If anybody out there had any hope, any vision of a miracle that the Jays would go on a massive run and make the playoffs, I think we can all agree that those hopes are dead.
It’s not that Toronto had a terrible week. A 3 – 3 record while playing three games on the west coast, and three against the AL West leaders is never bad. It’s just that the Jays need to start going 6 – 0 in order to move back up the standings.
And they certainly can’t continue to waste chances like they did in yesterday’s game. The team left 15 men on base, including three in the 9th inning, and fell to the A’s 6-4. It’s the kind of gut wrenching loss that has been plaguing this team all year.
Things only get tougher from here. After wrapping up the series with Oakland this afternoon, the Jays play nine straight against AL East rivals.
Here are three things from week 19:
Week 19: August 5 – August 11
Record: 3 – 3
1. Welcome to 2013 Brett Lawrie!
Of all the players who have been underperforming for the Blue Jays this season (and there have been a lot of them), the biggest disappointment might be Lawrie. Pegged by many experts to have a breakout season, Lawrie was terrible early on. He returned July 13 from injury, and hit bottom on July 22 when his average dipped below .200.
But finally, Brett Lawrie has awoken. He had an 11-game hitting streak snapped on Saturday, but in his previous 13 games, his bat is on fire. He has gone 19 for 48, good for a .396 average, 1.077 OPS, 2 HR, and 4 2B. His average, since hitting .199 on July 22, is now up to .245, and his OPS has risen 117 points to .737, good enough for 8th in the AL among 3B with at least 250 PA.
It was a tough start for Lawrie in 2013, but hopefully with a big finish he can leave fans with a good taste in their mouths as we head into the long offseason. Toronto needs Brett to hit like this to position themselves for success in 2014.
2. Happ is Back
On May 7th, J.A. Happ was struck in the head by a line drive in Tampa Bay, a sickening injury that kept him out of action (strangely with a sprained knee) until last Wednesday. After his injury, the Jays have been forced to put together a rag tag rotation, giving starts to players such as Todd Redmond, Esmil Rogers, Chien-Ming Wang, Sean Nolin, and Chad Jenkins. So it was a great sight to see him back on the mound in Seattle.
Though the start didn’t go as well as hoped for (6 ER in 4 IP, with 3 BB), having Happ back will be huge down the stretch. With the continuing struggles, and recent demotion to the bullpen, of Rogers, the Jays need a starter who can provide innings behind Dickey and Buehrle. The bullpen, which has been lights out this year, is starting to come undone due to fatigue. Toronto has averged 5.5 IP/start this season, which is second worst in the American League.
Happ doesn’t have to pitch like an ace in order to improve this team . He just needs to be able to pitch.
3. Massive One-Two Punch
Is there a better 1-2 punch in all of baseball right now than Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion? The Jays teammates have been destroying pitching all season long, and show no signs of slowing down.
Last week, Bautista went 10 for 23, good for a .435 average, 1.318 OPS, with 2 HR and 2 2B. That was on the heels of Encarnacion winning the AL Player of the Week award. It seems as if one of the two is always on a hot streak, always ready and able to carry the team offensively.
Overall, the two have combined for 57 HR, which is the second highest total for a pair of teammates in all of baseball (Baltimore’s Chris Davis and Adam Jones have hit 66). They have also combined for 160 RBI, 151 Runs Scored, 46 doubles, a .364 OBP, .890 OPS, and a 7.3 WAR.
In short, they have been nothing short of outstanding, and it’s a shame that their massive seasons are being wasted on a last place team. Here’s hoping they repeat this success in 2014 with a better cast of supporting players.