Every Monday during the 2015 season, 500 Level Fan will take a look back at the week that was, giving readers a snapshot of all things Blue Jays, including three top stories and the Blue Jay player of the week.
This is what happened in week 19.
Week 19: August 10 – 16
Record: 4 – 2
Season-to-date: 65 – 54
AL East: 2nd, 0.5 GB of New York
Wild Card: First (3.5 ahead of Baltimore for WC1, 4 ahead of LAA for WC2)
- Playoff Atmosphere
It has been a while, but playoff-like baseball is back in Toronto. The Jays came home from sweeping the Yankees in New York and kept the good times rolling against Oakland, sweeping the A’s to run their winning streak to 11 for the second time this season. The win on Thursday afternoon propelled the team into first place this late in the season for the first time since 1993. And the fans noticed. The dome was loud, rocking, and heavily into the games. Over 130,000 people crowded Rogers Centre for the three game set against the A’s, including an astounding 46,902 for a 12:30 afternoon start on Thursday. That crowd even astonished many of the Jays players, including Ben Revere:
To top that, over 140,000 fans flooded the dome for the weekend series, a first place showdown against the Yankees. While the outcome didn’t go as hoped for, the atmosphere and energy in the city is reaching 92/93 levels. It’s safe to say Jays fever is catching on.
- Round Two to the Yanks
The Jays swept the Yankees in New York from August 7-9, closing to within a whisker of first place. In the return match this past weekend it was the Yankees who got the better end of the deal, taking two of three to return to first place. The series was a classic, with pitching ruling the day. On Friday night, David Price held the Yanks scoreless through 7 innings and took a 3-0 lead into the 8th, only to see Aaron Sanchez allow a pinch-hit 3-run HR to Carlos Beltran as NY escaped with a 4-3 comeback win. On Saturday, Marco Estrada held them to 2 runs on 3 hits through 6 innings, but was outgunned by Masahiro Tanaka’s complete game gem. But the Jays showed that they are not willing to roll over and die. Faced with a quasi-must win game on Sunday, and needing to avoid a sweep at home, Bautista’s huge 2-run HR helped pace Drew Hutchison to another home win. He shut down New York, allowing only 3 hits and 1 ER in 6.2 IP. These teams still play each other seven more times in 2015. Buckle up.
- The Curious Case of Aaron Loup
Aaron Loup was victimized for a crushing ninth inning add-on run on Saturday afternoon, a run that essentially put the game out of reach. It was yet another disappointing outing for a guy that was one of the Blue Jays best relievers in each of the past three seasons. The problem, however, is that it’s hard to say what is wrong with Loup. His K/9 ratio of 9.9 is a career high, and his BB/9 ratio of 1.5 is his best since his rookie year. If he is striking out more batters and walking fewer, how can his ERA be 5.20, by far the worst of his big league career? The short answer is that he is falling victim to the Hutchison syndrome. Loup’s FIP sits at 3.89 and his BABIP is .340, meaning a large number of balls put in play are falling in for hits. He is giving up a touch more home runs this year than in years past, but the unluckiness of the balls hit against him is what is driving his regression. Unfortunately for Loup, with the Jays in a pennant race and carrying an extra reliever, those numbers, nor the fact that he throws with his left hand, may save his spot on the big league roster.
Player of the Week
Drew Hutchison, SP
The much maligned pitcher turned in a couple of gems (at home, as usual): 2-0, 13.2 IP, 7 H, 3 BB, 11 K, 3 ER, 1.98 ERA, 0.73 WHIP
Down on the Farm
A look at how the minor league affiliates are doing
AAA – Buffalo: 59 – 56, T-2nd place
AA – New Hampshire: 57 – 54, 4th place
A+ – Dunedin: First Half (complete): 32 – 38, 5th place; Second Half: 18-24, 5th place
A – Lansing: First Half (complete): 42 – 28 , 1st place; Second Half: 23-20, 3rd place
A (Short Season) – Vancouver: First Half (complete): 16-22, 4th place; Second Half: 5-6, 3rd place
The Look Ahead
A rare 5-game week, including three against Trout, Pujols, and the Angels.
August 18-19 at Philadelphia
August 21-23 at LA Angels