What could have been…
After a tough road trip the Jays returned home to face their closest pursuers, and the team that just swept them a few days earlier, the Yankees. Without Brett Lawrie and Jose Bautista the Jays were in tough, but knuckled down and took two of three, before winning the first game in a four-game set against the White Sox. Facing a team that is struggling to prevent runs, things were looking up for a possible sweep and a 6-1 week.
Instead, the team lost the final three games against Chicago, blowing late leads both Friday and Saturday before being shut out Sunday. They only managed to score 7 runs in the final three games.
So what could have been a fantastic week that saw Toronto reassert itself at the summit of the AL East ended with a whimper.
But hey – we’re still in first!
Here are three things from week 13:
Week 13: June 23 – June 29
Record: 3 – 4
1. At Least There’s Good News
It’s hard to find a silver lining when things are turning sour, but Jays fans can take solace in the scoreboard. While Toronto was busy dropping winnable games, so were Baltimore and New York. The Orioles lost two straight at home to the last place Rays and remain 1.5 back of Toronto. Meanwhile, the Yankees lost two straight at home to the Red Sox, and failed to move closer than 2 games back.
But before we get too comfortable, the Boston Red Sox (yes, the terrible, horrible Red Sox), are suddenly only 6 games back. Yes they are still 6 games under .500, but suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, they are crawling back into contention. Even the Rays have closed the gap to 10 games. Both teams are still a long ways back, and if the Jays start winning again they can render that progress moot.
But they have to start winning again – now.
2. The Up-and-Down World of R.A. Dickey
If there ever was a start that could serve as a microcosm of R.A. Dickey’s season, it happened on Friday night. Dickey was absolutely brilliant through the first four innings: 12-up, 12-down – 6 by strikeout. The knuckleball was dancing and making Chicago hitters look foolish. And then, just like that, it was gone. A leadoff home run to Jose Abreu in the fifth. A second home run to Dayan Viciedo two batters later. Two more HRs surrounding a walk in the 7th inning gave the White Sox a 5-2 lead, and effectively ended the game.
That has been Dickey in 2014. He has had stretches where he has looked unhittable, bringing back memories of his Cy Young season. But he has alternated those stretches with stretches of poor pitching, where he loses control of his knuckleball and walks batters and gets hurt by the long ball. Very often, as was the case on Friday, those stretches happen in the very same game, just innings and batters apart.
This is shockingly obvious when you look at his splits. Below are Dickey’s ERA’s by inning this season (he has only pitched into the 8th inning twice):
He has surrendered 18 runs in 16.1 5th innings, and 10 runs in 5.1 7th innings. That is not good at all, but it is also impossible to manage. If he was consistently being shelled in the 7th inning only, Gibbons could pull him after 6 each start, but that’s not the case. Perhaps a more telling stat is how he fares when facing a lineup for the second and third time. The first time facing a batting order in a game, Dickey holds them to a .196 average and .598 OPS. Second time through those numbers increase to .250 average, .732 OPS – not great, but not bad either. But then the third time through: .306 average, .998 OPS.
Maybe batters can figure out the knuckler the third time they see it. Maybe Dickey just doesn’t have the stamina. Whatever the case, his up-and-down season needs to even out sooner rather than later and save John Gibbons some stress.
3. I Can Get a Chicken Hot Dog, Which is Cool
It doesn’t matter if the Jays win the World Series or lose every single game the rest of the season.
After seeing Colby Rasmus wearing a fully tucked long sleeve shirt, a pair of khaki’s, and a backpack, all is right with the world.