Not a great start.
Coming out of the All-Star break, the Jays needed a huge second half to make a run at a playoff spot. They couldn’t afford any slip-ups, nor any extended losing streaks. They absolutely needed a fast start.
Needless to say, a sweep by the Rays was not what they had in mind.
The season is now, for all intents and purposes, over.
Here are three things from week 16:
Week 16: July 15- July 21
Record: 0 – 3
1. Defeat From the Jaws of Victory
The weekend was a case of the good, the bad, and the ugly. The good was that Toronto was at least close in all three games against Tampa. The bad, obviously, was that they lost all three.
The ugly is the most frustrating – the Blue Jays likely could, and should, have swept the series. On Friday they got off to a roaring start, and led 4-1 after three innings, before folding in the middle innings and collapsing in the 8th and 9th. On Saturday, they trailed 4-2 but loaded the bases with nobody out in the 8th inning. Surely they would tie the game, and maybe even take the lead! But no – a foul out to the catcher by Rasmus, then back-to-back strikeouts by Izturis and Arencibia ended the inning. Not a single run. Game over. Finally on Sunday, R.A. Dickey looked outstanding except for back-to-back HR in the 6th. Still, the Jays had the tying run on second, with nobody out in the ninth, for Bautista / Encarnacion / Lind, and failed to bring it around. Brutal.
In a way, this past weekend perfectly sums up Toronto’s season. Losing games they should win, blowing scoring chances, putting up zeroes in spots where runs should be guaranteed. In essence, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
2. Pull the Life Support
I think it’s time ladies and gentlemen. It’s time to admit it. The 2013 Toronto Blue Jays are not going to make the playoffs. It was going to take a phenomenal second half for them to have a chance. I mentioned before that a 50-18 run was most likely mandatory. But after seeing the performance of the team on the weekend, I think it’s safe to say that it’s over.
The Jays are now actually closer to the Houston Astros than they are to the Boston Red Sox. Think about that – there is a better chance that Toronto slips to dead last in the American League than to the top of the AL East. For a team that put so much work into transforming the roster in the offseason, that is more than disappointing – it is unacceptable.
With the trade deadline coming up soon, it will be interesting to see what AA does. At this point, it’s safe to say that this season was a disaster, but it wasn’t only down to injury. The Yankees have been devastated by injury and are 6.5 games ahead of the Jays. It is more than injury. Maybe it’s a mindset that losing is acceptable since it’s been so long since the Jays made the playoffs. Maybe there are clubhouse issues. Maybe the players just aren’t very good. But with everybody ready to pull the plug on 2013, it’s obvious that 2014 has to be different.
3. The Lone Ranger
That is the new name for Colby Rasmus. In this rotten time where virtually the entire team is playing terribly, one man is rising above it all. Rasmus has finally started resembling the player the Jays thought they were acquiring a few years ago.
Over the weekend he went 3 for 12 with a double, but over the past 17 games he has been oustanding. He is sporting a .359 average, .984 OPS, with 2 HR, 11 RBI, 8 2B, and 9 R. His season OPS has risen from .765 to a robust .808 during that time. He has even put himself in contention to be in the conversation about the AL’s top CF.
In a weird kind of way, his recent surge might have come at a bad time for Jays fans, because with the Jays poised to be sellers at the deadline, Rasmus has suddenly become a very attractive option for contending teams. Toronto does have Anthony Gose in the minors, but I’d much prefer Colby playing like the way he is now, with great power, than Gose. Hopefully he is still here on August 1st.