The Jays dropped a tough one to the Yanks last night, trimming the division lead to 2.5 games with only 11 games remaining. But for all of you who are disappointed, down, pessimistic, and even fearful of a collapse, you’ve come to the right place.
Here are ten silver linings about last night, this series, and the rest of the season:
1. It sure looked like John Gibbons was playing this series to take two of three. I have no inside scoop, and can’t see inside the head of the skipper, but looking at how he managed last night’s game you could almost sense the fact that after the Jays took Monday’s opener he was saving things up for Wednesday. Just look at what happened:
– Despite the game being extremely tight and going into extras, he kept not one or two, but arguably all of his best relievers firmly on the bullpen bench – Hawkins, Cecil, Sanchez, and Osuna. Yes they pitched on Monday, but you’d think one or two would have been available.
– In very high leverage situations, he turned to….Drew Hutchison? Aaron Loup? Steve Delabar? Ryan Tepera? Again, it was almost like he was saving his bullets for tonight.
– Kawasaki started. Enough said.
2. Despite that, the Jays almost won.
3. While Gibbons was carefully preserving his bullpen, Joe Girardi emptied his, using his top three relievers in Justin Wilson, Dellin Betances, and Andrew Miller. Wilson and Betances might be available tonight, but Miller pitched two full innings, meaning he is almost certainly out tonight.
4. Aside from Wilson, neither of the other two were very effective. Betances and Miller combined to allow a single, a double, two home runs, and four walks. They are vulnerable after all.
5. The Jays go with Marcus Stroman in the finale tonight, making his third start after two outstanding appearances.
6. The Yankees give the ball to Ivan Nova, replacing the injured Masahiro Tanaka. Nova is 6-8 with a 5.11 ERA this season, and recently lost his rotation spot. For his career he is 5-4 with a 5.54 ERA against Toronto, including a sparkling 1-2 record, 8.36 ERA, in three starts against them in 2015.
7. The Blue Jays have an off day on Thursday, which is huge in order to give the bullpen a rest, and to allow a scuffling Josh Donaldson to clear his head a bit.
8. The Yankees, on the other hand, had their final off day last Thursday, and end the season with 17 games in 17 days. For an older team with a patchwork rotation that is a tough finish.
9. Toronto ends the season with six games against the Rays and four against the Orioles, teams that have given them a few problems this year. But Baltimore is 22-26 since August 1, and Tampa Bay is 22-25. Meanwhile New York finishes with four against the White Sox, four against the Red Sox, and three against Baltimore. Boston, at 26-20, has been one of the best teams in baseball since August 1, and are seemingly scoring at will. Advantage Jays.
10. Relax. We’re still in first!