game

– Emilio Bonifacio has been utterly horrendous

– The left side of the infield (Reyes and Lawrie) has yet to play a single inning together

Taking that into account, the fact that the Jays find themselves only one game below .500 and within striking distance of both the division lead and a wild card spot is amazing.  If the team can return to health, and the pitching holds up, there’s no reason to think the second half can’t be magical.

Yes those are big ifs, but I’d rather have some kind of a chance than have nothing.

2. Welcome Back Reyes!

Jays fans were treated to a glorious sight on Wednesday afternoon – the return of the electric Jose  Reyes.  After being sidelined by a badly sprained ankle since April 12th (only 10 games into the season), Reyes returned to the leadoff spot and instantly made the Jays a much better team.

Forget the fact that he went a combined 0 for 6 in his first two games back.  His mere presence is enough to make the Jays better.  The electricity that he brings to the team, especially at the top of the lineup, adds an entirely new element to the club that wasn’t there before. 

It will probably take a while for him to fully get going, but he started getting his timing back on Friday, and ended up going 4 for 14 with 4 runs scored and a home run over the weekend.  Once he is back in full flight, Toronto becomes one of the most dangerous offensive teams in baseball.  Another winning streak could be just around the corner.

3. Dickey Up, Everybody Else Down

That’s more like it!  After showing us short glimpses of brilliance this season, R.A. Dickey finally put it all together on Wednesday, dominating Tampa Bay in a 3-0 victory.  Dickey went the distance, firing a complete game 2 hit shutout, walking only one and striking out 6.  He registered a “Maddux” – a complete game shutout with fewer than 100 pitches (he only needed 93).

But as fun as that was, the rest of the week didn’t go very well for Toronto’s starters.  Esmil Rogers threw a great game on Saturday, but surrendered back-to-back-to-back home runs on Monday night in a loss.  Mark Buehrle made two starts, and while he wasn’t awful, he wasn’t sharp either.  Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Josh Johnson or Chien-Ming Wang.  Johnson couldn’t make it out of the fourth inning on Friday night, but still did much better than Wang who was crushed by the Red Sox on Thursday.  Wang allowed 7 earned runs on 6 hits and 2 walks, and recorded only 5 outs.  It was ugly.

Overall, not including Dickey, the rotation put up a 7.71 ERA with a 1.96 WHIP last week.  They only managed to throw 28 innings in 6 starts, and allowed a staggering 42 hits.  With numbers like that, it’s no surprise the team slumped to a 2-5 week.

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