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 23.
Week 21: September 7 – 13
Record: 4 – 3
Season-to-date: 82 – 61
AL East: 1st, 3.5 ahead of New York
Wild Card: N/A
- A Massive Success
The Jays arrived in New York on Thursday for a huge four-game series against the Yankees. This was on the heels of dropping two-of-three to the Red Sox, with both losses being blowouts. In short, the Jays were still in first but were starting to struggle at a very inopportune time. But any concerns about a losing streak or a fall from grace were quickly dashed. Just nine pitches into the first game of the series the Jays had a quick 2-0 lead thanks to Josh Donaldson, and stretched it to 5-0 after the first inning. They never looked back, crushing New York on Friday night and twice more on Saturday to come away with a 3-1 series victory. There were many heroes over the weekend, each of whom played a huge part in the team’s success. Donaldson, Encarnacion, and Martin went deep on Friday. Cliff Pennington saved the first game on Saturday with his glove, then went deep in the second game. Mark Lowe pitched in both ends of the doubleheader. Marcus Stroman made his first start since last September and earned the win. Even R.A. Dickey deserves a lot of credit for nearly going the distance in a losing effort yesterday, determined to save the bullpen after a lengthy Saturday. The Jays arrived in NY with a 1.5 game lead and left 3.5 games up. That has to be considered a massive success.
- Down Goes Tulo
It wasn’t all good news in New York. Despite winning the series, the Jays lost Troy Tulowitzki for an extended period of time with a cracked shoulder blade, putting a damper on what should have been a great celebration. When Tulo was acquired, Blue Jays fans were very familiar with his checkered injury history, and we all knew that keeping him healthy might prove difficult. But what makes this injury tough to swallow was that it was a fluke play that looked so innocent. A back-pedalling Tulo collided with a charging Kevin Pillar in shallow CF, and despite the fact that neither was moving at a quick pace, the impact was enough to do some damage. There’s no question that Tulowitzki is an integral part of this team, and an extended absence might be devastating. But let’s also not forget that this is a different Jays team than in previous years, one that has enough depth and star players to withstand blows like this. If all goes well, and if AA’s optimistic prognosis of 2-3 weeks holds true, it might turn out to be a blessing, as the team will be getting a well-rested Tulo back just in time for the playoffs. Think positive.
- The Stro-Show
First we were told to not expect him back. Then we were told to not expect much from him. But when he finally made his long anticipated return to a major league mound on Saturday, Marcus Stroman blew both of those statements out of the water. Stroman looked very, very good against the Yankees, almost dominating. He threw 78 pitches in 5 innings, allowing only 4 hits and 3 runs. He even took a no-hitter into the fifth inning. And all of that came in the heat of the pennant race, in Yankee Stadium, in terrible weather. Not bad for a season debut. And the timing couldn’t be better, with both Buehrle and Hutchison struggling right now. More of the same from Stroman would be a very welcome sight.
Player of the Week
Jose Bautista, RF
He’s heating up down the stretch: 9-for-27, 5 BB, 5 R, 7 RBI, 2 2B, 2 HR, .333 / .438 / .630 / 1.067
Down on the Farm
A look at how the minor league affiliates are doing
AAA – Buffalo: missed playoffs
AA – New Hampshire: missed playoffs
A+ – Dunedin: missed playoffs
A – Lansing: Semi-Finals vs. West Michigan, series tied 1-1
A (Short Season) – Vancouver: missed playoffs
The Look Ahead
A chance to pad the lead against some weak opponents.
September 15-17 at Atlanta
September 18-20 vs. Boston