You can’t win ’em all.
That is what we should be telling ourselves this morning after last night’s tough, tough loss. Any loss is tough to swallow, but losing a lead with two outs in the ninth on a throwing error on a routine ground ball is tougher. Knowing that the Jays had won 9 straight before last night takes a bit of the sting out, but it still hurts.
But the streak had to end at some point. We all knew that. Now comes the important part – starting another one.
Because that is what separates a contender from a pretender. A true contender will shake off a loss and get right back on another roll. A pretender will go from a winning streak immediately into a losing streak, eliminating any momentum they may have gained in the good times. The Blue Jays cannot afford to have that happen.
Traditionally, Toronto has not been very good at shaking off a loss after a winning streak. I wrote the following last season in a very similar post:
There is precedent within Toronto’s history of how not to handle the end of a winning streak. In 1987, the club won 11 straight games from June 2 to June 13. The streak ended with an 8-5 loss to Baltimore, and the Jays then promptly lost a second straight game, and then 13 of the next 19. After the 11th consecutive win they had a three game lead in the division, but ended up falling five back post-streak. They missed the playoffs by two games.
In 1998, the Jays ran off another 11-game streak from August 27 to September 7, moving them from 12.5 games behind Boston for the AL Wild Card, to only five back. However, just like in ’87, they struggled after the streak was snapped, losing two straight and 7 of the next 11. The ’98 Jays finished 88-74, four games back of the Wild Card.
You don’t even have to go that far back for more proof. From 2010, the Jays have had four 5+ game winning streaks:
2010 – Win Streak: 6 Aftermath: lost 3 of 4
2011 – Win Streak: 6 Aftermath: lost 6 of 9
2013 – Win Streak: 11 Aftermath: lost 2 straight, 4 of 5, and 19 of 26
2014 – Win Streak: 5 Aftermath: lost 3 straight
It doesn’t take an engineering degree to figure out that those numbers are not good.
That is why tonight’s game is so important. Lose, and the Jays will have dropped two straight. Lose, and you allow the Yankees and Orioles the chance to close the gap even further. Lose, and a tiny seed of doubt will be planted in the minds of fans and players. Lose, and all the talk about how the team was playing over its head and is not a true contender will start to ramp up.
Lose and the season will get a whole lot tougher.