It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
Charles Dickens wrote that about the French Revolution, but I’m going to steal it and apply to the Blue Jays performance last week.
First came glory – a sweep of the Red Sox in Fenway! A win in the series opener in Houston! Six straight wins! Only a game and a half back of first!
Then came the gut punch. Three straight losses to the woeful Astros. Three straight games where the team looked lethargic, disinterested, and sluggish. A disappointing end to a highly promising week.
But hey – we still hold a playoff spot, and a first place showdown with Baltimore awaits!
Here are three things from week 18:
Week 18: July 28 – August 3
Record: 4 – 3
1. The Dreaded Trap Series
If the Toronto Blue Jays are serious contenders, they should not be losing series to the Houston Astros at this time of year, especially not when they can sniff first place. That performance in Minute Maid Park was futile and pathetic.
But let’s be honest – the schedule makers did not do Toronto any favours with this series. The Jays played 10 straight games against bitter division rivals Boston and New York, and then follow that up with 9 straight games against division leader Baltimore, AL Central leaders Detroit, and one of their closest pursuers in the Wild Card race Seattle. Sandwiched in between that slate of 19 highly intense, incredibly meaningful, super dramatic, and playoff worthy games? A four-game set against the Astros.
Yes the Jays need to keep the pedal to the metal and maintain focus. No they shouldn’t have been caught looking ahead at the first place showdown with the O’s, and some potential playoff preview games with Detroit and Seattle. You have to take care of the business in front of you first. But this Houston series had all the makings of a trap series. Even Pat Tabler said so during the Boston series in Fenway.
So while losing is never justifiable, I think every Jays fan out there at least mildly expected something like this to happen. Let’s just hope the team can put it behind them quickly. The Orioles await.
2. All Quiet on the Deadline Front
As expected by most, but as a disappointment to many, last Thursday’s trade deadline came and went without a single move by Alex Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays. Fans and players alike watched in amazement as the Tigers (David Price), the A’s (Jon Lester), the Yankees (Stephen Drew, Martin Prado), the Orioles (Andrew Miller), and the Mariners (Austin Jackson) all made moves to strengthen themselves ahead of the stretch run.
The result of AA’s silence was a backlash of fury and venom from fans, writers, and even some players through the media, including Jose Bautista and Casey Janssen.
Bautista – “Of course it’s a little disappointing that we somehow weren’t able to get anything done, but everybody around us that’s in contention somehow figured it out.”
Janssen – “For us not to do anything, most of us had some ideas that we were going to improve this club a little bit. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t.”
No team ever likes to see their star players lash out, and truth be told I believe those comments were made in the spur of the moment of a frenzied Thursday. Letting a few days pass, and armed with the realization that Toronto will be “acquiriing” Adam Lind, Brett Lawrie, and Edwin Encarnacion in the upcoming weeks, the Jays still look pretty good.
3. Suck It Farrell!
Winning is great. It always is. But beating the Boston Red Sox is always better – especially beating the Boston Red Sox in Boston. The Blue Jays absolutely destroyed the Red Sox last week, sweeping them in three straight games by a combined score of 24 – 4, including a complete beatdown on Monday night (14 – 1).
Not only did the sweep help propel the Blue Jays up the standings, it also – for all intents and purposes – ended the Red Sox season. Boston was hanging around the fringes of the AL East race for several weeks, but the three-game sweep dropped them deep into the basement, and triggered a huge selloff that saw them deal Jon Lester, John Lackey, Andrew Miller, and Stephen Drew.
It’s not much, but seeing the Jays bury Boston gives us fans a little bit of revenge on Farrell.