It’s hard to find the right words to describe last week’s Blue Jays performance.
Terrible? Awful? Horrendous? Upsetting? All are fair.
But I’m going to choose deflating, because I think that best sums it up from a fan perspective. There is nothing more deflating to the spirit and morale of a baseball fan than losing a game in the late innings, especially when your team has the lead.
Imagine it happening four times in six days.
I swear that as soon as the 7th inning hit, if you closed your eyes and listened carefully you could hear the s0und of a balloon losing air slowly, then faster and faster until drops, withered, to the ground.
It was enough to bring grown men to tears.
Here are three things from week 5:
Week 5: April 28 – May 4
Record: 2 – 4
1. The Absolute Worst
The Bue Jays finished last week with a 2-4 record, winning the final game against Kansas City and Pittsburgh to avoid a pair of three game sweeps. It was a very frustrating week, and the most frustrating fact was this: they very easily could have won all 6 games.
On Tuesday the Jays led 5 – 2 in the 7th. They lost 10 – 7.
On Wednesday they were tied 2 – 2 in the 7th. They lost 4 – 2.
On Friday they led 5 – 3 in the 9th. They lost 6 – 5.
On Saturday they led 6 – 2 in the 7th. They lost 8 – 6.
All in, the bullpen pitched a total of 13 innings last week, surrendering 16 runs, 23 hits, and 5 walks for an 11.08 ERA and 2.15 WHIP. Sergio Santos was particularly bad, and his abysmal outings cost him the closer role.
There’s no secret that Toronto needs Casey Janssen back badly. The question is can they survive until he returns?
2. He’s Here
He, of course, is Marcus Stroman, the pitcher that Blue Jays fans have been giddy over for months. Unfortunately, his arrival is not quite the fairy tale that we were all hoping for and expecting.
Jays fans pictured a magical season in which the team stayed in contention all year, only to see Stroman emerge from the minors and lead the team into the playoffs, similar to what Michael Wacha did with St. Louis last year. Sadly, he joins a team in disarray, and without a clearly defined role.
At first, it looked like Stroman would be brought up to replace Dustin McGowan in the rotation, but then Dustin was excellent in back-to-back starts, solidying his spot in the starting five. Next, after bullpen collapse after bullpen collapse, and with Santos deposed as closer, it appeared that Stroman would be brought up to strengthen the relief corps. While that is the word for now, suddenly, with Brandon Morrow lost for potentially the rest of the season (yet again), and with the underwhelming J.A. Happ taking his spot, a starting job might once again be in the mix.
Whatever his eventual role, Stroman made his debut yesterday afternoon, pitching 0.2 IP and allowing a run – not spectacular, but good enough to bridge the gap to Cecil and help the Jays earn a win. Now that he’s here, it will be interesting to see if he makes a case to stay for the rest of the season.
3. Down But Not Out
To say last week was rough would be an understatement. With the blown leads, injury news, and fan revolt on social media, it feels as if the season is over, as if the Jays are dead and buried in the division.
But one look at the standing will tell you otherwise. Even after one of the most disappointing weeks in recent memory, Toronto is still very much alive. The team sits just 2.5 games back of first place New York in the AL East, and a mere 2 games back of the AL Wild Card leaders. Contrast that to last year when the team truly was a write-off and you can’t help but smile.
Just over one month into the season, the American League is as tightly bunched as I can ever remember. Many good teams (the Red Sox, Rays, Royals, and Indians) are below .500, and aside from the Tigers and A’s, nobody is really making a move. If this parity lasts for the rest of the season, no team will truly ever be out of it.
All the more reason for the Jays to figure things out, and figure things out quickly.