If there’s one word to describe the beginning of the second half for the Jays it would be promising. Sure they were shut down by Yu Darvish on Friday night, but they responded with two straight wins, scoring 13 runs in the process.
Of course, there is always a caveat. In this case there are two. The first is that the Rangers are one of the worst teams in baseball and have been decimated by injuries. The second is that the Jays actually lost ground to New York, Tampa Bay, and Boston, and are now almost closer to last than they are to first.
But hey – a series win is a series win. Now it’s time to go out and sweep Farrell and the Red Sox.
Here are three things from week 16:
Week 16: July 14 – July 20
Record: 2 – 1
1. Colby vs. Colby
Colby Lewis used to be a good pitcher for the Texas Rangers. From 2010 – 2012 he pitched over 500 innings with a sub 4.00 ERA, and made it to two World Series. But he missed all of 2013 and has been absolutely terrible thus far in 2014: 6.37 ERA and a 1.84 WHIP in 89 IP. So maybe he was just frustrated on Saturday, because I can’t truly believe that he would be that stupid.
With the Jays up by two in the fifth, Colby Rasmus came to the plate with two out and the bases empty. The Rangers were playing an extreme pull shift against Rasmus, so he decided to simply bunt to the wide open left side of the infield and trot to first. If your opponents are going to give you a hit, why not take it?
Except that’s not how Lewis saw it (via mlb.com and Big League Stew):
“I told [Rasmus] I didnt’ appreciate it. You’re up by two runs with two outs and you lay down a bunt. I don’t think that’s the way the game should be played. I felt like you have a situation where there is two outs, you’re up two runs, you have gotten a hit earlier in the game off me, we are playing the shift, and he laid down a bunt basically simply for average. He didn’t steal within the first two pitches to put himself in scoring position. That tells me he is solely looking out for himself, and looking out for batting average. And I didn’t appreciate it.”
First of all – what? As many other writers have pointed out, there are so many things wrong with that statement. For one, the “unwritten rules of baseball” shouldn’t apply here. I can see if Toronto was up 10-0 in the 8th inning that Rasmus would be better off not bunting. But with a 2-0 lead in the 5th, when your team has been struggling for weeks to score runs? No, not at all. In fact, what Rasmus did was just the opposite of what Lewis thought – it was good, smart baseball.
For what it’s worth, Ramsus refused to be drawn into a war of words, simply saying he was trying to help his team win.
As for Lewis? He’s an idiot.
2. Mune Up…
It’s no secret that the Blue Jays are struggling mightily to score runs right now. Injuries to Lawrie, Lind, and Encarnacion have placed three of the team’s top-5 hitters on the shelf, and have forced the rest of the roster to step up. What is not surprising is that the lineup has not been able to do so on a consistent basis.
However, what is surprising is that one man HAS been able to step up. No, it’s not Bautista, or Reyes, or Rasmus. It’s not Navarro or Kratz or Cabrera. That man is none other than Munenori Kawasaki. Since being recalled on June 17 to replace Lawrie, the normally light-hitting Kawasaki has been hitting the ball a ton. Sure he still doesn’t have a lot of power, but a .300 average and .351 OBP have rewarded him with a bump up to the #2 spot in the batting order.
What’s more is that Mune has been getting even better. Going into tonight’s action he is riding a 8 game hit streak in which he has hit .382 with a .824 OPS. Those are numbers one would expect from Melky not Mune. If only the rest of the team would follow suit.
3. …Bau Down
Things have been almost the exact opposite for Jose Bautista. Toronto’s slugger and leader has fallen on hard times since Edwin’s injury. Whether he’s trying too hard to carry the offence, or whether opposing pitcher’s have decided to not give him anything to hit (or likely a combo of both) Bautista is really struggling.
Since Encarnacion went down, Jose is 9 for 45 with only 2 extra base hits (both doubles), 3 RBI, and 12 strikeouts. He is slugging a mere .244 and sports a .514 OPS. He hasn’t hit a home run since July 2nd, and his season OPS has plummeted from .964 to .903.
It’s hard enough for the Jays to win games without EE in the lineup. It’s downright impossible when Bautista is struggling too.